CLARION - The Elk County Catholic Crusaders used an 11-0 third-quarter run to defeat the Union Knights by a 51-39 score in the District 9 Class A championship game played at Waldo Tippin Gymnasium at Clarion University Saturday night.
The first half of Saturday’s title game was an extremely low-scoring affair. Elk led 3-2 after the first eight minutes of play and 11-9 at the half.
The third period was the difference in the contest, as the Crusaders outscored the Knights 24-14 to open a 12-point lead, 35-23, with eight minutes remaining.
“In the third-quarter run, we made we got a couple of turnovers which enabled us to get a little cushion,” said ECCHS coach Aaron Straub.
“The bottom line is that we made a couple of shots,” noted Straub.
The Knights held a slim 19-18 lead with 4:34 left in the third period. ECC’s Darren Simons hit a three with Union’s Derek Shirey scoring on a putback to tie the game at 21. Simons hit another three with Shirey again scoring on a putback. Simons converted one of two foul shots, 25-23. Ben Daghir converted a three-point play for Elk to make it 28-23. Ricky Pearsall made it 30-23 and Ben Daghir hit a three, making it 33-23 with 1:02 left in the quarter. Daghir scored the final points of the third quarter, giving Elk the 35-23 lead with eight minutes remaining.
When asked about the low-scoring first half, “Karen (Union coach Karen Davis) did a great job with her kids. They would be a tough match up for anybody,” Straub said. “We were trying to work our game plan. They prevented that but I thought we were aggressive.
“Our defense was pretty good in the first half. We rebounded really well and battled on the offensive boards. That was big.”
The Crusaders outrebounded the Knights by a 39-20 margin. On the offensive glass, Elk had 21 rebounds to 12 for Union. Darren Simons and Mitchel Haberberger each had seven rebounds to lead ECC. Luke Daghir had six and Tyler Herzing had five. Five of Haberberger’s rebounds and four of Simons’ were on the offensive boards. Brody Pollock and Trent Corle each had four rebounds for the Knights.
The Crusader offense was led by Haberberger with 16 points on eight field goals. Simons had 11 points on two threes and a five-for-eight night from the foul line.
Union was led by Pollock with 21 points on five twos, three threes and a two-for-five night from the foul line. Shawn Booth was next with five.
Pollock opened the game with a two at the 5:44 mark. Elk’s first points came on a foul shot by Pearsall at the 3:24 mark. A field goal by Haberberger with 2:58 left would be the final points of the first quarter as ECC led 3-2.
Corle scored for Union to start the second period. Pearsall gave Elk the 5-4 lead. At the 5:04 mark, Pearsall converted two foul shots, 7-4, and Herzing hit a two at the 4:20 mark, giving Elk the 9-4 lead. Pollock scored a field goal and converted a three-point play to tie the game at 9-9 with 1:21 left. Pearsall hit a field goal at the buzzer, giving Elk the 11-9 lead at the half.
Haberberger scored on a putback, giving Elk the 13-9 lead at the 7:12 mark of the third period. Pollock hit a three for Union. Herzing converted one of two and Haberberger added a field goal, 16-12. Corle hit a field goal, with Simons sinking two foul shots, 18-14. Pollock hit a three and Booth added two foul shots, giving Union the 19-18 lead with 4:34 left in the third period. The Crusaders then went on a 15-4 run to take a 35-23 lead into the fourth quarter.
Booth hit a three for Union to open the fourth quarter, 35-26. Haberberger and Herzing scored to make it 39-26. Taylor Smith hit a field goal and Pollock scored on a putback, 39-30. Haberberger scored for ECC, 41-30, before Pollock hit a foul shot. Haberberger would add two more field goals before Pollock hit a three, 45-34 with 4:31 left. Haberberger scored on a putback to give Elk the 47-34 lead with 4:09 left to play. Austin Davis scored for the Knights, 47-36. A putback by Pollock made it 47-38. Simons converted a foul shot with Herzing scoring on a putback, 50-38. Simons made the score 51-38 with a foul shot. Mike Harris sank a foul shot for Union, making the final score 51-39 in favor of the Crusaders.
The Crusaders are now 24-4 on the season.
Elk Catholic will now meet Serra Catholic, the District 7 fifth-place finisher, Friday night at 8 p.m. at Clarion University. This will be third game of a tripleheader. The Cranberry girls play the first game at 5 p.m., with the St. Marys Area Dutchmen scheduled for the 6:30 p.m. contest.
The Crusaders committed 21 turnovers in the game to 13 for the Knights.
This was Elk Catholic’s 17th District 9 Class A boys’ championship. They have also won four District 9 Class AA crowns.
Taylor Smith 1-0-0-0-2, Brody Pollock 5-3-2-5-21, Shawn Both 0-1-2-2-5, Trent Corle 2-0-0-0-4, Derek Shirey 1-0-0-0-2, Austin Davis 2-0-0-2-4, Mike Harris 0-0-1-3-1. Totals 11-4-5-12-39.
Ricky Pearsall 3-0-3-6-9, Tyler Herzing 3-0-1-2-7, Ben Crowe 0-0-0-0-0, Eric Wehler 0-0-0-0-0, Brandon Pollick 0-0-0-0-0, Ben Wortman 0-0-0-0-0, Kevin Kraus 0-0-0-0-0, Michael Jacob 0-0-0-0-0, Darren Simons 0-2-5-8-11, Mitchel Haberberger 8-0-0-1-16, Ben Daghir 2-1-1-1-8, Luke Daghir 0-0-0-0-0, Josh Gebauer 0-0-0-0-0. Totals 16-3-10-18-51.
Score by quarters
Union 2 7 14 16 39
ECCHS 3 8 24 16 51