BROOKVILLE — The Johnsonburg boys basketball team pulled off probably the biggest shocker so far in the postseason in District 9 on Wednesday evening.
The fourth-seeded Rams held off No. 1 North Clarion in the end to advance to the District 9 Class A championship game with a 45-42 win over the Wolves in the D-9 semis at Brookville High School.
“What a hard-fought battle,” said Johnsonburg coach Bill Shuey. “(North Clarion is) a great team. It could’ve went either way.
“It was a good game and we’re lucky to be able to get to the championship. It means a lot to these kids to get there.”
Johnsonburg will now face one of their Elk County rivals in No. 2 Elk County Catholic this weekend in the Class A championship. The Crusaders defeated No. 3 Cameron County, 46-25, on Wednesday evening.
With the Rams up 41-40 with a little over two minutes left, North Clarion lobbed an inbound pass to 6-7 forward Kyle Mills under the basket. Mills got the layin to give the Wolves a 42-41 lead.
Johnsonburg’s Austin Green hit a pair of free throws at the other end to re-gain the lead.
With 15 seconds left, Mills missed a layin that would’ve gave his team the lead back. The Rams got the rebound, and Ben Freeburg sunk a pair of foul shots to take a 45-42 lead with 12.9 seconds left.
Mills, who would be a mismatch for most teams in the district, ended the night with eight points and five rebounds off the bench.
“He’s a hard one to defend, that’s for sure,” said Shuey. “They kept saying, ‘He’s too big.’”
A couple of North Clarion three-pointers did not go in in the final seconds before the buzzer went off to take home the upset victory.
The two teams went back-and-forth through much of the first half. The Rams led 16-13 after the first quarter, but the Wolves tied it up right away in the second quarter on a Korey Mills trey.
The Rams’ Trevor Lobaugh then hit a three to give the Rams the lead back, but the lead was never by more than one possession throughout the quarter as Johnsonburg took a 23-22 lead to halftime.
Johnsonburg never grew the lead to more than five points in the third quarter as well, and North Clarion never saw the lead again until Mills’ bucket with two minutes left.
Johnsonburg (18-7) was led by Freeburg with 11 points, while Green and Lobaugh each had nine points.
For North Clarion, Nathan Banner had 18 points on the night. He also got his 1,000th point of his career early in the first quarter.
The championship against ECC is at a date, time and location to be announced.