One last chance at the 'Big Dance'
PUNXSUTAWNEY — While many children dream of one day playing in the NCAA's March Madness, known as the "Big Dance," most will never reach that level.
What took place this week at PAHS, the boys' elementary tournament, gives the children a taste of what it's like to take center stage just as the college players do every March.
This year's tournament, coached by the varsity and JV players and put on by the boys' basketball coaches from all levels, was a glaring success and concluded with five games Thursday night.
Sixth-grade: Penn State 34, Ohio State 14
The first game of the evening showcased a pair of potent sixth-grade offenses, but Penn State proved to be too much for Ohio State to handle, as the Nittany Lions cruised to a 34-14 victory to kick off the night.
Penn State's offense was led by Jesse Burkett, who put up an impressive 16 points.
Four other players scored for the Nittany Lions.
Zach Pape and Matthew Wehrle came in next highest with eight points and six points, respectively.
Connor Graham and Ben Anthony rounded out the full-team scoring attack with two points apiece.
Cameron Coble led the valiant effort for the losing squad with seven points, followed by Mack Hanley with four.
Andy Ross scored a pair, and Ben Presloid added a free throw.
Sixth-grade: Northwestern 25, Iowa 14
In the second game of the final night, Tyler Richardson's 12 points pushed the Wildcats to a 25-14 win over Iowa.
Behind Richarson's double-digit performance, all four of his teammates scored, as well, with Chase Lorelli coming in second best (six points) and Austin Passmore following closely (four points).
Brandon McGee added two points, and Garrett Smith finished the scoring with a foul shot.
Kevin Constant led Iowa's scoring cause with eight points.
Lukas Deet followed with two points, and Rocky Gemmell, Carl Medsger and Jacob Ward each added one point to the team total.
Sixth-grade: Penn State 21, Michigan State 20
Penn State made it 2-for-2 on the evening when the Nittany Lions snuck by the Spartans in a thrilling 21-20 contest.
Pape led Penn State's scoring attack with 10 points.
Wehrle scored five points for the winning squad, and Burkett was just one behind him with four.
Graham added a basket for the Nittany Lions, as well.
Brandon Matthews was in double digits with 11 points for Michigan State, and Willie Hoover was one basket shy of two digits with eight points.
Antonio Stello made a foul shot to wrap up the Spartans' scoring for the evening.
Fourth- and fifth-grade: Louisville 15, Syracuse 12
In the opening act of a pair of fourth- and fifth-grade games, Louisville used a balanced scoring attack to hold off the Orange of Syracuse for a 15-12 win.
Andrew Wehrle led the Cardinals' scoring with six points, and Caden Barrick chipped in with four of his own.
Samuel Shepler and Micah Kriebel finished with two apiece, and Ethan Lainey added a foul shot to round out the scoring.
Jacob Schiel led the Orange's offense with five points, including a deep three.
Jackson Fezell hit a two-pointer and a free throw for three points, and Sean Deeley and Andrew Britton each added hoops for Syracuse.
Fourth- and fifth-grade: Villanova 16, WVU 4
The Villanova Wildcats used stifling defensive pressure to hold the West Virginia Mountaineers to just four points en route to a 16-4 victory in the evening's final contest.
Nova's scoring was led by big man Alex Gianvito, who had six points, and guard Austin Ewing, who was right behind him with four.
Graham McFarland, Alec Greenblatt and Daren Byers each added two points for the Wildcats, as well.
On the other end, Ethan Blose scored a basket, and Zackary VanLeer added two free throws for the Mountaineers' four points.