JOHNSTOWN - Despite a run to the PIAA Class A quarterfinals a year ago, Bishop Carroll Catholic failed to bring any championships back to Ebensburg.
That won't be the case this year.
The Huskies dominated Bishop McCort, 63-30, in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference championship game Saturday night at the Richland Sports Center.
"This is absolutely awesome," Bishop Carroll guard Brandon Martinazzi said. "We lost last year [53-44 to McCort] and we've been undefeated all year and working really hard to get back here.
"This is what we wanted to do. It's a dream come true for all of us. Ever since last year, we wanted to get back here and win it, and we did it."
McCort (15-7) trailed the entire game and by at least 20 the entire second half. Bishop Carroll, the No. 1 seed in the upcoming District 6 Class A playoffs, improved to 22-0.
"Last year was last year, and this year is this year," Bishop Carroll coach Cosie Aliquo said. "These guys worked their butts off and earned it. Think about it. This team went undefeated in the Laurel Highlands. Any one of those teams can beat anyone any night."
Bishop Carroll won the opening tip, and Scott Lucas promptly hit a 3-pointer, but Bishop McCort stayed close throughout the first quarter thanks to Nemo Trexler, who is in second place on the all-time scorers' list at the school with 1,570 points.
Trexler scored all eight first-quarter points for the Crimson Crushers, who trailed by five after 8 minutes.
The Huskies clamped down on the 6-foot-5 senior shortly after, however, and he finished with just three second-half points.
"Nemo hit some tough shots early, but he just didn't hit those same shots later," Bishop McCort coach Jerry Murphy said. "It's a big floor here, and most of the floors we play on are smaller. Your legs get tired, and it's harder to hit jump shots as you go."
As McCort slowed down, the Huskies seemingly sped up. Bishop Carroll forced 20 turnovers and converted many of them into fast-break layups.
"We practice our fast breaks with confidence," Aliquo said. "I have confidence in every one of them and their ball-handling. Whoever gets it will be ready, and the person giving it up to them knows that."
While Bishop McCort leaned heavily on Trexler, Bishop Carroll was remarkably balanced.
Martinazzi exploded for 13 points in the third quarter alone en route to his game-high 22, but Marcus Lee added 10 points, David Maruca scored nine, Lucas had seven and David Swatsworth scored five off the bench.
The Huskies outrebounded Bishop McCort, 41-27, but reserve Nik Suckinos led the team with just seven rebounds.
"It doesn't matter who rebounds that basketball. I tell my guys they have to get it," Aliquo said. "If you have to knock your own players down on the floor to get it, knock them over. I don't care who rebounds it as long as we get it."
One week ago Saturday, Bishop McCort defeated the second seed in Class A, Bishop Guilfoyle, by 25 points, but the championship game marked the Crushers' second lopsided loss to Carroll. The Huskies won, 61-35, on Dec. 13 in Ebensburg.
"We ran into a pretty good team there," Murphy said. "They are tenacious from top to bottom. They put a sub in, and the sub plays hard. They dive on the floor; they'll do anything."
Bishop Carroll's next game will be against the winner of the St. Joseph's Catholic and Saltsburg game in the District 6 Class A quarterfinals later this week.
"We've been playing together for awhile, and we're all completely confident in each other," Martinazzi said. "Nobody ever has a problem with anyone, and everyone can create their own shot. This was an awesome win, and we're excited for the playoffs."
BISHOP MCCORT (30): Helsel 2 1-2 5, Rugg 0 0-0 0, Neiderhiser 1 2-3 4, Trexler 4 2-5 12, Ingram 0 0-0 0, Conahan 0 0-0 0, Wade 2 0-0 6, Coleman 1 0-0 2, Eckenrod 0 0-1 0, Deter 0 1-2 1. Totals - 10 6-15 30.
BISHOP CARROLL (63): Madonna 2 0-0 4, Martinazzi 9 2-2 22, Lee 5 0-0 10, Maruca 3 3-4 9, Suckinos 2 0-0 4, Swatsworth 0 5-6 5, Woo 0 0-0 0, Watt 0 0-0 0, Ratchford 1 0-1 2. Totals - 25 10-13 63.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop McCort 8 3 5 14 - 30
Bishop Carroll 13 19 15 16 - 63
3-pointers: Bishop McCort 4 (Trexler 2, Wade 2). Bishop Carroll 3 (Martinazzi 2, Lucas)
Records: Bishop McCort (15-7); Bishop Carroll (22-0).
Officials: Sean Albright, Dave Heim, Todd Parker