PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Elk County Catholic boys basketball team never really found a solution to Bishop Carroll’s full-court press, and it resulted in well over 20 turnovers in a 57-47 loss to the Huskies on Tuesday evening in the second round of the PIAA Class A Tournament at Punxsutawney High School.
The loss ends the Crusaders’ season with a record of 22-7.
The Huskies’ pressure seemed to get to ECC from the get-go as they had 16 turnovers in the first half.
“We weren’t very good tonight and they were,” said Crusader coach Aaron Straub. “They were as quick as we knew they were there, and we just weren’t very good with the ball. You can get away with turnovers if they don’t turn those turnovers into points, but where we threw them the ball, they were able to turn those turnovers into points. That really hurt us. We needed to be better and we weren’t.
“When you get sped up and you’re playing faster than you’re used to playing, sometimes bad things happen. Tonight they did.”
Things started to look bleak as Crusader senior Ryan Newton fouled out of the game with 3:20 remaining and ECC down 46-42. Bishop Carroll outscored ECC, 11-5, the rest of the way. Most of those came from the line, but the Huskies’ Ben Eckenrode drained a big three-pointer with 1:22 to go to put them up 52-45.
Despite the turnovers, the Crusaders still hung in there and even had a 10-7 lead after the first quarter. They also battled back-and-forth in the second quarter and went to halftime with the game tied at 22.
Alex Breindel opened the second half with a layin before Newton took care of the rest of the offense in the third quarter. After a pair of free throws with 3:18 left, ECC led 30-25.
Carroll worked it all the way back to a 32-32 tie though after a Scotty Semelsberger trey. Nolan Burk also hit a pair of free throws as the Huskies led 34-32 at the end of three quarters.
Newton hit a corner three to open the fourth. After a Huskie basket, Brady Schneider had a three-point play to put the Crusaders up two at 38-36 with 6:34 to play.
Bishop Carroll’s Tristan McDannell, who scored 22 points off the bench for a game-high, hit a three-pointer to give his team the lead right back. They would not give it away again.
McDannell had 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter.
Newton led the Crusaders with 17 points, while Breindel and Leo Gregory had eight points apiece.
Bishop Carroll will play District 5 champion Shade on Friday in the Class A quarterfinals. Shade beat Vincentian Academy, 60-56, on Tuesday.
Carston Ertter had 16 for the Huskies.
“Tonight is not a season-defining game,” said Straub. “Obviously we weren’t ready to play against their pressure. It wasn’t for a lack of preparation and it wasn’t for a lack of work and it wasn’t a lack of heart on our guys’ part.”
Along with Newton, tonight was the final game for Logan Hoffman, Joe Aiello and Erick Mader.
“I’m real proud of our seniors,” said Straub. “Ryan had a great year. Logan, Joe and Erick worked their tails off, night in and night out. We have a motto saying, ‘Leave the program better than you found it.’ And they did.”