Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Kennedy Catholic stopped short of final again
The Golden Eagles lost a state semifinal for the second straight year, 51-50.
By BILL ALBRIGHT
CLARION For the Kennedy Catholic boys' basketball team, it was the same venue, a different opponent, but unfortunately the same disappointing result.
One year ago, the Golden Eagles fell one step short of reaching the state Class A title game when they lost to Elk County Catholic at Clarion University's Waldo S. Tippin Gymnasium.
Tuesday night, history repeated itself for the Eagles as they once again came up one step short of reaching the championship tilt with a tough 51-50 loss to DuBois Central Catholic in the Class A western finals.
"We were one rebound from going to the state tournament," said Kennedy coach Marlon McGaughy. "We have gone through a lot throughout the season and tonight was just another obstacle we had to overcome and we just couldn't do it."
After more than 47 minutes of fast-paced, up-and-down-the-floor basketball, Kennedy held a slim 50-49 lead with 16.7 seconds on the clock.
That is when DCC coach Mike Nesbit called a timeout to set up the final play of the game.
Working the ball inbounds from the left sideline, the Cardinals (27-3) worked the perimeter until Dom Varacallo found Andrew Welch inside, Welch dropping the ball through the hoop as time ran out for the 51-50 DuBois victory.
"We had things set up to run the same thing we ran on the previous play, but they [Kennedy] were pressuring our guards so much that we couldn't really run it," said Nesbit. "Sometimes it takes a little luck to get things done and on that play, things just went our way."
Pasci injures knee
Kennedy (22-6) had to go without the services of senior forward Chris Pacsi, who left the game in the first minute with a knee injury.
Kennedy seemingly had a comfortable lead in the third quarter, scoring 12 straight points to go ahead 35-17. But the Cardinals answered with 19 straight points to go on top 36-35 before Blair Rozenblad scored on a lay-up with one second on the clock for a 37-36 Kennedy lead heading into the fourth period.
"I don't know of any other team in the state who could have put together a run like that to over an 18-point deficit," praised Nesbit. "These kids have refused to lose a number of times this season and tonight was just another one of those efforts."
As for the big run by DuBois, McGaughy felt it was coming.
"They [DuBois] put on a big run," said McGaughy. "I told the guys they were going to make a run at us, but we just couldn't stop them. I called a couple of timeouts to try and stop them, but unfortunately for us, it didn't work."
Kennedy has three-point lead
During the final eight minutes, the two teams were as close as they might have been with three ties and a half dozen lead changes until Kennedy found themselves on top 50-47 with a minute remaining.
But as fate would have it for the Golden Eagles, they couldn't hold on as Welch scored on a short jumper with 40 seconds left before he got loose for the game-winner as time ran out.
For Kennedy, Blair Rozenblad closed out his abbreviated, injury-riddled season with a game-high 24 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.
"With his situation coming back from the injury, I thought he played very well tonight," praised McGaughy. "I thought he did everything we could have asked from him and possibly more. I am really upset about losing the game, but I am deeply sad about losing my five seniors."
Other Golden Eagle seniors playing their final game were Patrick Mastrian, Pacsi, Jake Allison and Bryan Frankovich.
For DCC, Dom Varacallo had 17 points. Cody Wilson added 10.