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The Elk County Catholic Crusaders advanced to the semifinals of the District 9-A Tournament with a thrilling 55-52 victory over the Coudersport Falcons on Saturday night at the Aaron J. Straub Gym at Elk Catholic.
The Crusaders tied the game at 47-all on a Tyler Herzing trey with 17 seconds left in regulation. The Elk County defense then prevented the Falcons from getting a good shot off, thus forcing the game into overtime. In the overtime period the Crusaders outscored the Falcons 8-5 (six by Pearsall and two by Simons) to lock up the win and advance on in the playoffs.
"We were very fortunate to win tonight as Coudersport played a great game," said ECCHS Coach Aaron Straub. "I didn't think we did a very good defensive job on Taylor Hathaway (as he really hurt us inside) and Tim McCusker."
"Ricky (Pearsall) really stepped up tonight," noted Straub. "He struggled a little in the shooting department early, but came though when we really needed him. Tyler (Herzing) also came up with two very big buckets in the final minute of regulation to put the game in overtime.
"This was one of our poorest offensive showings of the season, as we hit only 10 percent of our three-point shots (2 for 20) in regulation and 3 for 21 overall. Overall from the field we were 18 for 50 from the field.
"We are fortunate to advance on and will now have to concentrate on a game plan for the DuBois Central Catholic Cardinals on Wednesday night in the semifinals. This will be the third time we play the Cardinals and I expect them to be out to avenge the two previous losses."
Ricky Pearsall led the Crusaders in scoring on Saturday evening with 23 points on six field goals, a trey and an 8-for-12 night at the charity line. Tyler Herzing was also in double figures for the Crusaders with 15 points on four field goals, a trey and a four-for-five night at the line. Darren Simons was next with nine points, followed by Ben Daghir with six points and Mitchel Haberberger with two points.
Pearsall had eight rebounds and four steals for the Crusaders, while Herzing, Simons and Luke Daghir each had five rebounds. Hathaway had eight rebounds and McCusker had six to lead the Falcons.
Tim McCusker led the Coudersport Falcons in scoring with 18 points on six field goals and two treys. Taylor Hathaway was next with 14 points on six field goals and two foul goals. John Michael Rigas followed with eight points, while Jason Gibson and Christopher Rigas each added five points. Kevin Wolfinger rounded out the scoring with two points.
Pearsall opened the scoring in the game for the Crusaders, but Coudy's McCusker hit the next two field goals to give the Falcons a 4-2 lead. Simons then hit a field goal and Herzing turned a three-point play to make it 7-4, Elk County. J. Rigas and Herzing exchanged field goals, then in the closing minute the Falcons scored seven straight points (four by J. Rigas and three by Gibson) to take a 13-9 lead at the end of one period.
B. Daghir hit two foul goals to open the second period, but Hathaway scored to make it 15-11. Pearsall and Herzing scored on field goals to tie the game at 15-all. Hathaway put the Falcons up by two, then Pearsall cut it to one,17-16. Another bucket by Hathaway was followed by a trey by Simons, field goals by B. Daghir and Pearsall and two foul goals by Simons to give the Crusaders a 25-19 lead. Hathaway scored the final bucket of the half to bring the score to ECC 25, Coudersport 21 at the half.
Pearsall pushed Elk's lead to six at the start of the third quarter, but three straight buckets by McCusker tied the game at 27-all. Pearsall and C. Rigas exchanged buckets, then Pearsall hit another field goal, but McCusker hit a trey to give the Falcons a 32-31 lead. Haberberger gave Elk the lead at 33-32 with a bucket, then Pearsall added a foul goal and B. Daghir a field goal on a putback to put Elk up 36-32. McCusker cut it to 36-35 with a trey and Pearsall and Hathaway each scored a foul goal to make the score at the end of three ECC 37, Coudy 36.
Hathaway and C. Rigas hit field goals to open the final period, giving Coudy a 40-37 lead. Herzing cut it to 40-39 with two foul goals, then Wolfinger and Pearsall traded points, 42-41. McCusker put the Falcons up 44-41, then Herzing hit a foul goal to make it 44-42. A foul goal by C. Rigas and Hathaway made it 46-42. Herzing drove the middle and hit a layup to make it 46-44. J. Rigas then converted a foul goal to give the Falcons a 47-44 lead. With 17 seconds left on the clock, Herzing hit a three-point shot to tie the game up at 47-all. Following a Coudy timeout, the Crusader defense prevented Coudy from getting off a good shot, thus forcing the overtime period.
In the overtime, Simons scored for the Crusaders, then McCusker hit for the Falcons, 49-all. A field goal by Pearsall was followed by a Hathaway field goal, 51-51. Pearsall hit a trey to make it 54-51, then J. Rigas hit a foul goal, 54-52. Two missed foul goals by the Falcons was followed by a Pearsall foul goal to end the scoring and give the Crusaders a 55-52 victory.
Elk Catholic is now 22-4 on the season and will take on the DuBois Central Cardinals on Wednesday in the second game of a doubleheader at Clarion University. The first game of the D9-A semifinal doubleheader will be between North Clarion and Union.
The two winners on Wednesday will then meet for the District title on Saturday, with the losers playing for the No. 3 and 4 spots in the PIAA State Tourney. Tentatively both games will be at Clarion U.
The Crusaders had eight turnovers in the game, while the Falcons had 16.
Coudersport Area 52
Kevin Wolfinger 1-0-0-0-2, Taylor Hathaway 6-0-2-6-14, Jason Gibson 2-0-1-1-5, Christopher Rigas 2-0-1-2-5, Tim McCusker 6-2-0-0-18, John Michael Rigas 2-0-4-6-8, Garret Russell 0-0-0-0-0, Alexander Furman 0-0-0-0-0. Totals 19-2-8-15-52.
Elk Catholic 55
Ricky Pearsall 6-1-8-12-23, Tyler Herzing 4-1-4-5-15, Darren Simons 2-1-2-3-9, Ben Daghir 2-0-2-4-6, Mitchel Haberberger 1-0-0-0-2, Eric Wehler 0-0-0-1-0, Luke Daghir 0-0-0-0-0, Ben Wortman 0-0-0-0-0, Josh Gebauer 0-0-0-0-0. Totals 15-9-16-25-55.
Score by quarters
Coudy 13 9 15 11 5 52
ECCHS 9 16 12 10 8 55