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D9 1A Boys: Zone Press Helps Clarion Knock off DCC and move into D9 Semifinals

Dawson Smail had a season-high 17 points for Clarion in its semifinal win. Photo by Maria Wilson

CLARION, Pa. – Pulling out a zone press it hasn’t used very much this season, Clarion needed just 1:10 to turn an eight-point third-quarter lead into a 20-point advantage on its way to a 69-45 win over visiting DuBois Central Catholic in the District 9 Class 1A quarterfinals Wednesday night.

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The third-seeded Bobcats (16-8) led 30-22 after Andrew Green hit one of two free throws for sixth-seeded DCC (11-12).

But following a 30-second timeout with 6:29 left, Clarion scored the next 12 points in quick succession with six of the points coming off turnovers to take complete control of the game.

“We got some nice turnovers, particularly when we went into the zone press,” Clarion head coach Tom Lewis said. “We haven’t used it that often. In practice, we worked on it. Today, I thought it the situation occurs we are going to throw something different. We ran zone press, two other zone defenses, plus man-to-man pressing, and man-to-man quarter court. We tried to mix it up.”


Devon Lauer started the game-deciding run with a slam dunk off a steal at the 6:12 mark of the quarter and then added a second basket off another steal with 5:53 to play in the third.

Bryce Brinkley then scored to make it 36-22, and Dawson Smail followed with an old-school 3-point play and a new-school 3-point play to push the lead to 20, 42-22.

That was part of an outstanding effort from the senior Smail, who led Clarion with a season-high 17 points.

“I was just driving the ball a lot,” Smail said. “A lot of mismatches. I was feeling my shot a little but tonight, and our whole team was moving around. It led to a lot of points.”

With Smail scoring eight first-quarter points, Clarion got the game to the speed it desired – fast – quickly scoring 15 first-quarter points before taking a 28-21 halftime lead.


“Sometimes, they play a little too quick,” Lewis said. “But the history at Clarion, as you well know, is basically we run and gun. Once they got out and saw that their defense was working it even energized them some more.”

A 10-0 first-half run helped the Bobcats erase a 12-7 deficit and take a 17-12 lead before a half-ending 9-3 spurt pushed the lead to seven at the break.

“It’s good,” Smail said. “We haven’t had too many great of games recently. To get a bounce-back game like this means a lot, and a lot moving forward.”

Watch Smail’s full postgame interview

Smail was one of four Bobcats to reach double figures in the game with Tanner Miller adding a career-high 13 points, Lauer contributing 12 points, and Derek Smail, Dawson’s younger brother, chipping in with 10 points.

DCC got a game-high 19 points from Andrew Green, who was 8 of 9 from the free-throw line, while Marek Hoyt added 10, seven in the first quarter and all 10 in the opening half. Brayden Fox also chipped in eight points.

Clarion will face second-seeded Johnsonburg in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27, at St. Marys High school.

DCC falls into the fifth-place consolation bracket where it will play a semifinal game against Northern Potter at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, at DCC.


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