HOLLIDAYSBURG - Claysburg-Kimmel's most successful boys basketball season in decades came to an end Thursday night.
The Bulldogs fell to a quicker, deeper Homer-Center team that pressed and trapped Claysburg from the opening tip on its way to a 72-48 victory in the opening round of the District 6 Class A playoffs at the Hollidaysburg Area Junior High School gym.
Turnovers and foul trouble plagued sixth-seeded Claysburg from the start. The Bulldogs turned the ball over on five their first six possessions and finished the game with a total of 30.
"You can't turn the ball over at the rate we did," Claysburg coach Josh Klausman said. "If you play 100 games and turn it over the way we did, you'll lose 100 times, but they put us in that position. They're the quickest team we faced all year."
Three of the six Bulldog regulars-Austin Lamont, Carter Cerully and Cody Dugan-also had two fouls apiece by the end of the first quarter.
"We knew they were a scrappy, hard-nosed team, but they don't go very deep," Homer-Center coach Bob Rado said. "We wanted to get after them early and make them use a lot of energy."
Despite the early troubles, Claysburg trailed just 7-6, but the third-seeded Wildcats ripped off an 11-0 run for an 18-6 lead late in the first quarter. John Capitosti sank a 3-pointer from the corner and scored on the fast break. His older brother Joe added a layup and a pair of free throws.
"They pressured us really well," Dugan said. "The early turnovers put us in a hole and made it really hard to fight back."
The brother duo combined for 35 points with sophomore John going for 19 and senior Joe scoring 16. Darren Carr had a double-double with 11 rebounds and 17 points, 16 of which came in the second half.
Claysburg chipped away at the Homer lead in the second quarter. Lamont scored going to the rim and Brandon Gergely converted a pair of free throws.
Luke Eberhart followed with a weakside layup off a Gergely pass from the corner, and Gergely hit the second of his four 3-pointers from the same corner as part of his team-high 16 points.
Dugan scored down low off a feed from Gergely, and when Lamont put in a layup off a pass from Tyler Brown, Claysburg was down just three, 24-21.
The Wildcats answered with a trio of 3-pointers. John Capitosti drained a 3 from the wing followed by a Joe Capitosti trey from the opposite wing. John Ireland hit another 3-pointer to put Homer back up by double digits.
Eberhart closed out the first half scoring with layup that pulled the Bulldogs back to within single digits at the break 35-24.
Homer-Center took command of the game early in the second half with a 12-0 run. The Wildcats outscored Claysburg 25-9 in the third quarter for a comfortable 59-34 lead heading to the fourth.
"We'd make one mistake and that would lead to three or four other ones," Klausman said. "At times we broke their press, but for every time we did, four or five other times were wasted possessions."
Lamont scored in double digits for Claysburg with 13 points. Eberhart pulled in a team-high eight rebounds, and Lamont added six.
Claysburg's season ends at 12-11, the team's first winning season since 1973-74.
"I'm real proud of these kids. They worked their tails off," Klausman said. "Not a person in the world thought we'd be a winning program. They really took that to heart and wanted to change that."
Homer-Center (21-2) moves on to play Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic in the semifinals.
CLAYSBURG-KIMMEL (48): Lamont 5 3-6 13, Brown 2 1-2 7, Gergely 5 2-2 16, Cerully 1 2-2 4, Eberhart 2 2-5 6, Dugan 1 0-0 2, Claycomb 0 0-0 0, Keller 0 0-0 0, Ebersole 0 0-0 0, Luciano 0 0-0 0. Totals - 16 10-17 48.
HOMER-CENTER (72): Dellapenna 1 1-6 3, John Capitosti 8 0-0 19, Carr 7 2-4 17, Joe Capitosti 5 5-5 16, Miller 0 0-1 0, Ireland 3 0-1 7, Brewer 0 0-0 0, Berezansky 0 2-2 2, Citeroni 2 2-6 6, Wolford 1 0-0 2, Black 0 0-0 0, Moore 0 0-0 0, Pollack 0 0-0 0, McLoughlin 0 0-0 0, Arone 0 0-0 0. Totals - 27 12-25 72.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Claysburg-Kimmel8 17 9 11- 48
Homer-Center18 16 25 13- 72
3-point goals: Claysburg-Kimmel 6 (Gergely 4, Brown 2); Homer-Center 6 (John Capitosti 3, Joe Capitosti, Carr, Ireland).
Records: Claysburg-Kimmel (12-11); Homer-Center (21-2).