|GUARD PLAY WAS THE DIFFERENCE FOR DUBOIS CENTRAL CATHOLIC|
By Chris Rossetti
CLARION – The more basketball I watch, the more I come to the conclusion that great guards or great guard play is the true path to greatness.
Give me small, quick guards any day over slower big men. I will find a way to beat you.
DuBois Central Catholic showed me once again why that is the case Tuesday night in its 51-50 come-from-18-down win-and hit-a-shot-in-the-closing-seconds win over Kennedy Catholic in the PIAA Class A boys’ Western Final Tuesday night at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym.
The Cardinals’ guards – especially in the final 13 minutes – outplayed Kennedy Catholic’s guards and were able to off-set Kennedy’s inside presence of 6-foot-3 Youngstown State recruit Blair Rozenblad.
Sure Rozenblad got his points (24) and rebounds (14). But what did the rest of the team do? The rest of the Golden Eagles scored 26 points combined among them. And the so-much heralded sophomore guards for Kennedy that were reportedly brought in after the Golden Eagles playoff blow-out loss to Elk County Catholic last season including leading scorer Marsell Holden (15.4 ppg), a transfer from Farrell, and third-leading scorer Kyle Randall (13.0 ppg), what did they do?
Try 16 points, six assists and 13 turnovers from Kennedy’s three starting guards – senior Patrick Mastrian was the third – including 10 points, six assists and 10 turnovers from the two super sophomores (5 points, 5 turnovers each, 0 assists from Holden and 6 from Randall).
Compare that to the DCC starting guard trio of juniors Christian Spilman and Dom Varacallo and senior Cody Wilson.
Those three scored 36 of DCC’s 51 points (17 by Varacallo, 10 by Wilson, 9 by Spilman)
including all 19 during a critical 19-0 run that erased the 18-point deficit in a span of 3:46 in the third
quarter that allowed the Cardinals a chance to win the game. On top of that, they added 13 assists (5 from
Varacallo, 5 from Spilman, 3 from
“Our guards were phenomenal tonight,” DCC head coach Mike Nesbit said. “They totally
out played Kennedy’s guards. We knew coming in that they had the big three of the two guards (sophomore Kyle
Randall and Marsell Holden) and Blair Rozenblad (Kennedy’s 6-3 senior who is playing at
DCC’s guard play allowed the Cardinals to win despite getting zero points from senior forward Chris Wulderk, who entered the game tied with Wilson for the team lead at 13.0 ppg while averaging 19.0 ppg in DCC’s first three PIAA playoff games, and 14 from the three key inside players of Wulderk, Andrew Welch and Erik Johnson, although Welch, who finished with eight, did hit the game-winning shot with just over two seconds left.
“If you had told me at the end of the night that Chris had no points, I won’t think we would have won,” Nesbit said. “Our guards did a great job tonight. You can’t say enough about them.”
If DCC’s guards to that same great job Friday afternoon against District 3 champion Reading Central Catholic, then the Cardinals will be lifting their first PIAA championship trophy and the second in two years for District 9.