CLARION — A layoff of 15 days certainly wasn’t ideal for the Brookville girls basketball team coming into Friday’s District 9 Class 3A championship game against Karns City.
But after holding off the Lady Gremlins for a 46-39 victory, Lady Raider head coach Mark Powell could do a little more celebrating than any ordinary district title.
With the win, Powell grabbed his 200th win in his career at Brookville, which has spanned 16 years.
“We really didn’t talk about the 200th win,” said Powell. “Really that’s just a testament to all the kids I’ve had for 16 years. All their hard work –if it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be here right now. It’s a testament to them, and all my assistant coaches.”
What was even more impressive for the Lady Raiders this time around was the make-up of the roster, compiled of all juniors and sophomores.
So everyone on the court and on the bench at Tippin Gymnasium at Clarion University for the special moment on Friday will be back to defend their title next season, which was their first since the 2012-13 season.
“We knew success was coming but we didn’t know it was going to come this quick,” said Powell. “We’ve been working with these kids for a long time. They got a ton of experience last year as freshmen and sophomores and that certainly was big moving into this year. I think a lot of that experience carried over. We couldn’t be prouder of the kids.”
The Lady Raiders also made a remarkable turnaround from last season, when they went 6-16. Brookville now stands at 18-5 heading into the PIAA Tournament next week.
In the first half of Friday’s game, it had looked like the Lady Raiders were going to coast to the district title and the milestone win for Powell. However, any thoughts of celebrating early were put on hold in the fourth quarter as the Lady Gremlins and Emily Hegedus made a comeback of 16 points and cut it down to five with less than two minutes left.
But when Brookville’s Marcy Schindler put the game away with a pair of free throws in the final minute, the party began and the preparation for a hopeful 201st win on Friday began.
“We’ve worked really hard for a long time,” said Powell. “I think we’ve done things the right way. We’ve taught the kids to play hard and be respectful. I’m proud of the accomplishment, but it’s about the kids.”