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Otto-Eldred Boys Make Program, D9 History with Class 2A Quarterfinal Win Over Erie First Christian

Otto-Eldred's Brax Caldwell. File photo by Jared Bakaysa/JB Graphics

CLARION, Pa. – Otto-Eldred’s historic season continues, and the Terrors aren’t just breaking new ground for their program but for all of District 9.

Despite not scoring for the final 2:42 of the game, the Terrors held off District 10 champion Erie First Christian, 42-40, in their PIAA Class 2A quarterfinal at Tippin Gym on Saturday.

With the win, the Terrors advanced to the state semifinals for the first time in program history, and are the first D9 team to make it to the Class 2A semifinals under the current classification format. East Brady reached the Class B semifinals in 1968.

The PIAA switched from a Class A, B, and C format to the more common 1A, 2A, 3A, etc. in 1976. Under the old format, Class B would be equivalent to Class 2A.

Slippery Rock (1952) and Kane (1948, 1949) are the only other D9 teams to make it to the Class B semifinals since the PIAA adopted the 3-classification system in 1948.


Otto-Eldred will take on WPIAL champion Aliquippa, a 67-56 winner over Bishop Canevin, in the semifinals on Tuesday at a time and location to be announced.

Otto-Eldred’s defense came up big when it had to late in the game. The Eagles had four chances to tie or take the lead in the final minute, but each time the Terrors came up with a stop.

Brax Caldwell grabbed Jesse Jong’s final shot just before the buzzer, and as Caldwell hit the floor, the celebration was on as the Terrors advanced to the state semifinals for the first time.

“It feels amazing,” Caldwell said. “All our hard work has paid off. But we still got more. Just take it one at a time.”

See Caldwell’s full postgame interview:


Austin Cousins’ free throws with 2:42 left were the final points Otto-Eldred scored in the game. Landon Francis missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity with just over a minute to go that set up the final four stops.

Jong had the first chance, but his pull-up jumper was short. Anthony Collins grabbed the rebound to give the Eagles another chance.

Avery Collins tried to drive for a layup, but his shot was knocked out of bounds by the Terrors. Louis Liu got his shot away, but it rolled across the back of the rim. Liu grabbed his own rebound and Jong was fouled with 7.7 seconds to play.

Jong took the inbounds pass and drove to his right. He ran into a triple team and Manning Splain nearly stripped the ball away. Jong was able to retain possession and heaved an off-balance shot. Caldwell brought it down to end it.

“They’re a really good team,” Caldwell said. “We expected a challenge.”

After outscoring Erie First 15-6 in the third, Otto-Eldred entered the fourth quarter with a 34-26 advantage. The Eagles began pressing defensively and were able to start cutting into the lead.

“They kicked it up a notch (defensively),” Caldwell said. “They started playing a lot more physical and executed really well.”

Back-to-back threes from Avery Collins and Jong tied it at 38-38 with 3:40 to play.

Caldwell answered with a layup to put the Terrors in front for good. Cousins hit the free throws to put Otto-Eldred up by four. Avery Collins got a runner to go for the final points of the game.

The teams played to a 9-9 tie late into the first quarter. Cousins hit a corner three with just over a minute to go to give Otto-Eldred a 12-9 lead going to the second.


Otto-Eldred held a 4-point lead, 19-15, with 3:42 to play in the second quarter. Erie First closed the half with a 5-0 run to take a 20-19 lead into the locker room.

The Terrors came out on fire in the third quarter. Francis hit the first of two 3-pointers in the quarter to give Otto-Eldred a 26-22 lead with five minutes to play in the quarter. Caldwell and Francis combined to score 11 of the Terrors’ 15 third-quarter points.

Avery Collins scored a game-high 16 points. Jong finished with 11 points and Anthony Collins had seven points.

Caldwell was the only Otto-Eldred player in double figures with 14 points. Shene Thomas had eight points and Cousins finished with seven.


Score by Quarters

Otto-Eldred 12 7 15 8 – 42
Erie First Christian 9 11 6 14 – 40

Manning Splain 2-0-0-5, Logan Maholic 1-0-0-2, Austin Cousins 2-2-2-7, Landon Francis 2-0-1-6, Brax Caldwell 6-2-3-14, Max Splain 0-0-0-0, Shene Thomas 4-0-0-8, TOTALS 17-4-6-42

Malakiah Riley 0-0-0-0, Jesse Jong 5-0-0-11, Avery Collins 6-3-3-16, Louis Liu 2-2-2-6, Stefano Galeria 0-0-0-0, Federico Ferigato 0-0-0-0, Anthony Collins 3-1-2-7, TOTALS 16-6-7-40

Three-pointers: Otto-Eldred 4 (Francis 2, Man. Splain, Cousins) Erie First Christian 2 (Jong, Av. Collins)


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