Buzzer beater too late, Johnsonburg Rams fall 42-41

Photo by Rich Quiggle — Austin Green, 24, nails one of his four three pointers Friday night against Clarion Limestone. Johnsonburg lost 42-41.Photo by Rich Quiggle —  Isaac Schloder, 10, gets a one handed floater to go during action Friday night against Clarion Limestone. The Rams lost 42-41.
Rich Quiggle
Special to the Record

The Johnsonburg Rams, down by two with 3.7 ticks left on the clock, got the ball to Gabe Watts, who dribbled up the sideline, between three defenders, then stopped, set himself and let a three ball go from behind the arc that found nothing but net. The only problem, the shot was about a half a second after the buzzer sounded and Clarion-Limestone held on to defeat the Rams 42-41 in the consolation game of the District 9 Class A basketball championships at DuBois Area High School Friday night.
“On the last shot, maybe I didn’t communicate well enough, but we reversed the ball to the wrong side. We didn’t get the shot off in time,” Johnsonburg head coach Bill Shuey said.
With the Rams clinging to a two point to start the fourth quarter, the Lions were the first to score in the quarter and take a 33-32 lead on a three-pointer from Deion Deas. Another three by Ian Callen had the Lion back up by four, 36-32. Schloder then found Gino Gregori open in the corner for Johnsonburg and they trailed by one, 36-35. Watts drew a foul driving the lane and converted one of two from the charity stripe and we were tied at 36-36. The teams then exchanged baskets before Ian Callen and Curvin Goheen scored back to back layups after Johnsonburg turnovers to take a 42-38 lead. After a missed free throw by Callen, Green drained a trey and the Rams trailed by just one, 42-41. Another missed opportunity at the free throw line for Clairon-Limestone set up the near heroics of Watts at the buzzer, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“Nineteen turnovers,” Shuey said. “We dribbled into pressure and lost control of the ball, and that can’t happen at this point in the season. I thought we played pretty good defense most of the time, but we did lose some of their shooters at times, but some of those threes were from pretty far out.”
Clarion-Limestone started the scoring when Hayden Callen drained a three for a 3-0 lead. Callen then hit his second trey of the game a minute later and it was 6-0 Lions. A pair of free throws by Isaac Schloder with 3:26 left in the quarter finally got the Rams on the board. Watts stole a skip pass from Clarion-Limestone and found Austin Green open on the wing for a three and Johnsonburg cut the lead to one, 6-5. On the Rams next possession, Watts again found Green uncovered for another triple and the Rams had their first lead of the game at 8-5. Ian Callen made one of two from the line before Green hit his third three-pointer of the quarter to put Johnsonburg up 11-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Eric Christoff’s three-pointers early in the second quarter gave Johnsonburg a seven-point lead at 14-7. Nick Bliss’ jumper on Johnsonburg’s next possession gave the Rams their largest lead of the game at 16-7. Julian Laugand hit a triple from deep and cut the Johnsonburg lead to 16-10. Schloder made it eight points again 18-10, Deas scored the next five points for the Lions to cut the lead back to three at 18-15. Another long triple from Deas tied the game at 18-18. Schloder’s layup and subsequent free throw ended C-L's 8-0 run and put the Rams back on top 21-18. Deas and Watts exchanged buckets and Hayden Callen added a free throw before halftime and Johnsonburg led 23-21 at the halfway point of the game.
Both teams scored nine points each in the third quarter to set up the thrilling finish.
Green led the Rams (16-10) with 14 points and three rebounds. Schloder pitched in with a double-double, 12 points, and 10 rebounds and dished out four assists. Watts scored just three points but had six rebounds, five assists and four steals for a solid stat line.
Deas led all scorers for Clarion-Limestone (22-4) with 18 points and three steals. Ian Callen netted 12 points and had five rebounds and four steals.
“We have some young kids in there and hopefully they learn from this experience,” Shuey said. “I think what I haven’t done well is get them to play as a cohesive group, we had some individual play a little too much, but they played as hard as they could, they rebounded well against a taller team. We had an opportunity to win and opportunities to put the game away, but the turnovers hurt us, and we didn’t get some of the 50/50 balls we could have to win.”
Both teams will be in action next Friday night in the first round of the PIAA State Playoffs. Clarion-Limestone, who will be the third seed out of District 9, will take on Juniata Valley, the District 6 champion. Johnsonburg, who will play as the number four seed from District 9, will get the task of taking on the WPIAL champion out of Pittsburgh, Nazareth Prep. A site and time will be announced later on this weekend.
“Nazareth Prep plays a 2/3 zone and are very fast,” Shuey said. “We will have our hands full with them.”