BROOKVILLE — The No. 5 Elk County Catholic girls basketball team never led on Wednesday evening, but gave top-seeded North Clarion all it could handle in a 43-31 loss in the District 9 Class A semifinals at Brookville High School.
North Clarion’s Tori Obenrader, a 2,000-point scorer for her career, was once again the force she has been the entire year as she ended the night with 19 points and 21 rebounds.
“She’s an outstanding basketball player and I think if you don’t concentrate on her, you’re making a big mistake,” said ECC coach Ken Pistner.
“I think they knew they were in a game tonight. I thought we had a good gameplan. We did control their offense. We knew if it was going to be a 50-point game, we weren’t going to win the basketball game. We were hoping to hold them into the 30s.”
North Clarion posted the first six points of the game on their way to an 11-6 lead after one quarter.
The Lady Crusaders had just eight points at the half, with six of them coming from Taylor Newton as they trailed 18-8.
“We weren’t real concerned at the half because we just weren’t making any shots,” said Pistner. “We make three or four shots in the first half, and it’s a two-point game. The second half, we started making some shots and we were right in the game.”
Once the second half started, ECC got themselves back into it and got it down to a four-point game by the end of the third quarter at 29-25.
Josie Smith’s layup to start the fourth quarter made it a two-point game, and North Clarion then ran about two and a half minutes of clock before Obenrader was fouled.
Newton then had a layin to make it a one-point game at 30-29, but that was as close as it got for the Lady Crusaders.
The She-Wolves went 10-for-13 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, with many of those coming in the final minutes to close it out.
“We had a one-point game with four minutes to go and that’s exactly what we were looking for,” said Pistner. “We didn’t get a couple rebounds on their foul shots. It could’ve ended differently.”
Smith had 10 points to lead ECC, while Newton had eight points.
Elk County Catholic, which is now 16-10 on the season, will play No. 2 Otto-Eldred in the consolation game of the Class A tournament this weekend. Otto-Eldred fell to A-C Valley, 56-52, on Wednesday.
“We want to be the third place team out of the district,” said Pistner. “We’ll regroup here and get back to practice and plan for whoever we have to play.”
North Clarion moved to 25-0 heading into this weekend’s district championship game.