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2021 Basketball Playoffs

Three is Sweet: Brookville Wins Third Straight District 9 Class 3A Title

Photo by Mike Maslar

BROOKVILLE, Pa. – Leading from start to finish and piling up a quick double-digit lead out of the starting gate, Brookville captured its third straight District 9 Class 3A Saturday night on its own home court.

For the second straight year, the Raiders downed Kane for the title, this time in a 69-46 win that hiked the Raiders’ record to 20-2 going into Wednesday’s District 5-8-9 Sub-Regional final against Chestnut Ridge.

“It’s just a great feeling,” junior Danny Lauer, who played a key role in the victory with 18 points while being named the Allegheny Grille Player of the Game said. “My freshman year, me and Griff (fellow junior Griffin Ruhlman) played varsity. Getting a district medal our freshman, sophomore, and now junior season, we just want to keep it going for four, five, six, seven more years in a row.”

The Raiders get that game at home too, hosting the Lions who won the D5 title in a 71-62 victory over North Star Tuesday, then rallied to beat Westinghouse, 54-51, Saturday afternoon.

Last year, the Raiders beat Chestnut Ridge, 46-32, to earn a state playoff berth. They’ll have to beat the Lions again to get to a matchup with the WPIAL champion — the winner of Monday’s Ellwood City at South Allegheny final — next Saturday on the WPIAL champion’s home court.

“This is what we play for, this is the end result of what we play for and the rest is just extra basketball,” Raiders head coach Dalton Park said. “Obviously, we want to win when we step on the floor, but the rest is bonus. Let’s have fun and play hard and put together everything we’ve learned through the year.

“Years ago, I said I’d like to see us win six in a row when some of these kids were younger and that was a goal of mine. We got three in a row, it could’ve been four (buzzer-beating 2018 finals loss to Karns City), but we’ll take it one year at a time and one game at a time.”

It’s the 13th district title for the Raiders and sixth since 2010. Last year’s win over the Wolves was decided on a key third-quarter run. This time around, the Raiders led 18-5 after the first quarter and never looked back.

“They were fired up in the locker room, more than normal and that’s usually something I have to try to get them to do, but not today,” Park said. “They were ready and obviously they came out to play. We were worried because we saw Kane come back against Johnsonburg, so I told them we can’t let up. They have shooters and drivers and they can do all of those things that can help them come back. They got it back to nine points later, and that wasn’t easy, but they spent so much energy.

“I just thought we played the first quarter almost flawless.”

Of those 18 points in the first quarter that saw the Raiders force six Kane turnovers and hit 6 of 7 shots from the floor, 15 were scored by Jace Miner and Danny Lauer. Miner scored six of his game-high 22 points in the first eight minutes while Lauer nailed two 3-pointers and scored seven of his 18 points in the first.

Miner was 9-of-16 from the floor, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked three shots.

One of those blocked shots turned into a highlight-reel play.

In the first quarter, Miner blocked a 3-point attempt from Kane’s Carson Whiteman going high in the air to do so. As the fall was headed out of bounds on the far sideline, the Brookville senior dove after it. Realizing he was about to go out of bounds before securing the basketball, he somehow threw it off Whiteman to give the ball back to Brookville.

“We just get so fired up because Jace is such a great athlete,” Lauer said. “Being around him every day for the last four or five years, we kind of take it for granted how special of an athlete he is. He played a great game tonight, and the whole team played a great game tonight.”

Lauer was 4-for-6 from the 3-point line. Hunter Geer also reached double figures, hitting on six of his seven shots from the floor to finish with 13 points.

“Coming into the game, it was a long morning before a big Saturday,” Lauer said. “We got some shots up before the game, and I felt good. Credit the teammates. I just felt good.”

Watch Lauer’s postgame interview

With Lauer hitting from the outside and Miner driving through the lane for inside points, it put a lot of pressure on the Kane defense.

That helped lead to the Raider shooting 61 percent of their shots (25-for-41), nine percentage points above their just over 52 percent shooting average as a team on the season.

“Jace is such a good driver that he can get to a spot at any time of the game,” Lauer said. “I am wide open because they are all sucked off by Jace. I just have to make my shots and just keep the lane open for Jace.”

Kane, which had its season end at 8-6, had Zuke Smith lead the way with 13 points and six rebounds. Carson Whiteman, the team’s top scorer at 15.8 points per game, scored 10 points on 4-of-15 shooting. The Raiders forced 15 Wolves turnovers overall while committing 12 of their own. Kane was also held to 36 percent (17 of 47) shooting with the wolves going 6-for-24 from the 3-point line.

The Raiders’ lead stretched to as many as 15 in the second quarter at 26-11 and 33-18 just before Kane cut it to 33-21 with a 3-pointer 13 seconds before halftime.

Whiteman’s 3-pointer got the Wolves within single digits at 33-24 57 seconds into the third quarter, but a 10-0 run got it back to 45-26 after a Geer basket at the 3:05 mark. Lauer’s fourth and final three pushed it to 50-29 just before the third-quarter buzzer.

Miner’s basket at the 7:08 mark of the fourth gave the Raiders their largest lead at 55-29.

BROOKVILLE 69, KANE 46

Score By Quarters

Kane 5 16 8 17 – 46
Brookville 18 15 17 19 – 69

Kane – 46

Matt DeLuca 2 3-4 9, Bryce Bizzak 0 0-0 0, Andy Jekielek 1 2-4 4, Carson Whiteman 4 0-0 10, Zuke Smith 6 1-3 13, Josh Greville 2 0-0 5, Mason Zuzek 2 0-0 5, Jake Costanzo 0 0-0 0, Justin Mishic 0 0-0 0, Sam Lundeen 0 0-0 0, Landon Darr 0 0-0 0, Jon Mishic 0 0-0 0, Jack Bell 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 6-11 46.

Brookville – 69

Ian Pete 1 3-4 5, Hunter Geer 6 1-2 13, Danny Lauer 5 4-8 18, Griffin Ruhlman 1 0-0 2, Jace Miner 9 4-8 22, Garner McMaster 0 1-2 1, Jamison Rhoades 0 0-0 0, Robert Keth 1 1-2 4, Noah Peterson 0 0-0 0, Isaac Hetrick 1 0-0 2, Clayton Cook 1 0-0 2, Connor Marshall 0 0-0 0. Totals: 25 14-26 69.

3-pointers: Kane 6 (Deluca 2, Whiteman 2, Greville, Zuzek), Brookville 5 (Lauer 4, Keth).

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