CLARION— After coming up short in the District 9 Class AA championship game against Coudersport last weekend, the Brockway boys basketball team will be back in action and hungrier than ever Saturday night, as the Rovers open up the PIAA Class AA Tournament at Clarion University’s Waldo S. Tippin Gymnasium.
This marks the second time in as many years that the Rovers will compete in the state playoffs, and after suffering an early exit in the first round last year to the juggernaut that was Lincoln Park, Brockway looks to redeem themselves with a convincing win this weekend.
With no powerhouses like Lincoln Park to contend with in this year’s first round, the Rovers’ chances of advancing are more optimistic, but they’ll still have to contend with a highly competitive and highly experienced team in Bishop Canevin to see their dreams come to fruition.
Bishop Canevin enters the PIAA tournament with an abundance of experience, having reached the WPIAL Class AA semifinals and PIAA second round last year, as well as coming off two consecutive years as AA Section 3 champions.
As one of the hottest teams entering the WPIAL playoffs this year, the Crusaders won 11 out of their last 12 regular season games to earn an 18-4 overall record and the No. 2 seed in Class AA, and their 85-54 quarterfinal victory over Summit Academy only exemplified the talent and momentum they were carrying.
The Crusaders were very well on their way to a WPIAL AA title when they held a 30-28 lead over Sewickley Academy in the semifinals, but the eventual AA champion Panthers staged a comeback to win the match, 67-51, and knock the Crusaders out of the district playoffs.
Still, despite the loss, Bishop Canevin still looks to be a favorite in the state tournament, and with an offense that bolsters a 1,000-point scorer and their 52-points against average defense, the Crusaders are not a team to underestimate.
Senior Mitchell King led Bishop Canevin’s offense this past season with an average of 19.9 points-per-game while also managing to pass the 1,000-point mark for his career in the same timeframe.
Sophomore Eugene Goodwine has also proven to be a consistent offensive threat by averaging 13 points, while senior Walter Bonds showed his scoring skills off in Bishop Canevin’s semifinal loss to Sewickley with a 21-point outing.
Bonds’ twin brother Julian as well as senior Kellan Gustine have also played pivotal roles in scoring and have helped fuel the Crusaders’ 70 points-per-game average offense all season long.
While their competition certainly is stiff, the Brockway roster are no slouches either and have proven time-and-time again that they are championship material.
Jarrett Esposito’s 10.4 points-per-game and 7.6 rebounds-per-game averages have helped the Rovers to the spot they are in now, and if his 20-point night against Coudersport is any indication, the Rover senior certainly has more left in the tank.
Jake Wineberg is a force to be reckoned with on the perimeter and is just below Esposito’s average in scoring at 10.2, while Carter Adams (9.9), Zane Puhala (6.0), Hunter Miller (5.6), and Quade Lundberg (4.8) are also valuable assets on the scoring front for the Rovers.
If victorious this weekend, Brockway would advance to the second round of the PIAA tournament and go on to face either District 10 champion Wilmington or WPIAL Section 2 winner Chartiers-Houston.
Tip-off from Clarion University is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start this Saturday night.