The past decade of boys basketball action in the Tri-County Area was certainly one to remember, as the 2010s provided more than its share of memorable postseason runs by area teams from start to finish.
None were bigger than Johnsonburg’s magical journey to the 2013 Class A state finals, a run that featured a win for the ages when the Rams beat state power Lincoln Park, a charter school from Pittsburgh, in the West Finals to reach the PIAA championship game for the first time in school.
Johnsonburg’s run came just a year after Ridgway nearly achieved the same feat but fell victim to Lincoln Park in the same state semifinal round that the Rams managed to beat the Leopards in.
No other squad was able to match what Ridgway did in 2012, or ultimately Johnsonburg in 2013, but that doesn’t mean the area teams lacked success in the state playoffs.
Multiple teams qualified for states every year from 2010-2019, with a large number winning at least one game and some two to reach the quarterfinals.
Given all that success, it should come as no surprise there was no shortage of individual star power in the decade — both for teams that reached the state playoffs and those that didn’t.
There was an abundance of 1,000-point scorers, including more than 10 who scored over 1,200.
All that talent certainly made it tough to chose a team of the decade for the 2010s, But, we here in the sports department took a crack and it and since a team goes to battle as a squad — we selected a 10-man roster featuring the best guards and big man from the decade.
The squad is headlined by the Co-Players of the Decade — Johnsonburg’s Cole Peterson and Cameron Grumley.
No two players were joined more at the hip together during their careers than Peterson and Grumley, who graduated together in 2014. The pair, along with their teammates, helped put Johnsonburg back on the map in multiple sports.
The Rams went 89-26 during their four-year varsity careers, including 76-14 over the final tree seasons as they reached the state playoffs in each of those seasons.
They combined to score 3,111 points while helping capture the school’s first District 9 title in 30 years as part of the run to the state finals in 2013. Both scored 22 points in the 59-53 state semifinal win against Lincoln Park, which is considered by many as one of the biggest upset wins in state playoff history.
While the Rams’ fell to Vaux in the state finals that year, they still finished with a school record 30 wins.
Peterson finished his career with 1,598 career points, while Grumley was right behind him with 1,513 points. They still rank second and third, respectively, on the school’s all-time scoring list.
The pair, who combined to garnered multiple All-State honors, were named Tri-County Sunday/Courier Express Co-Players of the Year in 2013 and 2014.
Peterson was a First Team All-State selection in 2013 and a Second Teamer in 2014, while Grumley was a Second Team pick in 2013 and a Third Teamer in 2014.
Here is a look at the other members of the All-Decade Team for the 2010s:
R.J Laugand, Clarion-Limestone: Laugand, a 2015 C-L grad, became the top guard in the area after the graduation of Peterson and Grumley. And like those two, he had the rare mix of being a pure scorer and passer at the same time.
Laugand, a four-year starter, took over more of a leadership role as a junior and lead C-L to the Class A state playoffs as the fourth-place team out of District 9. A year later, he was the driving force behind the Lions capturing their first D-9 title in 30 years and posting a school-record 25 wins.
The Lions weren’t satisfied with just a D-9 crown though, as they two state playoff games against Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (60-45) and Vincentian Academy (97-90) — a game in which Laugand had 20 points and 21 assists. His career then came to end in a 90-73 loss to Farrell in the state quarterfinals.
Laugand averaged 17.6 points and 8.4 assists (243 total) per game as a senior on his way to capturing TCS/CE Player of the Year honors — the first and only Lion to ever do so.
Laugand, who finished his career with a school record 1,832 points, was a Third Team All-State selection his senior year.
Eric Matheson, Ridgway: Matheson, a playmaker for the Elkers for four years, was the premier guard in the area in the early part of the decade, graduating in 2012. He had some thrilling matchups that season with Peterson and Grumley when they were sophomores at Johnsonburg. The teams played five times that season, with the Elkers winning four — including a 40-37 victory in the D-9 Class A title game.
The district title was the Elkers’ first in 20 years, but they were far from done that season as Matheson helped lead them to state semifinals for the first time in school history. The Elkers captured three wins in the state playoffs that year against Sewickley Academy (48-40), Kennedy Catholic (73-50) and Visionquest (58-51) before falling to Lincoln Park (64-46) with a berth to state finals on the line. Ridgway finished 29-2 that season.
Matheson, the TCS/CE Player of the Year in 2012 and three-time First Team pick, still holds the school record for career points with 1,559. He was a Second Team All-State selection in 2012.
Jeremy Breier, Ridgway: Breier, a 2016 grad, was one of the more versatile big men the area saw in the 2010s.
He did a little bit of everything for the Elkers during his career but mostly was a premier scorer and still sits second on the school’s all-time scoring list behind Matheson with 1,505 points.
The Elker was a three-time First Team TCS/CE All-Star selection and helped lead Ridgway to the state playoffs as a senior. He scored 509 points (18.2 ppg) that year as Ridgway went 23-5, with three of those losses coming in the regular season to eventual Class A champ Elk County Catholic.
Ridgway reached states as the third-place team in Class A, where Breier saw his career come to an end with a heartbreaking 60-48, 4-overtime loss to D-6 champ Homer-Center in the opening round. Breier had a career-high 33 points in that loss.
Nate DaCanal, Elk County Catholic: DaCanal, a 2017 grad, was a standout at the point guard position for ECC and helped lead the Crusaders to an 82-5 record during his three varsity seasons.
That mark was even better his final two years, as Elk County posted back-to-back 28-1 campaigns while winning D-9 Class A titles in 2016 and 2017. DaCanal was the driving force behind those impressive seasons and earned back-to-back TCS/CE Player of the Year awards as a result. He is one seven players to win the honor twice in his career, with no player having ever won it three times.
Elk County went 1-1 in the state playoffs his junior year, then won two games in the 2017 before DaCanal saw his career come to an end with a 61-40 quarterfinal loss to eventual state champ Kennedy Catholic.
Although he played just three varsity season, DaCanal ended his career sixth in school history with 1,207 points. He was a Second Team All-State pick in 2017.
Chris Marshall, DuBois Central Catholic: Marshall, who stood 6-3, was a force in the post for the Cardinals at the start of the decade. He put together back-to-back dominant seasons in 2010 and 2011, leading DCC to the state playoffs both years, en route to becoming just the fourth player at the time to win two TCS/CE Player of the Year Awards.
Marshall powered DCC to its first District 9 title in 34 years in 2010 — something not even the 2007 state final team did (Cardinals were D-9 No. 4 in ’07). The Cardinals lost its state opener to Neshannock, 63-50, in 2010. He averaged 18.9 points and 10.4 rebounds a game that season.
Marshall led DCC back to the state playoffs as a senior in 2011 as the third-place team in District 9, with Marshall averaging 16.5 points per game and had 11.8 rebounds per contest and shooting 67 percent from the floor.
The Cardinals went 1-1 in the state playoffs that year, as Marshall ended his DCC career with an impressive 33-point effort in a tough 50-47 loss to Clairton in the second round. Marshall surpassed Pat Felix (1976, 1,398) as the school’s all-time leading scorer in the contest and finished with 1,412. He held that mark for eight years himself.
Zane Hackett, Brookville: Like Marshall, Hackett was another dominant force in the paint in the early part of the decade an routinely dunked in games. A 2012 graduate, Hackett helped led Brookville to 22-3 record and a D-9 Class 2A title as a junior and a runner-up finish as a senior when the Raiders went 18-7.
A two-time TCS/CE First Team selection, Hacket averaged 13.0 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.9 blocks a game as a junior. However, he jumped that scoring average by seven points as a senior as he once again averaged a double-double with 20.8 points and 13.2 rebounds a game to go along with 3.4 blocks. He shot 64.2 percent from the floor as a senior.
Hacket finished his Raiders career with 1,016 points.
Dan Callen, Clarion-Limestone: Callen, a 2017 C-L grad, was a presence in the post throughout his Lions career.
He was a sophomore on the 2015 District 9 Class A title squad that was led by Laugand, and after the guard’s graduation, become more of a leader on a pair of Lion squads that put together strong regular seasons but couldn’t quite make it back to state playoffs. The Lions missed states by one win his senior year.
Callen, who was a TCS/CE Second Team pick in 2015, was a First Teamer his final two seasons as the Lions went 21-3 and 18-8 in 2016 and 2017, respectively. He enjoyed a monster senior year, averaging 18.9 points and 12.0 rebounds a game to go along with 72 blocks, 57 steals and 62 assists. His 472 points that season were second most in all of District 9.
The big man finished his Lions career with 1,524 points, which rank second in school history behind Laugand. He was a Seocnd Team All-State pick in 2017.
Justin Miknis, DuBois Central Catholic: Miknis, a 2019 graduate, may have been the best player in the area this past decade who saw limited postseason action. He played in just three playoff games during his four-year career, and two of those came his freshman season when the Cardinals went 16-9.
The Cardinals never finished above .500 his final three seasons but did come in right at that mark (12-12) his senior year — a season that ended with a 66-49 loss to North Clarion in its playoff opener.
Although the losses piled up during his career, Miknis never took a night off and played hard every time he stepped on the court. As a result, he became the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,478 points — surpassing Marshall on that list during a game at Curwensville in February of 2019.
A TCS/CE First Team pick as a junior, he stepped up his game as a senior and earned TCS/CE Player of the Year honors. He led all area players in scoring average (21.3 points per game) and had the second-most total points (490) in just 23 games played. He also led the Cardinals with 181 rebounds (7.9 rpg), 87 assists (3.8 apg) and 67 steals (3.0 spg).