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Wortman, Crusaders Scorch the Nets in PIAA Class 1A First Round Triumph Over Monessen

Elk County Catholic's Wil Wortman. File photo by Paul Burdick.

ST. MARYS, Pa. – Wil Wortman’s 34 points spearheaded a season high for points in Elk County Catholic’s 85-54 romp over Monessen in the first round of the Class 1A state playoffs.

Wortman scored 17 points in each half as the Crusaders built a double-digit lead in the second quarter and never let it dip below that the rest of the way.

“Our coaches watch a lot of film, and our players watch a lot of film,” Wortman said. “The coaches do a good job of preparing us for each game and we executed tonight.”

See Wortman’s full interview:


Elk County Catholic was aggressive right from the get-go, as has been their mantra.

Wortman and Lance O’Neil had six points each in the opening quarter and Jordan Wasko had five as the Crusaders raced out to a 19-12 lead.

ECC went on a 17-9 run to close the half, with Wortman scoring 11 of his points in the surge and the lead swelling to 15, 42-27.

ECC closed the half on a 17-9 run to take a 42-27 lead. Wortman was on fire during the run, scoring 11 points, while Chase Simbeck also had a pair of buckets.

“We did some good things,” said Elk County Catholic coach Aaron Straub.”I guess it would be an understatement to say Wil played really well. It’s been a long time coming to beat Monessen. They beat us in the Western Finals in 1988. They have beaten us four additional times since then. I was happy. I thought we played hard. I thought the focus was really good.”


ECC’s dominant play continued in the third quarter, as a 12-3 run to start the frame stretched the lead to 24, 54-30.

During that run, Colby Nussbaum had six points and Wortman four.

The lead grew to as many as 28, 60-32 on a bucket from Wortman late in the third.

Lorenzo Gardner, Monessen’s 1,000-point scorer, picked up an offensive foul early in the fourth quarter, his fourth, and was called for a technical after the play to end his night early. He finished with 18 points.

“Wil did a lot of good things on both ends of the floor,” Straub said. “Wil’s a special player. He did a very nice job on Gardner. He (Garnder) is a premiere player.”

Straub noted the preparing for Monessen helped in the fact that Claroin, who they beat for the D9 title, plays a similar style.

“This game was a little bit easier to prepare for in the sense that they were pretty similar to Clarion,” Straub said. “They ran a 3-2 and extended the 3-2. The difference was when we played Clarion we were on a bigger floor which makes attacking it a little easier. This floor, a regular high school floor, makes it a little tougher. Our preparation for Clarion morphed very well into our preparation for Monessen.”

Wortman was one of four players in double figures for ECC, as Nussbaum finished with 14, O’Neil 13 and Simbeck 11.

Rodney Johnson came off the bench to score 15 points for Monessen, while Devontae Robinson added 12.

With the win, ECC advances to play Union-New Castle, a 59-33 winner over Turkeyfoot Valley, in the Round of 16 on Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.


“We’re really happy to be moving on,” Straub said. “It was nice to get a home game. District 9 is very good and our preparation and our schedule has certainly prepared us for games like tonight.”


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