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KC boys fall short of District 9 title

Karns City boys basketball coach Zach Kepple hands out runner-up medals to his players following Saturday’s District 9 Class 2A championship game against Redbank Valley. The Gremlins fell to the Bulldogs, 76-58. Derek Pyda/Butler Eagle

CLARION — Big runs helped Karns City put opponents away during the team's nine-game winning streak, but in Saturday night's District 9 Class 2A boys basketball championship game, the Gremlins found themselves on the wrong end of a decisive scoring spree.

Following Taite Beighley's drive for two points, KC trailed Redbank Valley 49-44 with 7:50 left in the game.

The Bulldogs then ended KC's hopes of a district crown with a 19-3 run during which turnovers played a major role in dooming the Gremlins. Redbank went on to post a 76-58 victory at Clarion University's Tippin Gymnasium.

Redbank's Owen Clouse and Breckin Minich hit treys on back-to-back possessions early in the onslaught, but KC's frustration reached a fever pitch when, midway through the quarter, three consecutive turnovers led to three baskets from Owen Clouse and a 66-47 lead.

"In every aspect of the game, they were better than us," said KC coach Zach Kepple of the Bulldogs (22-3). "We never quit, but Redbank made that last run to put it away."

"Basketball is a game of runs," said Redbank coach Manny Marshall. "I was a little worried. Karns City is a good team, no question."

The Bulldogs were fast out of the gate, with their first five field goals of the game coming from beyond the arc. But the Gremlins stayed with them. Beighley scored 10 of his team-high 21 points in the period, which ended with Redbank holding a slim 19-18 lead.

Turnovers began to hamper KC in the second quarter and Mason Clouse's shooting did not help. Redbank's senior forward had not attempted a 3-pointer in two previous playoff games, but he drained five of them Saturday, all in the first half. He finished with a game-high 26 points.

"There are things that are tough to replicate in practice and maybe we weren't mentally prepared and that's on me," Kepple said.

The Bulldogs carried a 41-29 edge into the second half, but their offense hit the skids in the third quarter. They scored just eight points and the Gremlins trimmed their deficit to 49-42.

"I'm happy, more so for the boys and seeing them accomplishing their goal," said Marshall.

Aside from Mason Clouse's 26 points, Redbank had three other players score in double figures — Owen Clouse (17), Minich (14) and Braylon Wagner (11).

The Gremlins received 12 points from Jacob Callihan and 11 courtesy of Shane Peters.

Karns City (20-7) will open the state playoffs Saturday against Fort Cherry, the WPIAL's third-place team.

"We'll either get it done or we are done," said Kepple.


Hobie Bartoe 1 0-0 3, Taite Beighley 7 4-4 21, Luke Cramer 3 0-0 7, Jacob Callihan 3 5-6 12, Shane Peters 4 3-3 11, Cole Johnston 2 0-0 4, Colson Ritzert 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20 12-13 58.


Breckin Minich 6 0-0 14, Braylon Wagner 3 4-6 11, Mason Clouse 9 3-6 26, Owen Clouse 8 0-0 17, Kieran Fricko 3 0-0 8, Jaxon Huffman 0 0-0 0, Ty Carrier 0 0-0 0. Totals: 29 7-12 76.

Karns City 18 11 13 16 — 58

Redbank Valley 19 22 8 27 — 76

3-point goals: Karns City 6 (Beighley 3, Cramer, Bartoe, Callihan); Redbank Valley 11 (M.Clouse 5, Minich 2, Fricko 2, Wagner, O.Clouse).

Saturday: Fort Cherry at Karns City,, PIAA Class 2A first-round playoff, 1 p.m.

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