PIAA basketball stock image

PERRYOPOLIS – Feeding off its vociferous home fans, Frazier clinched at least a tie of its first section title in 31 years with a 61-30 beatdown of California Thursday in what was supposed to be a first-place showdown.

“Thirty-one years feels like an eternity when you think about it,” said Frazier coach Zach Keefer. “The kids were so focused and played tenacious defense all game long.

“I am so proud of the team, but I am not satisfied.”

California coach Aaron Balla did not pull any punches in describing what happened.

“Home court is always nice, but Frazier came out like they lost sleep from the last game,” he said of the Jan. 29 game at California, won by the Trojans. “They showed us they wanted it more.”

The Class 2A Section 4 outcome was never in doubt from the start when the Trojans (3-2, 3-3) had eight turnovers in the first quarter compared to their 10 made baskets the entire game while Frazier (8-1, 14-3) shot lights out.

It was the opposite of the first game between the two teams.

In that game, the Trojans rarely missed shots in the first half and Frazier did not make a shot from farther than a layup until there was 6:45 left in the game.

“We knew we couldn’t have played any worse than we did in the first half at California, and we wanted this,” Keefer said. “From that point on, we reset our season.”

After using a 14-1 run to take control of the game in the first quarter Thursday, Frazier held a 31-16 lead in the closing moments of the half.

California’s Payton Conte drilled a buzzer-beater from four feet past midcourt to cut the Frazier lead to 31-19 and Balla hoped the shot would give the Trojans momentum to start the third.

“We were hoping it would be a momentum turn. We addressed things at halftime, and everyone was on board,” Balla said. “Then we continued to not play defense.”

Instead, Frazier outscored California 23-6 in the third to eliminate any hope of a comeback and triggered the mercy rule early in the fourth quarter.

Colton Arison (16 points), Owen Newcomer (15) and Luke Santo (14) paced Frazier in scoring while Nate O’Savage (13) was the lone Trojan in double figures.

Keefer was happy with the offensive output of Arison, Newcomer and Santo, but he said the entire team did the little things all game long.

“I told the team that the little things would win this game and we did them over and over and over,” he said. “Diving on the floor, getting the loose balls, we did what we had to do and controlled the game.”

Frazier hosts second-place Monessen (5-2, 7-6) Monday and the storyline is simple.

If Frazier wins, it has its first section crown since 1990 to itself. If Monessen were to win and win out its remaining section games, the two teams would share the section crown.

“We don’t want to share anything and that is going to be a big game,” said Keefer. “We have to take care of business as it is hard to beat a team twice.

“They are coming to our place and we have to play with the same type of intensity as we still control our own destiny.”

California is at Bentworth tonight for its third section game in as many days.

“We have to learn quick, and it is best for us to have a quick turnaround,” said Balla. “We have to control what we can control from here on out.”


See what people are talking about at The Community Table!

Thank you for reading!

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading. If you have a subscription, please Log In.