WPIAL continues to bully District IX on the court
CLARION — Brookville's two basketball programs ran into the bully on the block in the first round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs and neither team could come away with a win.
The WPIAL regularly beats up on District IX in the state playoffs. The Brookville boys' team (22-3) fell to the WPIAL fifth-seed Jeannette (16-7) 68-57 at Clarion Saturday, while the Lady Raiders (17-8) lost to WPIAL third-seed Bishop Canevin (21-5), 60-39.
Brookville isn't alone, as most District IX teams struggled in the state playoffs against Pittsburgh area schools.
District IX boys' schools went 1-5 in the first round of the state playoffs against WPIAL schools.
Class A Elk County Catholic was the only District IX school to win, as it beat Serra Catholic 58-49 Friday.
The WPIAL has 41 Class AA teams for boys' basketball and 43 for girls', while District IX has 10 boys' teams and eight girls' teams.
Brookville head coach Bud Baughman thought that his team could have performed better if it had more opportunities to play similar competition.
"I think if we played competition like that all year that we would have been able to beat them," Baughman said.
The Jayhawks were afraid of Brookville, especially with the Raiders' size advantage. Jeannette head coach Adrian Batts was worried, especially after his team fell behind 34-28 at halftime.
"We were worried about coming up here and playing in their backyard," Batts said. "They won 22 games this season, and we knew they had some size. I was surprised with how well No. 24 (Kyle Baughman) played."
Brookville came apart in the second half when Jeannette started to crash the boards harder and turned up the pressure on defense.
"I think the press got to us," Baughman said. "Our kids played an excellent game, but in the second half, we were tired."
On the girls' side, District IX went 1-4 against the WPIAL in the first and preliminary rounds of the PIAA playoffs. Class A Coudersport was the only team to win, as it beat Aliquippa 75-60 Saturday.
The Lady Raiders, who were playing in their first state playoff game in nearly a decade, had problems matching Bishop Canevin's size.
Brookville tried playing a zone to slow down Bishop Canevin's offense, but the Lady Crusaders were able to effectively attack the Lady Raiders' zone, while stifling their offense.
"We had to play zone to keep the game tighter," Brookville girls' head coach Mark Powell said. "Their size made them tougher to defend because they could see over our defenders and were able to pass the ball better."
Since it hadn't played in a state playoff game for so long, Powell said his team was trying to get its feet under them. Both teams played a sloppy first period with a lot of turnovers, but Brookville trailed only 16-10.
But as the game progressed, the Lady Crusaders' size and speed wore down the Lady Raiders.
"I wasn't sure what to expect," Powell said. "But I think it was a great way for our four seniors to go out. And I think the underclassmen played well, and it should help our program."