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Moniteau wins 1st district title

Warriors rally from 7 down in final 3 minutes
The Moniteau Warriors celebrate their District 9 Class 3A championship game win over Brookville Thursday night. Holly Mead/Special to the Eagle

CLARION — With under three mintues remaining in Thursday’s District 9 Class 3A title game, Brookville held a 7-point lead over Moniteau at Clarion University.

The Raiders could have landed a knockout punch, but failed to do so, and the Warriors made them pay for it.

An 11-3 run vaulted Moniteau to a 58-57 victory, earning for the Warriors their first-ever district championship in boys basketball.

“I’m a Moniteau grad and have been part of the basketball program here for a number of years,” said Warriors coach Mike Jewart. “To see our guys come through like they did tonight, it means everything.”

Moniteau (13-10) had tied the game several times in the second half, but it was sophomore guard Andrew Zepeda who put them in the lead twice. His basket with 58 seconds left gave the Warriors a 57-56 lead.

Then, after Brookville’s Kellan Haines tied the game with a free throw, Zepeda answered by making one at the other end for a 58-57 edge with just 6.3 seconds left.

But the drama was far from over.

Brookville’s Jack Pete, who scored 23 poitns in the game, missed two free throws with just 2.4 seconds left. Players from both teams were battling for the rebound when an official inadvertently blew his whistle.

“When I heard that whistle, I saw one of our guys, David Dessicino, with the ball,” Jewart said.

But the call went against Moniteau. Brookville was ruled to have had possession at the time of the whistle, giving the Raiders (11-12) one last chance with four tenths of a second left.

Luke Burton, who drained three treys earlier in the game, got off an uncontested attempt from the corner and almost went down.

“I thought it was good,” said Jewart. “The last moments of the game, with everything going on, it was nerve-racking.”

Chason Rugg scored 20 to lead Moniteau and Zepeda added 18. The latter also spearheaded Moniteau’s press defense that was key to the rally.

“Winning a district championship means the world to me,” said Rugg. “We knew this team had the best chance to win at Moniteau in a decade or two.”

In the second half, Moniteau was 10 of 13 from the free throw line. In the same span, Brookville was one of eight.

Moniteau will return here next Friday to face either Westinghouse or Chestnut Ridge in a subregional playoff.

Moniteau 58

Chason Rugg 7 3-3 20, Connor Ealy 1 0-0 2, Andrew Zepeda 8 2-5 18, Aydan Jackson 2 4-6 8, Landon Kelly 0 1-2 1, David Dessicino 2 3-4 7, Brendin Sankey 1 0-0 2, David Martino 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 13-20 58.

Brookville 57

Wyatt Lucas 2 0-0 6, Luke Burton 3 2-2 11, Kellan Haines 3 1-2 7, Jack Pete 9 4-12 23, Cale Kornbau 3 2-4 8, Cater Mackins 1 0-0 2. Totals: 21 9-20 57.

Moniteau 16 13 10 19 — 58

Brookville 15 17 9 16 — 57

3-point goals: Moniteau 3 (Rugg 3); Brookville (Lucas 2, Burton 3, Pete).

March 1: Moniteau vs. Westinghouse/Chestnut Ridge winner at Clarion University

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