Clarion-Limestone Beats Clarion 72-69 in KSAC Thriller


CLARION, Pa. (D9Sports.com) – It’s not often that a high-school basketball game in December lives up to its billing.

But the Clarion-Limestone/Clarion boys’ clash Tuesday night at Clarion High did that and more, as the defending District 9 Class A champion Lions stayed unbeaten with a 72-69 thriller of a win over the home team before a packed house.

“I’m just really proud of them,” C-L head coach Joe Ferguson said. “For this early in the season and for how young of a team we have, for them to jell and mesh together tonight was a pretty thing to see.”

In a game that featured 12 ties and 12 lead changes, the go-ahead point was scored by a freshman, Julian Laugand, after a strange play that saw him be fouled by Clarion’s Reed Anthony with 12.4 seconds left as the Lions, who were playing without leading scorer Dan Callen (concussion) held for the last shot of regulation.

Laugand buried the first shot to put C-L ahead 70-69 but missed the second shot. Clarion’s Jonathan Smith grabbed the rebound but was off balance, and even though it appeared that he got rid of the ball before taking a step he was called for a travel. Noah Rankin was then fouled and hit both free throws to put the Lions up 72-69.

Clarion had two chances to tie the game in the final five seconds, but a fadeaway three by Cam Craig was off the mark, and a final 3-pointer, after the rebound came right to Ryan Anthony, bounced off the rim setting off a wild celebration by the C-L students, who rushed the court.

“I knew it was going to be intense tonight,” Ferguson said. “But I no idea it was going to be this kind of an atmosphere. When Jonathan put down that two-handed dunk and the crowd just went crazy, that’s why I called timeout. I wanted to silence the crowd a little bit just to get my kids settled down a little bit. But oh what a great atmosphere. It reminded me of the DCC double overtime game here. It’s only December. It was only the seventh game of the season for us and the fifth for Clarion. It’s was like wow what intensity.”

The dunk Ferguson was referring to was a monster jam by the 6-foot-5 Jonathan Smith, who transferred from a school in southern Maryland to Clarion this season. It came with 3:50 to play and put the Bobcats up 64-59.

Clarion still led by five, 66-61, following a basket by Ceventh Lynch-Skunda, who missed a chance to make it a six-point game when he missed the ensuing free throw, with 2:49 to go.

But sophomore Christian Smith, who played at Clarion last year for his dad, Todd, who was the Bobcats coach until being let go after the 2014-15 season, got C-L, he and his older brother Taylor transferred to C-L before the school year, back within two with a 3-pointer with 2:31 to go. It was one of four threes by the younger C-L Smith, who finished with 18.

Rankin, who had a career-high 24 point, then tied the game at 66 with a bucket at the 2:09 mark.

It was Rankin who then gave C-L then lead, 68-66, after he was fouled by Jonathan Smith going for a rebound with 1:13 to go.

“I had a lot of playoff games last year that had a lot of hype, so I got used to it,” Rankin said. “It kind of made it easy for this year.”

Rankin was again fouled with 38.2 seconds left, but this time he only hit one of two charity shots to make it a 69-66 game. Thirteen of Rankins 24 points came in the fourth quarter.

“I just do whatever the team needs,” Rankin said. “They needed me to score so I scored. It’s just playing basketball. Whatever you need done, just do it. We didn’t have Dan, so we all had to step it up. The bench guys played well too.”

Reed Anthony answered for Clarion with a dagger of a three with 26.9 seconds left before he went from hero to goat in the blink of an eye with the foul.

“I can’t speak highly enough about all the kids,” Ferguson said. “I said the kids that were on the bench who came in and gave me minutes early on were honestly critical to the end of the game.”

As a game with so many lead changes and ties would tend to be, the contest was fantastic from the start despite 17 fouls being whistled in the first quarter and Clarion shooting the double bonus before the end of the quarter.

The Bobcats led 21-19 at the end of eight minutes after ending the opening frame on a 11-1 run after trailing by eight, 18-10, with 1:30 to go in the quarter. The game then went back and forth throughout the second quarter with the Bobcats ending the quarter with a 38-35 lead after Taylor Smith buried a 3-pointer for C-L with 3.5 seconds left in the half.

Taylor Smith hit another three right out of halftime to tie the game at 38, and C-L took a 40-39 lead on a Christian Smith basket a half-minute later.

But again Clarion roared back behind the play of Jonathan Smith, who finished with a game-high 27 points to go with 10 rebounds.

Eight points by the senior helped give the Bobcats a 58-52 lead at the end of the quarter.

But again it was Rankin (four points) and Taylor Smith (a 3-pointer) who kept the Lions close in the fourth quarter before they were finally able to jump ahead.

Bo Miller added 12 points and nine rebounds for Clarion with Craig adding 10 points.

CLARION-LIMESTONE 72, CLARION 69

Score by Quarters

C-L 19 16 17 20 – 72

Clarion 21 17 20 11 – 69

CLARION-LIMESTONE – 72

Julian Laugand 0 2-4 2, Noah Rankin 8 8-9 24, Ian Callen 2 0-0 4, Taylor Smith 8 0-0 20, Christian Smith 7 0-2 18, Devin Beers 0 2-2 2, Travis Aites 1 0-1 2, Bailey Wrhen 0 0-0 0, Anthony Louder 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 12-18 72.

CLARION – 69

Ryan Anthony 1 0-0 2, Bo Miller 5 1-2 12, Jonathan Smith 13 1-5 27, Ty Burford 2 0-0 4, Cam Craig 4 1-4 10, Ceventh Lynch-Skunda 4 0-1 9, Spencer Miller 0 0-1 0, Reed Anthony 2 0-0 5.

THREE-POINTERS – C-L 8 (Taylor Smith 4, Christian Smith 4). Clarion 4 (B. Miller, Craig, Lynch-Skunda, Reed Anthony).


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