ST. MARYS – The Elk County Catholic Crusader basketball team advanced to the District 9 Class A quarterfinals by defeating the Cameron County Red Raiders by a 58-48 score Wednesday night at the ECCHS gym.
The Crusaders started out slow as they were outscored 13-5 in the first quarter, but ended the first half tied at 22. In the second half of the game, Elk Catholic outscored the Raiders by a 36-26 margin to advance.
The Crusaders will now travel to Rimersburg Friday night for a 7 p.m. game with second seed Union Knights.
“It was a good win. We beat a good team and I was pleased with our intensity,” said ECCHS coach Aaron Straub. “We didn’t have the start we wanted, but we didn’t lose our poise.”
“The key to the game for us was trying to disrupt (Anthony) Grimone, but we didn’t expect (Marquell) Torres to have the game he did,” said Straub. “Our pressure defense created some good things for us and we put ourselves in position to be successful with the run at the end of the first half.”
“Union is a very good, veteran team. We will have to be at our best Friday night,” he added.
The Crusaders were led offensively by Clayton Housler with 28 points on five two, three threes and a nine-for-15 night from the foul line. Ben Wortman scored 10 points on four field goals and a two-for-four night from the foul line.
Cameron County was led by Anthony Grimone with 12 points on four twos, one three and a one-for-one night from the foul line. Andrew Sestina added nine points, while Marquell Torres and Nate Sestina each added eight points.
A foul shot by Andrew Sestina gave Cameron County the early 1-0 lead. Wortman gave Elk the 2-1 lead. The Raiders went on a 8-0 run as Nate Sestina and Torres each had one field goal and Grimone had two. A three by Housler made the score 9-5. Nate Sestina and Andrew Sestina each scored field goals to give Cameron County the 13-5 lead after one quarter of play.
The Crusaders scored the first four points of the second quarter on buckets by Brock McCullough and Hank Cappiello. Grimone hit a three for Cameron with Wortman scoring off a steal for Elk to cut the Raider lead to 18-14. Tyler Wigfield scored for the Raiders before Wortman sank a foul shot. Housler scored for Elk with Andrew Sestina scoring for Cameron County. Housler sank one of two foul shots with 21 seconds remaining then scored a field goal with seven seconds left to cut the Raider lead to 22-20 and was fouled on the play. Housler missed the foul shot but Wortman scored on the putback to knot the game at 22 at the half.
The Crusaders scored the first 10 points of the second half as Cappiello hit a field goal with Housler sinking a foul shot. Wortman and Brandon Schlimm scored off steals and Housler hit a three, 32-22, with 5:26 left in the period. Nate Sestina sank two field goals, 32-26. Alex Herzing connected on a three for Elk followed by two fouls shots by Housler. Schlimm hit a field goal, with Cappiello making one of two foul shots, 40-26. Torres made the score 40-28. Wortman scored for Elk, giving ECC the 42-28 lead at the end of three quarters.
Torres scored for the Raiders to open the fourth quarter. Housler made one of two foul shots before Wigfield scored for Cameron, 43-34. Housler and Andrew Sestina traded buckets. Torres scored for Cameron County. Herzing sank two foul shots and Housler scored two field goals as Elk went up 51-38 with 2:10 left in the game. Cappiello sank one foul shot and Housler connected on two, 54-41. Grimone converted a three-point play, 54-44. Housler sank two foul shots before Dylan Clingan scored for the Raiders. Wortman sank one of two foul shots with 11 seconds left to make the score 58-46. Clingan hit a field goal at the buzzer, making the final score 58-48 in favor of Elk Catholic.
The Crusaders are now 14-10 on the year and will travel to Rimersburg Friday to take on the Union Knights in the 9-A quarterfinals at 7 p.m.
In other Class A action last night, Sheffield defeated Venango Catholic 54-51, while Coudersport defeated AC Valley 56-40.
Other games Friday will see Sheffield at Ridgway, Clarion at Clarion-Limestone and Coudersport at Johnsonburg. All have 7 p.m. starts.