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Vargas’s Shot Just Before the Horn Sends Ridgway Girls to D9 Title Game for First Time in 35 Years; ECC Rolls Past Clarion in Other 1A Semifinal

Emma Vagas hit the game-winning shot to send Ridgway to the D9 championship game for the first time in 35 years. Photo by Chris Rossetti

BROCKWAY, Pa. – Emma Vargas’s jumper from just inside the 3-point arc as time was winding down lifted Ridgway to its first District 9 championship game appearance in 35 years with a 50-48 win over DuBois Central Catholic in the Class 1A semifinals Wednesday night at Brockway High School.

“I knew I had to get it off,” Vargas said. “We had nine seconds on the clock, so it is really hard to actually set up anything. I knew if I was getting it, I had to take it up. I am sure anybody would have set it off as well.”

Third-seeded DCC (13-11) had tied the game when Emma Elensky got the offensive rebound off her own missed shot and put it back in with 14 seconds left.

The clock ran to nine seconds before Ridgway was forced to take a timeout or get called for a five-second violation on the ensuing inbounds play.


After the timeout, DCC almost got the steal before the ball got through to Kristen Ellenberger who passed ahead to Vargas who tossed up the winning shot.

“Seeing it go and fly I got really scared because I was like shaking halfway through it,” Vargas said. “I was like this thing is going to flip off or it is going to go out of path. Then I saw it go in and my heart stopped. It just dropped.”

The game appeared over as Ridgway (20-5) celebrated and DCC headed back to its bench dejected. But the officials weren’t quite ready to put the game in the books.

After a lengthy discussion, it was determined that DCC head coach Jordan Hoover called a timeout he didn’t have with 0.4 of a second on the clock. That meant a technical foul was assessed to the Lady Cardinals.

Ellenberger was sent to the free-throw line but missed both charity shots. On the inbounds play, the ball was tipped out of bounds as time ran out, and Ridgway finally got to celebrate.


“It feels amazing,” Vargas said. “We worked so hard all season to get to this point. We have been screaming and yelling and we have been so hyped our entire season trying to get to where we are now. We just worked for this. We deserve this 100%.”

It almost didn’t happen for the Lady Elkers, the second seed.

Ridgway led by seven, 40-33, following an Ellenberger basket with 3:47 to play.

Rewatch the game

But DCC went on a 9-2 run to tie the game.

Kayley Risser started the spurt with a six-foot jumper with 3:14 left, then Lexi Berta hit her first shot of the game, a 3-pointer, with 1:59 to go to back it a two-point contest, 40-38.

After Gabby Amacher knocked down a pair of charity shots with 1:16 to go, Risser hit another hoop with 26 seconds left.

Then, on the inbounds, Risser forced a tie-up with Amacher with the possession arrow in DCC’s favor leading to the Elensky tying bucket.

A real key to holding the lead was how Ridgway played following what at first looked like a serious ankle injury to its star, Jenna Kasmierski.


Kasmierski stepped on a foot with 5:20 left in the fourth quarter and her team up 36-32.

After being down for a while, she gingerly left the floor under her own power but didn’t return until there was 3:34 to go.

At that point, the four-point lead was seven.

“We knew that if she was out completely we had to do it for Jenna,” Vargas said. “We had to get this win. Of all the people, she deserves it. She works so hard. We are all leaders out there. We are all super equal to each other. We do our best each with our own different strengths. Kristen with her speed, Gabby with her speed, Grace (Bon) with her aggressiveness towards the hoops. We get it done as a team.”

Amacher led Ridgway with 17 points while Kasmierski scored 12.

Risser and Emma Elensky each had 12 points for DCC with Ella Elensky adding seven.

Ridgway will face Elk County Catholic in the title game at 2:45 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at PennWest Clarion’s Tippin Gym.

“We have been preparing for this, for Tippin, for god knows how long,” Vargas said. “It has been our goal our entire season to go be D9 champs We are going for it.”

Watch Vargas’s full postgame Cole Orthodontic Associates interview

DCC’s season isn’t over. The Lady Cardinals will play for third place in District 9 – they have already secured a PIAA playoff berth – against Clarion at a time and site to be determined on Friday, March 1.


BROOKVILLE, Pa. – Elk County Catholic is headed to its XX straight District 9 Class 1A title game thanks to a 50-29 win over Clarion Wednesday night at Brookville High School.

Taking an eight-point halftime lead, 23-15, the top-seeded Lady Crusaders (24-2) put the game away in the third quarter when they outscored fifth-seeded Clarion (14-11) 13-4 behind eight points from Tori Newton.

Newton was one of three ECC players in double digits with 12 tallies.


Syd Alexander led the Lady Crusaders with a game-high 16 points, while Sami Straub added 14 tallies.

Lacey Lauer had 11 points for Clarion with Taylor Alston adding nine.

ECC, which won the title in 2022 before falling to Otto-Eldred in last year’s championship game, will face Ridgway in the title game at 2:45 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at PennWest Clarion’s Tippin Gym.

Clarion will take on DCC in the third-place game on Friday, March 1, at a time and location to be announced. Both of those teams have qualified for the PIAA playoffs.


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