Feb. 23, 1968, very well might have been an unprecedented night in the annals of District 9 basketball.
Fifty-four years ago tonight, three D9 teams scored 120 or more points in their respective games.
Elk County Christian (now Elk County Catholic) coached by John Unice, scored a 120-65 victory over Bradford Central Christian, Johnsonburg defeated DuBois Central Christian (now DuBois Central Catholic), 122-94, and Sheffield took down Tidioute (when it was still a public school) 133-63.
In the ECC win, Gary Nedzinski was the leading scorer with 22 points.
The easy win was a bit of a surprise considering BCC had beaten Elk in the first game in Bradford.
But in St. Marys, ECC grabbed a 77-19 halftime lead. Imagine 77 points in a half. While hard to verify, that could very well be a District 9 record for points in a half.
Meanwhile, in DuBois, Johnsonburg coached by Fran Villella, was in a high-scoring contest with DCC.
With 216 total points scored in the game, it has to be among the highest if not the highest combined points scored in D9 history.
Fritz Kilhoffer led Johnsonburg with 33 points.
Up in Warren County at Sheffield, the legendary Nick Creola led the Wolverines to the 70-point victory. If prorated by points per minute, Sheffield would have scored over 200 points in an NBA game. The 133 tallies could very easily be a D9 record for points in a game.
Wayne Swanson led Sheffield with 36 points.
It would be negligent not to mention some of the individual accomplishments of the players in the 1960s. Don Rhoades (Clarion-Limestone), Rod Kirby (Curwensville), Pat McCellan (East Forest), Bernie Kanski (Johnsonburg), Rick Howard (Punxsutawney), George Shaffer (Union), Jack Sain (St. Marys), Dave Lynch (Venango Christian) are just a few names that set individual scoring records during the decade.
Three other names that stick out when you talk about this era of basketball are Tommy Green (Brockway/Syracuse); Dan Wetzel (Coudersport/Virginia Tech), who scored 50 points in a PIAA Tournament game in 1964 at Kelly Gym in St. Marys; and Fred Riley (Clearfield/Edinboro), who scored 59 points against St. Marys in 1968, which was the District 9 record for points in a game until this season.
And remember, this was all before the 3-point line was introduced to high school basketball in the late 1980s.
Editor’s note: Pat Gahr played at ECC in the 1970s and is the former boys’ coach at Clearfield … His inspiration for this story came from information he gathered from his older brother, Tom, who also played at ECC … Many of the statistical accomplishments mentioned in this story came from archived copies of the Bradford Era