PUNXSUTAWNEY — Clarion hung around for two quarters Wednesday night against returning state runner-up Bishop Guilfoyle, but the Marauders’ depth and outside shooting eventually proved too much as BG came away with a 66-47 victory to reach the Class 2A state quarterfinals.
Guilfoyle, which hit six of its 10 3-pointers in the first half, took a 32-21 lead into the break before totally taking control in the third quarter. The Marauders (26-3) opened the third on a 16-7 run to push their lead to 20 (48-28) before Clarion cut it to 16 at 50-34 after three quarters.
Clarion got as close as 13 in the fourth (43-30) on back-to-back treys by junior Cal German and senior Josh Craig, but a quick 7-2 spurt promptly had the BG lead back to 18 points at 60-42 with 3:03 to play. Guilfoyle went on to win by 19.
Three different Marauders reached double figures, led by Will Helton who knocked down five treys on his way to scoring 19 points. Jessiah Witherspoon added 17 points, while Kyle Ruggery had 11.
German led Clarion with 14 points, despite getting into early foul trouble with two in the first quarter. That didn’t help the Bobcats cause in the early going despite keeping within striking distance.
Craig added nine points on three 3-pointers in his final game, while fellow senior Skylar Rhoades added eight points. Junior Beau Verdill had nine off the bench.
“They are a good team and had more depth than we did,” said first-year Clarion coach Scott Fox. “They shot the ball well and have an inside out game too. And, we just turned it (ball) over too many times, especially early on.
“I don’t think they are 19 points better than us, but it’s just nature of the beast. You do a couple things wrong and a team like that is going to get you for it. That’s what happens when you get later in states.”
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Guilfoyle came out on fire as Helton hit back-to-back 3-pointers to open the game and had three in the opening four minutes. Clarion countered that initial surge with a Josh Craig 3-pointer and hoop by Skylar Rhoades to make it 6-5.
German later hit a triple to make it 11-8 before having to sit after he was saddled with his second foul. A trey by BG’s Patrick Haigh then sparked a 9-4 spurt to end the quarter to put the Marauders up 20-12.
Witherspoon opened the second with a trey to give BG its first double-digit lead of the night at 23-12.
Clarion battled back within six (25-19) on Craig’s second 3-pointer of the game with 4:15 left in the half, but BG put together another min-run — this one 7-2 to end the half to go into the break up 11 points (32-21).
Guilfoyle extended that run to 12-2 to start the second half before Rhoades and German scored back-to-back hoops for Clarion to make it 37-25. Guilfoyle then pushed that lead to 20 at 48-28 with an 11-3 run that featured treys by Michael Montecalvo and Kyle Ruggery.
Clarion (17-10) closed the third on a 6-2 spurt, getting four points from German, who had six of his 14 in the third quarter.
German will enter his senior season with 1,144 career points.
The teams then traded scores for most of the fourth, with Verdill netting five of his nine points in the final eight minutes for the Bobcats.
The Bobcats were making just their fourth appearance in the second round of states in school history. Clarion reached the state semifinals in 1966 and went as far as the second round in 1986 and 2003.
“It was a great season,” said Fox. “I’m very proud of my kids in my first year being here. They worked hard. They had a tough start at the beginning, but we made it to the second round and we (Clarion) don’t make it there that often.
“If you win a game at states, it’s an accomplishment when you’re a small school like us.”
Guilfoyle advances to play WPIAL runner-up Sto-Rox, which beat D-10 champ Lakeview 75-51 Wednesday night.