PAHS basketball roundup: 2/19/09

“Senior Night” was an appropriate title for the Port Allegany boys’ basketball game last Tuesday evening. After a pregame ceremony to honor the players and cheerleaders who are completing their final season at Port High, the Class of 2009 scored all but seven points in the Gators’ 44-35 victory, keeping them from being upset by an undermanned Otto-Eldred squad.

“What a really good group of kids,” Gators coach Bob Raudenbush said afterward. “They’re best friends, and I think that carries into how they support each other in athletics. I don’t think they care who does the scoring, or who’s in the paper the next day, it’s how WE did. You look to your seniors for leadership, and they have provided it. That’s why we’re where we’re at … Our seniors have set the tone, and everyone else has shown the leadership to respond to them.”

One of those seniors, Josh Guerrero, led all scorers with 17 points. Classmate Bryce Healy chipped in with 10 and added five rebounds, including two critical ones in the final two minutes, when O-E had fought its way back from an 18-point deficit to make it a two-possession game.

After Shawn Barnish’s fourth basket of the quarter cut the Gators’ lead to 40-35 with 3:00 remaining, Healy pulled down the rebound on the Terrors’ next shot. From there, the Gators worked the clock before another senior, Greg Gustin, got open underneath for a layup to give the home team a little breathing room as the clock ticked under a minute. O-E point guard Jeff Stebbins quickly brought the ball upcourt, but Healy was again in perfect position to clear the glass on the missed shot, dribbling until the Terrors fouled him so they could call time out with :36.6 left. When play resumed, Healy broke to the basket to cap the scoring with another layup, and the Gators secured their ninth consecutive win on their home court.

The Terrors made their fourth-quarter run despite dressing just seven players and missing several – including the North Tier League’s leading scorer, Wayne Taylor – to injury or illness. Asked how his depleted team managed to stay in the game against a far deeper Gator squad, coach Lance Baker said, “I’m very pleased with that. I told the players, ‘Don’t ever hang your heads over this one.’” Barnish led O-E with 12 points; Preston Woods added 10 and Stebbins nine for the visitors.

“I thought Otto’s kids played well, considering they were down a few kids,” Raudenbush said. “They made a nice push at the end to cut it to five, but I thought our kids responded well and got some big buckets inside.”

Port tuned up for the District 9 playoffs with a 48-28 win over Northern Potter in Thursday’s regular-season finale, clinching second place in the NTL behind league champion Cameron County. Healy (13 points) and Gustin (10) hit double figures for the Gators, who rolled out to a 23-point lead at the end of the third quarter before cruising to the win.

Port’s 15-6 overall record was good enough to earn the seventh seed, with 10th-seeded Union (14-8) visiting for a first-round game on Wednesday night as this issue of the newspaper goes to press. The matchup will feature contrasting styles, as a stingy Gators defense allowing a district-low 42.4 points per game attempts to slow down guard Scott Booth, already a 1,000-point scorer in his junior season, and the Golden Knights’ fourth-ranked offense (61.8 ppg).

The winner of the Port Allegany-Union game will travel to Knox on Friday, Feb. 20, to take on KSAC champion Keystone (21-2), the No. 2 seed, in a 7 p.m. tipoff on the Panthers’ home court.

“It’s been a good run, and hopefully we can close it out here,” Raudenbush said. “Great group of kids. They’ve worked hard – summer leagues, a lot of those AYBT tournaments, traveling to Harrisburg and Williamsport – and they deserve what they’re getting.”

At Port Allegany, 2/10:
Otto-Eldred (35)
Jordan 1 0-0 3, Barnish 4 2-2 12, Woods 5 0-0 10, Stebbins 3 0-0 9, Hauber 0 1-2 1. Totals: 13 3-4 35.
Port Allegany (44)
Gustin 4 0-0 8, Gleason 1 0-0 2, Healy 4 2-2 10, Fabish 0 0-0 0, Guerrero 8 0-1 17, Middleton 0 2-4 2, Kline 1 0-0 3, Lowery 1 0-0 2. Totals: 19 4-7 44.
OE 7 13 21 35
PA 16 23 37 44
Three-point goals: O-E 6 (Stebbins 3, Barnish 2, Jordan), Port 2 (Kline , Guerrero). Fouls: O-E 12, Port 11. Fouled out: Woods.
JV: Port Allegany, 43-35

At Port Allegany, 2/12:
Northern Potter (28)
Grimes 3 4-8 12, Turton 1 2-2 4, Ransom 1 0-0 2, Palys 3 2-2 10, McCutcheon 0 0-2 0. Totals: 8 8-14 28.
Port Allegany (48)
Middleton 2 0-0 4, Gustin 4 2-2 10, Healy 3 7-11 13, Kline 3 0-0 7, Guerrero 2 0-1 5, Gleason 1 0-0 2, Parana 0 0-4 0, Fabish 2 0-0 5, Lowery 0 2-2 2, Miles 0 0-1 0. Totals: 17 11-21 48.
NP 5 11 18 28
PA 14 27 41 48
Three-point goals: NP 4 (Grimes 2, Palys 2), Port 3 (Kline, Guerrero, Fabish). Total fouls: NP 17, Port 14. Fouled out: Turton.
JV: Port Allegany, 48-28

The Lady Gators’ final two games were a microcosm of their up-and-down season, with coach Kristina Francis’ squad earning an unexpected road win before suffering a disappointing Senior Night loss.

On Monday, Port surprised a playoff-bound Otto-Eldred team, jumping out to an eight-point halftime lead and holding on to post a 59-51 victory, earning a split in the season series. Shanel Halle poured in a game-high 21 points in the win, with Kaitlyn Kio (18) and Jenn Anderson (12 points, 16 rebounds) also lighting up the scoreboard for the Lady Gators.

“We showed up to play, and we were on the stick from the get-go,” Francis said. “We executed as a team; we were taking it to the hole and playing great defense. Everyone pitched in – we had three girls in double figures – and it was just a great team effort.”

Unfortunately, the team couldn’t carry that momentum into the final game of the season against Northern Potter on Wednesday. Although the game was tied 17-17 at the half, NoPo’s size advantage gave Port problems inside all game long, and when Halle headed to the bench with her fourth foul just before the end of the third quarter, the Lady Panthers took advantage of her absence to pull ahead.

The game came down to free throws in the final period: Northern Potter made 8-of-12 attempts in the quarter, Port misfired on 10-of-11, and a late Lady Gator rally fell short.

Junior forward Tristin Rounds led all scorers with 16 points for the Lady Panthers.

“It was a good way to end the season, especially with the kind of season we’ve been having,” said Northern Potter coach Robb Cowburn.

A disappointed Francis said, “We had opportunities to close the game and to take the lead back, but when you can’t make free throws and you can’t finish … The opportunities were there; it was up to us to execute.”

Anderson scored a team-high 13 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, finishing her Port High career on a strong note with her second double-double in a row. Kio added eight boards and four steals for the Lady Gators, who finish the season at 9-12, 6-8 in the North Tier League.

“Overall, it’s been a learning season, and hopefully we’re going to take our bumps from this season and be able to improve and look at what we need to do to be better next year,” Francis concluded.

At Duke Center, 2/9:
Port Allegany (59)
K. Drabert 1 0-2 3, Reinard 2 0-2 4, Kio 8 2-3 18, Halle 6 7-11 21, Anderson 3 6-10 12, B. Drabert 0 1-2 1. Totals: 20 16-31 59.
Otto-Eldred (51)
Beckwith 3 0-1 6, Thomas 5 2-2 12, Robbins 0 1-4 1, Wilkins 6 2-3 15, Price 4 0-0 8, Cochran 1 0-0 3, York 3 0-0 6. Totals: 22 5-10 51.
PA 16 28 44 59
OE 8 20 39 51
Three-point goals: Port 3 (Halle 2, K. Drabert), O-E 2 (Wilkins, Cochran). Fouls: Port 9, O-E 18. Fouled out: Beckwith.
JV: Port Allegany, 34-26

At Port Allegany, 2/11:
Northern Potter (47)
J. Martin 2 1-2 6, Riley 0 0-0 0, Furman 3 1-2 7, Hess 1 0-0 2, Rounds 6 4-9 16, O. Martin 1 2-2 4, Potter 6 0-0 12. Totals: 19 8-15 47.
Port Allegany (42)
K. Drabert 1 0-0 2, Reinard 3 3-10 9, Kio 1 3-4 5, Halle 1 1-2 3, Anderson 6 1-4 13, Middleton 0 0-1 0, Mickle 3 0-3 8, Edgell 1 0-0 2. Totals: 16 8-24 42.
NP 6 17 27 47
PA 8 17 25 42
Three-point goals: NP 1 (J. Martin), Port 2 (Mickle 2). Fouls: NP 19, Port 19. Fouled out: Hess, Halle.
JV: Port Allegany, 34-24

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