PAHS sports roundup: 1/29/09

Boys basketball:
In a midseason showdown between two of the top basketball teams in the North Tier League, Greg Gustin and Josh Guerrero each poured in 15 points and the Gators rallied from a three-point halftime deficit to hand Cameron County its first league defeat, 44-41, last Thursday night in Port Allegany.

The victory, which pulled Port into a second-place tie with Oswayo Valley – a mere half-game behind the Red Raiders – was sweet redemption for Port Allegany head coach Bob Raudenbush, who was decidedly displeased with his squad’s second-half performance in their December game against the same team. That night, Cameron County turned a slim 23-21 lead at the break into a 55-29 rout.

“That was an eye-opener,” Raudenbush said. “We did not execute well at all offensively in the second half. So we went back to the drawing board, so to speak, and totally redid some of the things we had done up to that point in the season. You hate to get beat, but in hindsight, it helped us look at what we were doing. If they wouldn’t have done it to us, somebody else would have. So we went back and redesigned some of our offenses.

“And we didn’t play that way in the second half this time,” he added with a grin.

Raudenbush continued, “It was just an even game. Honestly, it could have went either way. Sometimes you can look back at a game and pick out a key play, a turning point, but this really wasn’t like that. We happened to have a a stretch where we scored on two possessions in a row, and made a couple of foul shots at the right time … It was good, consistent play by two evenly-matched squads.

“We did shoot a little better from the foul line than we had been; we’ve probably raised our free-throw percentage by about 12 points since the first part of the season. That helps. We’ve probably lost three games because we shot under 50 percent from the foul line. To beat a good team like Cameron County, little things like that – making a few more free throws, and five guys playing together, which is what we’ve seen in the last five or six games. We feel good about that. Hopefully we can keep it going.”

Earlier last week, in a game moved to Ulysses to free up the Port gym for a rescheduled wrestling match, the Gators rolled to a comfortable 61-27 victory over Northern Potter. Eleven Port players found the basket, with co-captains Bryce Healy (17 points) and Guerrero (12) combining to outscore the Panthers by themselves before heading to the bench with the game well in hand.

The Gators, who improved to 9-5 (6-2 in the NTL), returned to action in Austin on Jan. 27 before coming home to play Oswayo Valley on Thursday night. And while some Port fans might be tempted to look forward to the game against the Green Wave, the only team to beat the Gators since Christmas, their veteran coach knows better.

“I’ve been doing this long enough to know not to overlook anyone,” he said. “Every game is very important. You just cannot stumble anywhere. There are so many good teams, and they’ll make adjustments playing the second time. It won’t be easy; obviously, we can’t lose again. But that’s the fun part. It’s nice that we’re in the position where we play every game like it’s our last one. It should be fun down the stretch.”

So how does Raudenbush see the game against OV – so critical to both teams’ chances to catch Cameron County for the league lead – playing out?

“Oswayo is a very good team,” he said. “They have maybe the best point guard in the league, a very good forward, and good role players around them. They had us by 15 points with five minutes left (before a late Port rally fell just short in a 57-55 loss); they were really putting it to us … They’re a good, physical team. And they made 7-of-9 3-pointers in the first game; that’s hard to overcome. I think it will be a close, four-quarter game – and maybe more if need be.”

As the regular season winds down with the Gators still in contention for both the NTL crown and a good seed in the district playoffs, Raudenbush likes what he’s seen from his team lately.

“I’ve been really happy with the kids,” he said. “We’re really playing hard on defense, which is turning into good offense. And we’ve done it with consistency. As a coach, you like that because you can hang your hat on that.”

He concluded, “From 1-4 and losing some tough games, we’ve gotten things turned around and have really played some good basketball in our last five or six games. Time will tell whether or not we can keep it going. I think we can. Should be fun.”

At Duke Center, 1/19:
Port Allegany (47)
Middleton 0 0-1 0, Gustin 5 2-4 12, Gleason 3 1-2 7, Healy 3 2-3 9, Fabish 0 0-2 0, Kline 0 4-4 4, Guerrero 5 3-6 15. Totals: 16 12-22 47.
Otto-Eldred (32)
Taylor 4 1-2 10, Jordan 3 2-3 8, Williams 0 3-6 3, Woods 3 0-0 7, James 0 1-3 1, Stebbins 1 0-0 3. Totals: 11 7-14 32.
PA 10 20 32 47
O-E 10 12 18 32
Three-point goals: PA 3 (Guerrero 2, Healy); O-E 3 (Taylor, Woods, Stebbins). Total fouls: PA 13, O-E 16. Fouled out: none.
JV: Port Allegany won.

At Ulysses, 1/21:
Port Allegany (61)
Middleton 2 0-0 4, Gustin 3 2-2 8, Gleason 1 0-0 2, Healy 6 5-5 17, Parana 2 1-4 5, Fabish 0 2-2 2, Kline 2 2-2 7, Lowery 1 0-0 2, Bricker 1 0-0 2, Guerrero 4 3-6 12. Totals: 22 15-21 61.
Northern Potter (27)
Grimes 1 0-0 3, Turton 2 2-3 6, Knauer 1 1-3 3, Ranson 1 0-0 2, Palys 5 2-2 13, Barker 0 0-1 0. Totals: 10 5-9 27.
PA 17 42 52 61
NP 7 18 25 27
Three-point goals: PA 2 (Kline, Guerrero), NP 2 (Grimes, Palys). Total fouls: PA 14, NP 14. Fouled out: Knauer, Ransom.
JV: Northern Potter won.

At Port Allegany, 1/23:
Cameron County (41)
Holjencin 1 0-0 2, Sullivan 6 0-0 16, Kesterholt 1 0-0 2, Lundberg 2 2-2 8, Malizia 1 4-8 6, Barnett 1 0-0 2, Blose 2 1-1 5. Totals: 14 7-11 41.
Port Allegany (44)
Middleton 1 0-0 2, Gustin 7 1-2 15, Healy 2 3-4 7, Kline 1 2-4 5, Guerrero 5 4-6 15. Totals: 16 10-16 44.
CC 6 19 33 41
PA 6 16 31 44
Three-point goals: CC 6 (Sullivan 4, Lundberg 2), PA 2 (Kline, Guerrero). Total fouls: CC 16, PA 13. Fouled out: none.
JV: Cameron County, 57-37.

Girls basketball:
On Jan. 20, Otto-Eldred used a 12-0 second-quarter run to jump out to a 16-point halftime lead, then maintained that margin to head home from Port Allegany with a 48-31 North Tier League victory. Justine Wilkins scored a game-high 16 points for the visitors; aside from Shanel Halle’s team-leading 14 points, the Lady Gators had a tough time finding a solution for the interior defense of 6-2 Lady Terrors center Taylor Thomas.

“You can’t jump against a six-foot girl and expect to get rebounds without putting a body on her,” head coach Kristina Francis said afterward. “We came out flat-footed, and just didn’t have our legs underneath us.”

Port High got back on the winning track in Ulysses two night later, with Amarae Reinard (12 points) and Halle (10 points, five assists) hitting double digits in a 49-31 victory over Northern Potter. Francis also noted Reinard’s play on defense, and added, “It was nice to get another win around our belts. This has been an up and down season for us.”

The Lady Gators headed to Emporium on Monday night, Jan. 26, for the first of three games this week. Despite 11 points and five blocked shots from sophomore forward Renee Edgell, the team couldn’t muster enough offense to get past Cameron County, dropping a 41-33 decision to fall to 6-9 (3-6 NTL) on the season.

“We came out very slow in the first quarter. Combined with some unforced turnovers and shots in and out of the hoop, that led to a 12-point deficit at the end of the half. We couldn’t get things going in our favor,” Francis said.

The road ahead doesn’t get any easier, with 14-2 (6-2) Austin visiting on Wednesday and a trip to Oswayo Valley on Friday.

“We definitely have our work cut out for us this week,” Francis said. “We will try to rest in the off days and use defensive and offensive strategies to help keep the girls’ legs fresh. We will be playing Austin at home and it will also be the third time around, so hopefully that will be to our advantage,” she concluded.

At Port Allegany, 1/20:
Otto-Eldred (48)
Beckwith 2 0-0 5, Thomas 3 1-2 7, Robbins 1 4-4 6, Wilcox 1 0-0 2, Wilkins 7 2-3 16, Cochran 1 0-0 2, Palmer 2 0-0 4, York 1 0-0 2, Price 2 0-2 4. Totals: 20 7-11 48.
Port Allegany (31)
Evens 1 0-0 2, Middleton 1 0-0 2, B. Drabert 1 0-0 3, Reinard 0 1-2 1, Kio 1 0-0 2, Halle 5 3-4 14, Bova 1 0-0 2, Mickle 1 0-0 2, Anderson 1 1-2 3. Totals: 12 5-8 31.
O-E 6 26 32 48
PA 7 10 18 31
Three-point goals: O-E 1 (Beckwith), PA 2 (B. Drabert, Halle). Total fouls: O-E 10, PA 13. Fouled out: none.
JV: Port Allegany, 47-39.

At Ulysses, 1/22:
Port Allegany (49)
Middleton 2 1-1 5, K. Drabert 3 0-0 6, Reinard 4 4-5 12, Kio 2 1-2 5, Halle 4 2-4 10, Bova 1 0-0 2, Edgell 2 1-2 5, Anderson 1 2-3 4. Totals: 19 11-19 49.
Northern Potter (31)
Kelleher 0 1-2 1, J. Martin 1 0-0 3, Riley 1 0-0 2, O. Martin 2 0-0 4, Hess 1 0-0 2, Potter 5 0-4 10, Rounds 4 1-6 9. Totals: 14 2-12 31.
PA 6 16 31 49
NP 5 12 23 31
Three-point goals: NP 1 (J. Martin). Total fouls: PA 13, NP 16. Fouled out: Kelleher.
JV: Port Allegany, 41-26.

At Emporium, 1/26:
Port Allegany (33)
Evens 1 0-0 2, K. Drabert 1 0-0 3, Kio 1 0-0 2, Halle 1 1-2 3, Bova 1 0-0 2, Mickle 3 0-0 8, Edgell 4 3-3 11, Anderson 1 0-0 2. Totals: 13 4-5 33.
Cameron County (41)
Caton 2 0-2 4, Topolski 2 0-0 4, Dunsmore 4 0-0 8, Summers 1 3-4 5, Molly Fragale 6 0-3 12, Rodich 1 0-0 2, Knapp 0 1-2 1, Lyon 2 1-2 5. Totals: 18 5-13 41.
PA 4 16 18 33
CC 11 28 30 41
Three-point goals: PA 3 (Mickle 2, K. Drabert).

After back-to-back matches were postponed due to inclement weather, Gators head coach Sean Lathrop had to wonder how his team would react when they finally returned to the mat. Was he concerned that a 10-day gap between matches would affect his wrestlers? Not really.

“We just had harder practices,” he explained. “I don’t think the guys appreciated it at the time, but we did work hard. It’s kind of disappointing to get prepared for a match and then have it canceled, and we’ve had it happen to us twice, but they were focused enough.”

They proved it in emphatic fashion last Tuesday, when they traveled to Emporium to face Cameron County. Port swept all 14 weight classes to post a rare shutout, trouncing the Red Raiders 73-0 to win their 50th consecutive Allegheny Mountain Wrestling League match, before pushing the streak to 51 the next night with a convincing 51-21 Senior Night victory over Johnsonburg in the Port Allegany gym.

“It wasn’t really that tough,” senior Zigmund Reichenbach, one of six team captains, said of the unexpected layoff before the Cameron County match. “It’s the same as any other week. We work hard every day. We’re expected to do the job day in and day out, no matter who we have to wrestle against.” Even when the opponent is a teammate in a practice session, “We’re going hard all the time,” he said.

With that attitude and work ethic common among the Gator wrestlers, it’s easy to understand how they’ve managed to stay on top of the AMWL for the better part of a decade.

“When the streak started, Johnsonburg and Smethport were the teams to beat. Then it went to Cameron County and Smethport. There have been big matches every year to keep it alive, and the kids have stepped up,” Lathrop said.

“A lot of guys you wouldn’t expect are coming out of nowhere to wrestle just as well as anybody,” Reichenbach said. “I wasn’t a great wrestler when I started, but I worked hard to make myself better. We just have a couple of guys every year that work their way up.”

“That’s a good point,” Lathrop agreed. “We have people step in every year to take over for departing seniors, and it’s happening again this year.”

On Saturday, the Gators finished fifth in the Clearfield Bison Duals – “probably the hardest tournament we’ve been to all year,” Lathrop said – with victories over Clarion, Valley, and Keystone Oaks, and losses to Class AAA schools Clearfield and DuBois. Dylan Major (25-3) and Chet Tanner (24-2) both went 7-0 for the week, with Major pinning all but one of his opponents and Tanner adding four pins and a technical fall.

The Gators will spend the rest of this week preparing to face Smethport in the semifinals of the District 9 Team Championships Saturday afternoon in DuBois. They’ll wrestle again next Wednesday night in Smethport in a match that will most likely determine the AMWL championship, with the Hubbers seeking to avenge last season’s 40-30 loss that gave Port its sixth consecutive league title.

At Emporium, 1/20:
Port Allegany 73, Cameron County 0
103: Caden (PA) forfeit; 112*: Kio (PA) forfeit; 119: Brandon Goodreau (PA) 17-9 Kamats; 125: P. Lacher (PA) 7-6 OT Haufs; 130: Lewis (PA) forfeit; 135: Tanner (PA) 5-0 Manginelli; 140: Snyder (PA) 1:51 Bidwell; 145: Milford (PA) forfeit; 152: Greenman (PA) :14 Lingenfelter; 160: Bodamer (PA) forfeit; 171: Reichenbach (PA) 6-2 Bardo; 189: Brodhun (PA) 1:03 Stewart; 215: Major (PA) 1:44 Melott; 285: Manning (PA) 3:09 Neyman.

At Port Allegany, 1/21:
Port Allegany 51, Johnsonburg 21
103: Schreiber (J) 8-7 Caden, 112: J. Wolfe (J) 15-4 Kio, 119*: O’Rourke (J) 1:10 Goodreau, 125: Zimmerman (J) TF 19-4 P. Lacher, 130: Tanner (PA) 4:57 Z. Wolfe, 135: Lewis (PA) 1:19 Gadley, 140: Mahoney (J) 9-4 Snyder, 145: Milford (PA) forfeit, 152: Greenman (PA) 1-0 Woodford, 160: Bodamer (PA) forfeit, 171: Reichenbach (PA) forfeit, 189: Neal (PA) forfeit, 215: Brodhun (PA) 1:33 Redmond, 285: Major (PA) :56 Heathright.

District 9 Team Championships preview:

When the 2008-09 Allegheny Mountain League schedule came out late last fall, many area wrestling aficionados circled Feb. 4 on their calendars anticipating that the showdown between Port Allegany and Smethport would once again decide not just the league championship, but the winner of the annual Olean Times Herald Big 30 rankings.

As expected, the two teams have spent the entire season at the top of the weekly poll, with the Hubbers currently holding the No. 1 spot. However, fans won’t have to wait until next Wednesday’s AML match in Smethport to see the Hubs and Gators face off, although they will have to travel to DuBois High School on Saturday, Jan. 31, to catch the semifinals of the District 9 Team Championships.

The second-seeded Hubbers (5-1, 4-0 AML) can put two returning Big 30 All-Stars on the mat; seniors Tim Hubbard and Jon Marc Burdick entered the week sporting identical 19-1 records. The team suffered its first dual-meet loss of the season last Wednesday, falling 46-21 to perennial powerhouse Ridgway.

The Gators (12-8, 4-0), slotted third out of the five schools entered in the team event, will counter with defending district and regional champion Dylan Major (25-3), Chet Tanner (24-2), Adam Greenman (21-7), and Zigmund Reichenbach (18-9) leading a talented group whose only losses in the district have come at Ridgway (39-21) and Class AAA St. Marys (45-27).

Port head coach Sean Lathrop wasn’t about to make any predictions, saying simply, “I think we’re ready.” Assistant coach Alan Lovell agreed, adding,“I’m glad we get to wrestle them twice. It will be good to see them before the AMWL match.”

“I think it’s more exciting,” senior captain Pat Lacher said. “We’re facing them just when we want to.”

The matches in DuBois will start at 1:00 p.m., with top seed Ridgway facing the winner of Saturday morning’s quarterfinal between Curwensville and Brockway in the other semifinal. The championship match is set to begin at 4:00 p.m.


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