CLARION — The Elk County Catholic boys basketball team had little trouble in their PIAA Class A first round matchup against District 10 runner-up Jamestown, cruising their way to a 66-40 win over the Muskies on Friday evening at Clarion University.
The Crusaders surely shook off the loss to Johnsonburg last Saturday after falling 36-30 and more than doubling their offensive output on Friday.
“Obviously we scored a few more points than we did on Saturday,” said ECC coach Aaron Straub. “I think we were better prepared to go against the zone. We made a few more shots. We can say whatever we want, but that’s the name of the game, make some shots.”
Like he’s been doing for most of the season, Ryan Newton was a big factor for the Crusaders, getting a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds as he celebrated his birthday on Friday.
“I told the guys after the game, ‘Every night you can play is a good night. Every night you can win is a good night. Every night you can win on your birthday is even better,’” said Straub.
But one of the biggest performances came from ECC junior Alex Breindel, who finished the night with 23 points to lead the team, including 15 in the second half on three three-pointers.
“For us to be successful, we need that second guy,” Straub said. “Alex is just a great spot-up shooter. He put in all kinds of time on his game. If we’re going to be successful, he needs to pick up in scoring. He looked confident tonight.”
Jamestown finished at 12-13, which was a little misleading to Straub.
“I told the kids don’t look at their record,” said Straub. “Three of their losses are to Kennedy Catholic. I felt they had about eight losses that most teams would lose to, as well. I thought they could just as easily be 20-4 playing a different schedule. I think we beat a good team.”
The Crusaders started out with an 11-3 first quarter, with Jamestown not getting on the board until the 2:30 mark. Getting out to an 11-0 run, Newton scored nine of those points while Breindel made two foul shots.
Elk Catholic started to gradually increase the lead by the end of the half as they went to the locker room up 27-16.
The Crusaders raised their lead to 16 by the first couple minutes of the second half, thanks to a 7-1 run in one minute led by Breindel.
Elk Catholic cruised the rest of the way to the finish line as backups finished out the fourth quarter.
For Jamestown, Dawon Urbansky scored 11 points to lead the way.
Elk County Catholic will now play District 6 champion Bishop Carroll on Tuesday in the second round. Bishop Carroll defeated Imani Christian, 85-76, on Friday.