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TOP SEED: Redbank Valley Outworks Clarion in Second Half, Wins KSAC Regular-Season Title Heading into Conference Tourney

Sunday, February 11, 2024 @ 06:02 AM

Posted by Owen Krepps

NEW BETHLEHEM Pa. (EYT) – Basketball is a game of momentum. After going down 12-3 in the first quarter to Clarion, the Redbank Valley boys basketball knew they needed to stay patient. The Bulldogs knew their runs were going to come, and they did.

By the final buzzer, the Bulldogs led by 20 over the Bobcats, as they won 56-36 and secured the No. 1 seed in the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference boys basketball playoffs, which will begin next week at Clarion University.

“What we said at the half was that they made their run and now it was time for us to make ours,” said Redbank coach Emmanuel Marshall. “We just wanted to maintain composure. Basketball is a game of runs and we knew we were going to get ours.”

The third quarter was where the Bulldogs particularly made an impact. They scored 16 points, while Clarion scored just eight. Junior Breckin Minich stood out with nine points in the frame.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

“I wasn’t playing well in the first half and wasn’t knocking down my shots,” said Minich. “Coach told me to get downhill and that’s what started it.”

(Pictured above, Redbank Valley’s Breckin Minich brings the ball up the court.)

Redbank took a 28-23 lead right at the beginning of the third quarter and led 41-31 at the beginning of the fourth. Foul trouble and a lack of intensity became problems for the Bobcats.

“We didn’t rebound, we didn’t drive the baseline, we took stupid fouls, and we made ample turnovers and forced up shots,” said Clarion coach Tom Lewis. “It was just one of those games where we needed to be better. This team is mostly seniors. So some of the lessons should have been learned by now.”

The Bulldogs made their trips to the free throw line count as they drained 16 of their 28 foul shots. Owen Clouse scored seven of his 14 points from the free-throw line.

“We wanted to hit our numbers. Our goal is to shoot over 80% from the foul line. We want to shoot over 40% from three, over 50% from the field, and have less than 10 turnovers in a game,” added Marshall.

Scoring-wise, Minich led the Bulldogs with 15 points. Owen Clouse had 14. Mason Clouse, Ty Carrier, and Braylon Wagner all added seven each. For Clarion, Devon Lauer had eight points and Bryce Brinkley had seven points.

(Devon Lauer reacts during Saturday’s game.)

With the two of the best teams in the KSAC going head-to-head on a Saturday night, there were naturally a lot of people packed into Redbank Valley’s gymnasium for this game.

Marshall said this is something his team can build on as they prepare for the KSAC playoffs next week against Clarion-Limestone in the first round.

“Tonight was a great environment to play in to get us ready for the big four,” said Marshall.

Clarion will play Karns City in the first round of the KSAC playoffs.

“We’ve played them already, and they’ve got a nice team,” said Lewis. “They have some strengths that we don’t have, so we will have to be ready.”

(Clarion head coach Tom Lewis, hand on chin, watches Saturday’s game with the Clarion student section behind him at Redbank Valley High School.)

The regular season title is nice for Redbank, but Minich has a premonition that Clarion and Redbank will meet again, perhaps in the KSAC championship game.

“It means a lot. We have worked very hard for this,” said Minich on winning the KSAC regular season crown. “Clarion is a great team and we will see them again probably.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

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