Fast Start Lifts Keystone to First KSAC Title Since 2009

Keystone KSAC Champs
CLARION, Pa. (D9Sports) – For all intent and purpose, the KSAC Boys’ Title Game was over before it started.

Listen to the game as it was broadcast on exploreRadio

Keystone used a 13-0 run right out the gate to build a 17-4 lead after one quarter and then held off a second-half charge from three-time defending champion Clarion-Limestone to claim its first KSAC crown in eight years with a 55-42 win Friday Night at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym.

“It’s big for these kids, it really is,” Keystone’s long-time mentor Greg Heath said. “They’ve worked so hard this season. They are happy and deservedly so.”

Three-pointers by Austin Ion and Corey Rapp set the tone in the first 1:19 for the Panthers (19-4), and Nate Wingard took over from there scoring nine straight Keystone points on his way to tying Ion for game-high honors with 17. Ion also added 16 rebounds and was named the KSAC Boys’ Championship Game MVP sponsored by exploreClarion.com.

Ion and Wingard, who were co-Hager Paving Players of the Game, talked about the victory.

The lead reached as many as 16 points, 26-10, in the second quarter before Keystone went into halftime up 12, 27-15.

Still up 12, 31-19, just over three minutes into the second half, the Panthers got a bit of a scare when C-L (17-6) went on a 10-2 run fueled by four points each Dan and Ian Callen to close to within four, 33-29, on a Deion Deas basket off a turnovers with 2:52 to go in the third quarter.

But Wingard stabilized things for Keystone with a fastbreak layup 10 seconds later starting a quarter-ending 10-0 run that saw Wingard and Ion each score four points with Ion’s 3-pointer at the horn putting Keystone ahead 43-29 after three.

“(Wingard) played great defense in the post, which we needed to have happen,” Heath said. “He was also more aggressive offensively than he has been. We also needed that from him. He did a terrific job, I think.”

C-L kept scraping using its pressure defense to fuel a 10-3 run in the fourth quarter to get back within seven, 47-40, on an Ian Callen basket with three minutes left. But that was as close as the Lions, who were trying to become the first team to win a KSAC/Clarion County League title four straight times in 58 years.

“Any time you beat that team, it’s an accomplishment,” Heath said. “That’s a very, very good team. Dan Callen always presents major problems for whoever they are playing. Anytime you get a win against them, I will take it. It’s big. Joe (C-L head coach Joe Ferguson) does a nice job with those kids. They are very good every year. We are very happy to have won.”

Callen does present challenges, and he did finish with 14 points and 12 rebounds along with a thunderous dunk, but Keystone did a good job of keeping him in check for much of the game only losing track of him in the third quarter when he netted eight points while grabbing four rebounds.

Heath said it was a hybrid defense that that did the trick.

“It was a modified box-and-one,” Heath said. “When he was in the paint, it was a box-and-one. When he was outside of the paint, it was a normal zone defense. It was kind of a hybrid. He killed us on our floor (in January). He really did.”

Heath was impressed with the discipline his team, which had scoring from five different guys including an additional 13 points and 11 rebounds from Corey Rapp, showed on offense.

“They stayed fairly disciplined on the offensive end, which we needed to do and really hadn’t been doing lately,” Heath said. “We stressed that a lot, and it paid dividends at the beginning of the game.”

Ian Callen led C-L, who was held to its second-lowest point total of the year, with 16 points while adding six rebounds.

Both teams are back in action Wednesday at Tippin Gym in the District 9 Class 2A playoffs.

Keystone, the third seed, will take on sixth-seeded Brockway at 7:30 p.m. while fourth-seeded C-L faces fifth-seeded Clarion at 6 p.m.

Keystone receives its championship medals

KEYSTONE 55, CLARION-LIMESTONE 42

Score by Quarters

Clar.-Limestone 4 11 14 13 – 42
Keystone 17 10 16 12 -55

CLARION-LIMESTONE – 42

Julian Laugand 1 1-3 3, Sam Leadbetter 0 0-0 0, Ian Callen 8 0-0 16, Christian Smith 0 1-2 1, Dan Callen 7 0-1 14, Mac Park 0 0-0 0, Deion Deas 2 0-0 4, Chris Callen-Deal 0 0-0 0, Kyle Kerle 2 0-0 4, Noah Port 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 2-6 42.

KEYSTONE – 55

Austin Ion 5 5-11 17, Dalton Jones 2 1-2 6, Tanner Wilson 0 2-2 2, Corey Rapp 5 1-2 13, Nate Wingard 5 7-16 17, Brooks LaVan 0 0-0 0, Isaak Jones 0 0-0 0, Ian Henry 0 0-0 0, Connor Exley 0 0-0 0, Kobe Cochran 0 0-0 0, Luke Hurrelbrink 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 16-23 55.

Three-pointers: Keystone 5 (Rapp 2, Ion 2, D. Jones)


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