Panthers humbled in final

JOHNSTOWN – Other than scoring on a run-out on the opening tip, not much went right for the Northern Bedford boys basketball team Saturday night.

The Panthers couldn’t hang on to the ball, they struggled from the field, and they let their emotions get the best of them.

Unfortunately, it couldn’t have come at a worse point in the season.

Conemaugh Township took advantage and didn’t hold anything back in a 75-29 drubbing of Northern Bedford in the District 5 Class AA championship game at the Pitt-Johnstown Sports Center for its second straight title.

“We turned the ball over way too many times,” said Northern Bedford coach Barry Crawford, whose team committed 25 turnovers on the night. “Ten turnovers in the first quarter. That’s 10 opportunitites to score that we didn’t get to score. You can’t turn the ball over that many times.”

The Indians (22-3) cashed in early on five consecutive Panthers turnovers, which helped them go on a 12-0 spurt for a 10-point lead midway through the first quarter.

Things continued to go downhill for Northern Bedford (19-6), and Conemaugh Township built a 24-8 lead after one, led by Josh Burns’ 13 first-quarter points.

Conemaugh Township coach Chuck Lesko felt his team had a little extra motivation for the quick start, too.

The Indians dropped a 61-53 decision to the Panthers in the opener of the UPJ Mountain Cat Tournament on Dec. 14.

Since then, they have only lost once in 20 games.

“We were a little motivated to play,” he said. “We felt when we played them in December, we didn’t give them our best showing. I think our guys had a little chip on their shoulder.”

Burns added four more points in Conemaugh Township’s 20-point second quarter to give him 17 for the half. He finished with a game-high 24 points.

“The kid has just worked so hard for us for the last five or six years,” Lesko said of his senior guard. “He may not always show up in the scoring column, but tonight he did. But he just works and works and works. We call him our workhorse. All of the success he had tonight was just a culmination of the things he’s done for years and years.”

“He just killed us in the first half,” Crawford said of Burns. “That was the big factor. We came in looking to control him a little bit, and [Dillon] Boyer. We controlled Boyer [seven total points], but we let Burns just go wild. We’ve got to play better defense.”

Northern Bedford was just 11-for-53 (21 percent) from the field, including a miserable 4-for-30 (13 percent) effort in the second half.

Conemaugh Township nevel let up, though, and led by 41 heading to the fourth quarter.

“I think the whole second half was frustration,” Crawford said. “The kids got a little frustrated. They had expectations. When you’re down 20, 30 points, that’s very difficult for young kids to understand and regroup.”

Zach Pressel led the Panthers with six points, while Zane Snyder, Kyler Diehl, Blake Over and Brandon Litzendorfer each scored four.

The Indians’ Jeremy Sotosky netted 18 points, and Jeff Fisher added 15.

“Our defense created a lot of opportunities for our offense,” Lesko said. “When we can get out and run the floor because of our defense – I think it was a good kick-start for our offense as well.

“We had a little size matchup problem with them, so we knew we had to get after them defensively. We wanted to dig at the ball as much as we could. We were going to ‘D’ it up tonight one way or the other and take our chances.”

Conemaugh Township will travel to Somerset on Tuesday to take on District 8’s Westinghouse in a PIAA play-in game.

NORTHERN BEDFORD (29): Z. Pressel 1-2 3-4 6, Snyder 2-12 0-0 4, Diehl 2-8 0-0 4, T. Pressel 1-7 1-1 3, Over 2-9 0-0 4, Barnes 1-3 0-0 2, England 1-6 0-0 2, Litzenberger 1-5 2-2 4, Cronrath 0-1 0-0 0, Petrou 0-0 0-0 0, Zimmerman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-53 6-7 29.

CONEMAUGH TOWNSHIP (75): Speigle 2-4 0-1 6, Boyer 3-17 1-2 7, Fisher 7-12 1-3 15, Sotosky 7-12 4-4 18, Burns 8-11 6-7 24, Callihan 1-3 0-0 2, Formica 0-0 3-4 3, Steeves 0-0 0-0 0, Blough 0-0 0-0 0, Wilson 0-1 0-0 0, Layton 0-1 0-0 0, Maurer 0-0 0-0 0, Hostetler 0-2 0-0 0, Bailey 0-0 0-0 0, Valentine 0-0 0-0 0, Stahl 0-0 0-0 0, Henry 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-63 15-21 75.


Northern Bedford8 12 5 4 – 29

Conemaugh Township24 20 22 9 – 75

3-point goals: Northern Bedford 1-17 (Z. Pressel), Conemaugh Township 4-11 (Speigle 2, Burns 2).

Records: Northern Bedford (19-6), Conemaugh Township (22-3).