Brockway Edges Keystone in Class 2A Quarterfinals


CLARION, Pa. (D9Sports)– Sometimes you just have a team’s number.

(Photo of Noah Vokes of Brockway, who was the Hager Paving Player of the Game)

For the second straight year, sixth-seeded Brockway knocked off third-seeded Keystone in the District 9 Class 2A playoffs.

Relisten to the game

This time, it was the Rovers (12-12) building a 12-point fourth quarter lead and then holding off a frantic Panthers’ comeback to get a 46-42 win at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym.

Brockway led 17-14 at halftime before using an 8-0 run in the third quarter after Keystone had tied the game at 17 to grab the lead for good.

Noah Vokes, who had left the game midway through the first quarter after a collision with a Keystone player that gave him a nasty cut to the left side of his forehead only to return later in the quarter bandaged up, scored six straight points during the run and finished the game with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.

“I was just seeing I had that back cut a lot,” Vokes, the Hager Paving Player of the Game, said. “Whenever we would catch it in the high post, we had the back cut. They tossed off the back cut.”

Listen to more of Vokes’ thoughts on the win.

Vokes’ spurt helped Brockway increase the lead to 28-23 after three quarters, and then Zane Puhala scored four points and Anthony Esposito hit a 3-pointer in the first 2:30 of the fourth quarter to push the lead to 12, 35-23.

“Our defense is probably one of our strengths,” Brockway head coach Rick Clark said. “A lot of our stuff is predicated right off our defense.”

Still down 10, 37-27, with four minutes left Keystone (16-7) tried to rally behind two quick baskets by Corey Rapp that started a 15-8 run that ended with a Rapp 3-pointer with 18.6 seconds left that cut the Brockway lead to three, 45-42.

“They never quit,” Keystone head coach Greg Heath said. “They gave me great effort all year. There was no quit in these guys. That’s what I told them in (the locker room). I’m proud of them. I’m proud of the effort they have. If there is any blame, it’s on me not on them. That’s for sure.”

After Rapp’s three Keystone was out of timeouts and the Panthers had trouble fouling the Rovers. By the time Puhala was finally fouled with 6.4 to play he was able to hit the second end of a double-bonus situation to put the game out of reach.

In fact, Puhala hit 3 of 4 charity shots in the final 34.6 seconds on his way to tying for game-high honors with 13 points. Those free throws were big considering the Rovers were just 3 of 9 from the line in the second half up to that point.

“We found a way to finish,” Clark said. “That’s what we talked about finishing games. We knocked down free throws when we needed to, not as many as we would have liked but the big ones when we needed it.”

CHRIS’ THOUGHTS

1. Vokes played like a warrior and also showed great sportsmanship.

Vokes was all over the place and was easily the Rovers best player. The senior was the most physical player on the court and showed the toughness of the football player he was when he got knocked down and was bleeding. Instead of worrying about himself he was more worried about the welfare of the Keystone player he collided with.

“At first, I didn’t realize I was cut,” Vokes said. “I was like, my sweat is kind of warm. Then I realized it was blood. Then I checked the other guy and made sure he was alright. Once I knew he was alright I was like alright I will get stitched up and ready to go. The adrenaline took over I didn’t feel it at all.”

Brockway was dominate with Vokes in the game and led 10-2 when he got hurt. When he returned late in the quarter, the score was 10-7 and it was 10-9 at the end of the quarter.

“To start the game, I thought our defensive intensity was excellent,” Clark said. “We got some stops, some runs out and finished. We got off to the good start then that tough break with Noah allowed them to kind of catch their breath. They were able to get back in it.”

2. Defense wins championships.

Vokes summed up Clark’s halftime message pretty simply.

“We had to make sure we stopped them on defense,” Vokes said. “That’s big. If they can’t score and we score we win the game. So stop them on defense and take smart shots and we would win the game.”

3. Having some time off helped Brockway regain some of its mojo.

The Rovers were 10-7 after a win over Sheffield Jan. 31 but went just 1-5 after that including entering the playoffs on a four-game losing streak. But the week off seemed to help Brockway recapture that early season form.

“I think it did,” Vokes said. “It didn’t sit well with us. We got back in the gym and said we are in playoffs now. It’s win or we go home. We put in a bunch of hard days in the gym. We were like we just have to win. I’m glad we got the win tonight.”

4. Heath was frustrated … with himself.

In the postgame interview, Heath squarely pointed the finger at one person – himself.

“We didn’t do a lot of things as much as I would have like to,” Heath said. “That’s one me. I didn’t have them prepared. It’s on me. The kids played hard. It’s my fault I didn’t have them ready.

“I’m disappointed. I’m not disappointed in them. They are a great bunch of guys and gave you all they had all year. I’m disappointed in me. I think I did a lousy job. We didn’t improve from midseason on. In fact, in some areas, we may have regressed. I am not sure why that is. I did a lousy job. I will need to rethink things whether I want to continue to do this or not.”

Here’s betting Heath is back for season No. 34. Not because he is 12 wins shy of 600 in his career, but because he is still a great coach. Perhaps the best the KSAC has ever seen and one of the top two or three coaches of all time in District 9.

Yes, Keystone may have had higher hopes for this season but 16 wins are still 16 wins. Heath has more basketball knowledge in his left pinky finger than most of us combined could gather in a lifetime.

Perhaps, he could have done a better job down the stretch this season as he said. But the fact of the matter is his kids, like he said, never quit.

And that is a testament to them and how much they like playing for him. Teams that don’t like their coach or think the coach doesn’t know anything don’t play hard. They simply give up. This Keystone team never gave up. Some bounces didn’t go their way, but they were right in the game until the end. One or two made shots by Keystone, one or two more missed free throw by Brockway and it’s the Rovers who are wondering what happened not the Panthers.

As in any close playoff game, there has to be a winner and a loser but both teams played exceptionally hard and both coaches should proud of the effort displayed by their teams.

5. Wow the scoring was so balanced.

Vokes was the Player of the Game, but it could have gone in so many different directions. You had Puhala with the 13 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. Carter Adams had 12 tallies and his defense earlier on set the tone for the Rovers.

It was the same for Keystone. Dalton Jones and Isaak Jones each had 13 points and Corey Rapp had nine tallies with the senior putting his team on his back in the fourth quarter trying to rally scoring seven of his points in the final 3:29.

THE ROAD AHEAD

Brockway will take on second-seeded Coudersport, the team that beat the Rovers in last year’s D9 title game, in the semifinals at a time, site and date that, of course, hasn’t been announced. Hopefully, that information comes earlier in the weekend from the District 9 committee.

Keystone’s season is over.

BROCKWAY 46, KEYSTONE 42

Score by Quarters

Brockway 10 7 11 18 – 46
Keystone 9 5 9 19 – 42

BROCKWAY – 46

Zane Puhala 5 3-5 13, Josh Salada 0 0-0 0, Noah Vokes 6 0-2 12, Anthony Esposito 2 0-0 6, Carter Adams 4 4-6 12, Alec Fremer 0 0-0 0, Jon Wood 0 3-4 3, JD Wood 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 10-17 46.

KEYSTONE – 42

Max Thompson 1 0-0 2, Ian Henry 0 0-0 0, Dalton Jones 5 1-2 13, Luke Hurrelbrink 1 0-0 2, Isaak Jones 4 5-5 13, Alex Rapp 0 0-0 0, Dawson Steele 0 0-0 0, Conner Exley 0 0-0 0, Corey Rapp 4 0-0 9, Brooks LaVan 0 0-0 0, Nate Wingard 1 1-2 3. Totals 16 7-9 42.

Three-pointers: Brockway 2 (Esposito 2). Keystone 3 (Dalton Jones 2, Rapp).

Rebounds: Brockway 12 offensive, 17 defensive, 29 total (Vokes 10, Puhala 5). Keystone 17 offensive, 18 defensive, 35 total (Wingard 8, Thompson 7, Hurrelbrink 6).


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