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Shooting Woes Cost Karns City, Moniteau Boys in First Round PIAA Playoffs

Shane Peters had 14 points in Karns City's loss to Fort Cherry. File photo by Mike Maslar

KARNS CITY, Pa. – Down eight at halftime at Karns City in the opening round of the PIAA Class 2A playoffs, Fort Cherry turned up the tempo rallying for a 61-52 win.

“They definitely picked it up a little bit there,” Karns City head coach Zach Kepple said. “There’s no tempo we haven’t seen before. Down the stretch, they hit shots and we were a little bit timid on offense. But I don’t think there is anything about their pace of play that put us away. I don’t even think it was really that fast of play. It’s the same style of basketball you see in District 9. They definitely changed, but I don’t think that was the difference.”

What did change was how the teams shot the ball in the second half.

After being ok in the opening 16 minutes shooting 9 of 26 (34.6%), Karns City (20-8), the D9 runner-up, couldn’t hit the ocean in the second half ending the half by shooting 28.6% (6 of 21). That included a 2-for-13 third-quarter performance from the field.

The Gremlins relied on the 3-point shot a lot but only hit three of them in the game, one after halftime.


“We talk about how we don’t want to shoot those when we are up,” Kepple said. “But, I’ve got all the confidence in the world in my guys. They are good shooters. We just weren’t letting them fall. Do we want to go to the basket, maybe draw fouls? I don’t know, because we weren’t getting those calls tonight, especially in the second half. Like I said, I have full faith in them. They know if they have the opportunity to hit a shot, have at it.”

On the strength of eight first-half points from Shane Peters and nine from Jacob Callihan – all nine came from the line where he was 9 of 10 in the half – the Gremlins built a 30-22 halftime lead.

Karns City actually led, 22-10, three minutes into the second quarter before a 10-4 that was fueled entirely by Derek Errett, who had a game-high 22 points, got Fort Cherry (21-6), the WPIAL third-place finisher, back within six, 28-22, late in the half.

But Peters scored on an offensive putback with two seconds left in the half to give the Gremlins the eight-point halftime edge.

It didn’t take long for Fort Cherry to make it known that it wasn’t going anywhere in the second half, as a 7-2 spurt to start the half had the Rangers back within three, 32-29.


Karns City pushed the lead back up to five, 36-31, following two Callihan charity shots with 2:20 to go before the end of the quarter, but Fort Cherry scored five quick points to tie the game at 36.

After the Gremlins answered back by hitting 4 of 6 free throws to go up 40-36, Blake Sweeder knocked down a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left to cut the deficit to one, 40-39, going to the final eight minutes.

Errett then scored 12 seconds into the fourth quarter to give Fort Cherry its first lead since it scored the game’s first five points.

The lead changed hands twice more with Luke Cramer giving the Gremlins a 43-41 advantage on a 3-pointer but Errett answering with a three of his own to make it 44-43.

While Karns City never led again, the Gremlins did forge two more ties at 45 and 47 apiece.

But a 3-pointer by Matt Sieg with 4:21 to play gave Fort Cherry the lead for good, as the Rangers ended the game on a 14-5 run.

“Oh, I am going to miss these guys,” Kepple said of his five-member senior class. “They have had a lot of success. Twenty-win seasons for all four years. Some of them may not have played as much as a freshman, but to be around for four 20-win seasons, that’s pretty impressive. They have a lot of accolades under their belt. KSAC champions this year. We went to the District 9 championship game this year. We were in the KSAC championship game last year. They have a lot of accolades. They play just so well together.”

Sweeder added 16 points for Fort Cherry, who will play WPIAL seventh-place finisher Serra Catholic in the second round on Wednesday, while Sieg had nine.

Peters led Karns City with 14 points and 11 rebounds with Callihan adding 11 points. Cramer chipped in with 10 tallies, and Taite Beighley had nine points, eight rebounds, and six steals.



WEST SUNBURY, Pa. – D9 champion Moniteau went cold at the wrong time, and the end result was a 56-42 loss to Mohawk in the opening round of the PIAA Class 3A playoffs at a packed Moniteau High School.

Moniteau (13-12), who won its first D9 title in school history, led 16-13 at the end of the first quarter thanks to a 7 of 14 shooting performance in the frame.

But Moniteau (both teams are nicknamed Warriors) missed its final shot of the opening eight minutes starting a stretch that saw it miss 21 of its next 24 shots.

“It’s what I was concerned about,” Moniteau head coach Mike Jewart said. “They increased their defensive intensity a little bit, and we didn’t deal with it well at first. We took a couple of bad shots that turned into good shots for them. That’s how we got down 11, and we could never get back in sight.”

Moniteau’s shooting woes included a 2 of 12 second quarter that saw it get outscored 18-4 allowing Mohawk (18-8), the WPIAL third-place finisher, to take a 31-20 halftime lead.

Things didn’t get any better in the third quarter, as Moniteau missed its first seven shots while starting the quarter 1 of 12 from the floor allowing Mohawk to build its lead to 21 points, 44-23, with just over two minutes left in the quarter.

“When we are hitting shots, things run a lot smoother,” Jewart said. “When we aren’t hitting shots, things like that can happen. And, they are good, man. They made the adjustment.”

Jewart said it wasn’t one thing that wasn’t working on offense.

“It was a little bit of everything,” Jewart said. “We took a couple of threes that went in and out. We had a couple of drives that I thought we might have forced a little bit because we started to get behind the eight ball, so we started to attack a little too much. I wasn’t really upset with our shot selection. I think it was more that they just weren’t going in.”

Despite the offensive struggles and being down 21, Moniteau never quit.

Baskets by Ayden Jackson and Chason Delarosa-Rugg before the end of the third quarter started a 17-6 run that saw the Warriors close within 10, 50-40, following an Andrew Zepeda basket with 3:21 to play.

“I have never had a group like this,” Jewart said. “These guys don’t quit. If you keep their heads in it, they fight for you. They fought their butts off.”

Jay Wrona led Mohawk, which will play rival Ellwood City in the second round on Wednesday, with 21 points with Bobby Fadde, who is already over 1,000 points as a sophomore, adding 13, and, Keigan Hooper chipping in nine.

Delarosa-Rugg led Moniteau with 13 points with David Dessicino adding nine points.


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