CLARION, Pa. – Charlie Breindel scored a career-high 28 points to help District 9 champion Elk County Catholic knock off District 10 champion Farrell, 65-53, in the second round of the PIAA Class 1A boys’ playoffs Friday night at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym.
“I had a little bit of help,” Breindel, who scored 26 of his 28 points from the second quarter on, said. “I had my AAU coach there. He has been telling me all year to shoot the ball. I had these coaches (ECC’s coaches) giving me confidence all year. Once I felt it go in once, I knew could find it.”
Breindel’s output over the last three quarters mirrored that of his team, which rallied from a seven-point deficit at the end of the first quarter to get the win.
ECC was losing 21-14 after eight minutes only to hold Farrell to 1 of 14 shooting in the second quarter and 9 of 42 over the last three quarters. This after the Steelers shot 9 of 13 in the first quarter to build the early lead.
“We got outworked in the second quarter,” Farrell head coach Myron Lowe said. “We just stopped working. I think they got comfortable, started settling for shots. But we have to work in that second quarter. That was the turning point in the game. It was a killer.”
As Farrell was going cold, ECC was heating up.
The Crusaders shot 15 of 23 from the floor over the final three quarters after going 5 of 13 from the field in the first quarter.
“What I think was the most impressive thing about tonight is when they scored 21 points and they looked like world-beaters, we didn’t flinch,” ECC head coach Aaron Straub said. “I think that is a real credit to our team. We beat a really good team. They are a good team. They have some tremendous athletes. Their point guard (Lamont Samuels) is one of the best players in District 10. He played that way tonight.”
Breindel, of course, was a big part of that.
His 3-pointer with 3:16 to go in the second quarter gave ECC a 24-23 lead. It was a lead the Crusaders never relinquished.
Breindel scores on a second-half layup
They led 26-25 at halftime – Farrell’s lone second-quarter basket came from Kabron Smith with about 16 seconds left in the half.
ECC then started the second half on an 18-7 run to get the lead to double digits, 44-32, with 3:06 left in the quarter on an Adam Straub bucket.
“They play smart as a team,” Lowe said. “They take care of the ball. They don’t turn the ball over. (Breindel) had a couple of big shots. It kind of spread the lead out a little bit.
Breindel played a key role during the start of the third quarter as well scoring 12 of the 18 points during the run.
“Charlie wills the team in the pregame warmup,” Aaron Straub said. “He wills the team in the pregame talk. He wills the team three days before we play in practice, and in the team room. He is a leader. We need him to do what he is doing for us to be successful. He doesn’t expect anything but excellence from himself, and he demands that from everyone on the team. He is really a good leader. Besides that, when your leader is your best player things sort of fall in line.
Farrell was able to get back within eight, 46-38, going to the fourth quarter, but ECC’s free-throw shooting – the Crusaders were 11 of 14 in the quarter – didn’t allow the Steelers to get any close.
While ECC (24-5) was hitting its foul shots late, Farrell was missing some crucial charity attempts that would have helped them get back in the game.
The Steelers (16-9) were just 8 of 13 from the foul line in the fourth quarter and 12 of 20 in the game.
“We’ve been having that struggle all year,” Lowe said. “I told them, one of these games it’s going to kill us. Today was one of those days.”
Luke Jansen added 13 points for ECC with Adam Straub scoring 11 and Michael Jacobs eight.
Samuels led Farrell with 19 points. He was on fire early scoring eight in the first quarter.
Samuels scored on a first-half jumper
Smith added 11 while hitting three 3-pointers, two in the opening quarter, and Nasir O’Kane eight.
ECC moves into the PIAA quarterfinals where it will play WPIAL runner-up Union (New Castle) Tuesday at a site and time to be announced. Union beat District 6 champion Bishop Carroll, 49-28.
It marks the 11th time in school history the Crusaders will play in the PIAA quarterfinals but only the second time since 2009 (2017 was the other time).
“It may not have been expected by everyone, but (it was) definitely expected by our team,” Breindel said. “In the offseason, we put in a ton of work. We feel like we deserve to be here.”
Watch Breindel’s full postgame interview
For Farrell, it was a disappointing ending to an otherwise great campaign in Lowe’s first season on the bench at his alma mater. He was just the second rookie head coach in school history to win a District title joining Tudor Lewis (1938).
“It was not the ending we expected,” Lowe said. “We wanted to go all the way. But, I am proud of the guys. They fought hard from the beginning to the end. Earlier in the year, we were a little sluggish, an up-and-down rollercoaster. We went on about an eight-game win streak. We had a couple of games at the end we lost, but all in all, they had a great year.”
NOTES: Breindel’s previous career-high was 24 achieved first vs. Northern Potter Jan. 8, 2021, and then matched in a loss to Brookville, Feb. 8, 2022. He had only scored 20 or more points on those two occasions prior to the start of the District 9 playoffs this year but has now scored 20 or more twice in the postseason having netted 22 vs. Clarion in a D9 quarterfinal victory on Feb. 25 … The 65 points were the second-most this season for ECC, which scored 66 in the D9 semifinals against North Clarion … Lowe was given a technical foul with 4:50 to play in the third quarter and his team down seven, 36-29. Breindel hit one of the two charity shots, but Smith hit a 3-pointer with 4:22 to go to get Farrell within five, 37-32, the closest they got the rest of the game … ECC’s other quarterfinal seasons were 1988, 1992, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, and 2017, all under Straub, who is in his 40th year guiding the Crusaders and now has a career mark of 912-240 as the boys’ coach and a career record of 939-262 including two years as the ECC’s girls coach. His 2006 team won the PIAA 1A title and he also took the 1988, 1992, and 2009 teams to the PIAA semifinals.
ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 65, FARRELL 53
Score by Quarers
Elk CC 12 12 20 19 – 65
Farrell 21 4 13 15 – 53
ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC – 65
Jordan Wasko 1 1-2 3, Luke Jansen 4 5-6 13, Micahel Jacobs 4 0-0 8, Adam Straub 3 5-6 11, Charlie Breindel 7 9-11 28, Colby Nussbaum 1 0-0 2, James Foradora 0 0-0 0, Ke Kang 0 0-0 0, Wil Wortman 0 0-0 0, Noah Cherry 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 20-25 65.
FARRELL – 53
Malachi Owens 2 3-5 7, Lamont Samuels 6 7-10 19, Omar Stewart 2 1-2 5, Nasir O’Kane 3 1-1 8, Kabron Smith 4 0-0 11, Kylon Wilson 1 0-2 3, Jesean Boatwright 0 0-0 0, Allen Mychael Jackson 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 12-20 53.
Three-pointers: ECC 5 (Breindel 5). Farrell 5 (Smith 3, O’Kane, Wilson)
BISHOP CANEVIN 68, DUBOIS CENTRAL CATHOLIC 33
KITTANNING, Pa. – WPIAL champion Bishop Canevin scored early and often in picking up a 68-33 win over District 9 runner-up DuBois Central Catholic in the second round of the PIAA Class 1A boys basketball playoffs at Armstrong High School.
The Crusaders (22-4) led 27-10 at the end of the first quarter and 48-18 at halftime meaning the entire second half was played under the PIAA Mercy Rule.
With the clock running, DCC (19-9) scored just two points in the third quarter and trailed 57-20 by the end of the quarter.
Jaden Gales led Bishop Canevin with 14 points with Kevaughn Price and Kair Spears itching adding 10 and Amari Evans nine, including seven in the first quarter.
Alec Srock led DCC with 11 points with Jalen Kosko adding seven.
Bishop Canevin will face WPIAL fourth-place finisher Imani Christian, a 92-51 winner over Williamsburg, in the quarterfinals Tuesday at site and time to be determined.