CLARION — After nearly pulling off the upset of the district playoffs earlier this week in the District 9 Class 2A semifinals, the Brockway boys basketball team will still be extending their season beyond this weekend.
The Rovers qualified for the PIAA Tournament with a 60-53 win over Clarion on Friday evening in the nightcap of a tripleheader at Clarion University.
“Our goal all year was to get back to the district championship and we came up a little short against Coudersport on Tuesday night,” said Brockway coach Rick Clark. “We said, ‘Hey, we still have a chance to move on.’ Seniors can extend their careers, and that’s what we’re playing for. It’s a great accomplishment to get to the state tournament. That’s what we wanted to do.”
On a night when Brockway (13-13) leading scorer Carter Adams had somewhat of an off night and got into foul trouble, the Rovers got a big-time performance from another guard in Zane Puhala.
Puhala put together a 20-point, nine-rebound performance on the night, including going 8-for-10 from the foul line.
“Zane is one of those guys that he plays hard all the time,” said Clark. “You can count on that effort night in and night out, defensively, on the glass. He’s our second leading rebounder. He can get to the hoop and when he gets to the hoop and finishes like he did tonight, that’s good for us. It takes some of the pressure off some other guys and it opens things up.”
Brockway led 13-12 after one period, but Clarion took the lead back on a three-pointer from Cam Craig later in the quarter at 21-19.
Craig paced the Bobcats with 22 points on the night, including four three-pointers.
Clarion held the lead until the final 30 seconds as the Rovers’ Noah Vokes’ layin gave Brockway a 25-23 lead going to halftime.
Adams hit his only trey of the night early in the second half, but Clarion tied it at 28 in the middle of the quarter.
Brockway’s Anthony Esposito hit a three to give Brockway the lead back at 31-28, and they did not give it back.
The Rovers led 40-34 with one quarter to play.
Clarion cut it to as close as three points with 2:25 to play after Craig was fouled on a layup.
Brockway’s Alec Freemer responded with a three-point play with 2:01 to go before Brockway closed out the game on the foul line.
Four players had double figures in scoring for Brockway in Puhala, Vokes (12), Adams (11) and Freemer (10).
After Craig’s 22, Calvin German had 14 points for the Bobcats, which finished the season at 17-8.
Brockway will play the District 6 champion on Saturday in the first round of the PIAA Class 2A Tournament.