BROOKVILLE, Pa. — The last time these two teams played, Karns City captured a District 9 Class 2A title on a buzzer-beating shot at Clarion University’s Waldo Tippin Gymnasium 2018.
Four years later and now in different classifications, there wasn’t nearly the same drama, but it was a rare late-regular season matchup featuring two teams with just one loss at Brookville Area High School.
And in the matchup of the Class 3A and 2A favorites that rung with a playoff-type atmosphere, it was the Raiders who ratcheted up plenty of defensive pressure and forced 23 Gremlins turnovers in a 62-44 win Thursday night.
The Raiders won their ninth straight game to improve to 16-1 — their only loss is at Class 4A Tyrone of District 6 — while the Gremlins fell to 18-2. Karns City’s 14-game winning streak was snapped.
“We put the pressure on, we got some turnovers out of it and then it kind of put them out of sync with their offense when they set up in half-court,” Raiders head coach Dalton Park said. “The game was everything I thought It would be as far as the physicality and the offense and I thought it’d be pretty close at the end. I do believe the full-court pressure is what set the tone and that carries into our offense.”
It’s the 13th time the Raiders gave up less than 50 points and the 11th time they’ve held foes to less than 40 percent shooting (17-for-47, 36 percent). It’s also the seventh time the Raiders forced more than 20 turnovers in a game, which is impressive considering the Gremlins featured 1,500-point point guard Chase Beighley running their offense.
Raiders senior guard Jace Miner finished 20 points, eight rebounds, and eight steals and did much of the work on Beighley, who made just 5 of 17 shots from the field and finished with 12 points.
Watch Miner come up with a steal and a layup early in the game
“Our help defense was there and we rotated when we needed to to help Jace and maybe he beat him a couple of times, but someone was there usually stepping in and stopping him,” Park said. “And then we rotated and got back to the guy they were supposed to cover and made the adjustments that were needed. Hunter (Geer) did a nice job when he was on him and everyone did their role.”
Miner leads the Raiders in most statistical categories, but his defense is next-level and the rest of his teammates rev it up with him as well.
Also for the Raiders, Griffin Ruhlman scored 12 points and Geer finished with 10 points. The Raiders, who came in shooting over 50 percent for the season, shot it well again 57 percent (27-for-47) and didn’t make a 3-pointer, taking just four from downtown.
While the Raiders did force the 23 Gremlins turnovers, 14 in the first half, they gave it away 17 times and kept the Gremlins in the game.
Senior Nathan Waltman led Karns City with 18 points and nine rebounds while freshman Luke Cramer scored 12 points.
Watch Waltman with a spin move and a basket
The Gremlins were just 3-for-15 from beyond the 3-point line. Beighley was 2-for-9 from the 3-point line.
Brookville led 15-12 after the first quarter and led the rest of the way. An 8-4 run to close the first half gave the Raiders their 27-22 halftime lead.
The Raiders extended their lead to as many as seven points early in the third quarter before Karns City got it back to 33-31 at the 3:30 mark. But from there, the Raiders turned up the defensive intensity again and closed the third with a 14-3 run and got it up to 15 at 52-37 with 6:05 left in the fourth.
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