EDINBORO - Unlike most playoff teams with a postseason loss, the Eisenhower Knights will live to play another day.
Cochranton's Nickolas Dickson hit three 3-pointers during a decisive 13-2 third-quarter run and the Cardinals defeated Eisenhower for the third time this season, 52-34, in the District 10 Class A semifinals Tuesday at Edinboro University's McComb Fieldhouse.
Despite the loss, the Knights (9-15) remain very much alive in the postseason. On Friday, Eisenhower will play VisionQuest in the D-10 Class A Consolation Game. The winner of that game advances to the PIAA Class A playoffs while the loser goes home. VisionQuest lost to Kennedy Catholic in Tuesday's other semifinal, 68-46.
Times Observer photo by Allen Seybert
Eisenhower’s Chris Sanders (20) attempts a shot in between Cochranton’s Nate Rouche (32) and Josh Vanderhoof during the first half of a District 10 Class A semifinal playoff game Tuesday at Edinboro University’s McComb Fieldhouse. The Knights were defeated, 53-34, but advance to Friday’s D-10 Class A consolation game against Vision Quest. The winner of that game qualifies for the PIAA Class A playoffs.
Tuesday was the third meeting between Ike and Cochranton this season with the Cardinals winning big in the previous two - 57-30 on January 5 in Cochranton and 65-45 February 5 at Eisenhower.
Eisenhower boys basketball coach Dave Allenson conceded that the third quarter run - highlighted by Dickson's outburst -was the difference in the game.
"We did a lot of things well," said Allenson. "I thought we rebounded well and contested a lot of their looks. In the third quarter, we let up for a short amount of time and they were able to turn some extra looks into those big 3-pointers."
When asked how the team will bounce back with a "do or die" game waiting on Friday, Allenson said only time will tell.
"We'll find out tomorrow (at practice)," he said. "The kids really did play hard tonight. I thought Nathan O'Brien had one of his best games. He shot the ball a little more and was really all over the glass. We'll need another strong effort inside Friday (against Vision Quest). They have a big man who can really give teams problems inside."
In the early going on Tuesday's game, points were hard to come by. The Knights went nearly three and half minutes without a point to start the game, ending that drought when Aaron Lundmark canned a deep three. Moments later, Ryan Williams hit a six-footer in the lane to give the Knights their first lead, 5-4.
Cochranton scored the next six points of the quarter as the Knights went nearly three more minutes without a hoop. With time winding down in the first, Carter Farrell forced a loose ball for the Knights and Chris Sanders recovered and drove up court. Sanders missed a shot, but O'Brien's putback beat the buzzer and the Knights trailed, 10-7, after a quarter.
O'Brien would soon add the first bucket of the second quarter forcing Cochranton's coach to call a full timeout. By the midway mark of the second stanza, Cochranton was still stuck on 10 points and a pair of free throws from Jarrett Johnson gave the Knights an 11-10 edge.
With time winding down in the first half, Cochranton began warming up from deep. Logan Herzberger hit one three-pointer to make it 13-11 and added another seconds later to push the gap to five. Quick hoops from O'Brien and Alex Johnson got the Knights back within one, but Garrett Adams knocked down a three of his own for the Cardinals and it was 19-15 at intermission.
After the break, Williams scored a bucket for Ike to make it 19-17, but soon after Dickson took over the game. With Cochranton up 23-18, Dickson hit his first three to give the Cardinals their biggest lead of the night at eight points.
Jarrett Johnson stopped the bleeding with a free throw, but Dickson hit two more three-pointers to make it 32-19 with 56 seconds left in the third. The teams exchanged buckets over the final moments, but Cochranton had control of the game with a 34-21 lead through three.
The Knights didn't go away quietly chipping into the lead during the fourth quarter. Eisenhower got as closer as eight points with 3:09 remaining on a Williams drive to the hoop, but it could get no closer.
Lundmark was the lone Eisenhower player in double figures with 11 points. O'Brien added nine points and Williams scored six. Eisenhower's second leading scorer, Colin Shine, sat out the first half for undisclosed reasons and suffered an apparent shoulder injury late in the fourth quarter.
Cochranton was led by Dickson's 15 points with Herzberger adding 14 markers.
The time and venue for Friday's consolation game against Vision Quest has not yet been determined.
COCHRANTON (52): Nate Rouche 1 0-0 2, Andy Saunier 1 0-2 2, Garrett Adams 1 4-4 7, Alex Custead 2 0-0 4, Nickolas Dickson 4 4-4 15, Logan Herzberger 4 4-4 14, Josh Vanderhoof 3 1-1 7, Nathan Wigton 0 1-4 1, Totals: 16 14-19 52
EISENHOWER (34): Casey Vincent 0 0-0 0, John Potts 0 0-0 0, Aaron Lundmark 3 3-4 11, Grant Venman 0 0-0 0, Carter Farrell 0 1-2 1, Jarrett Johnson 0 3-4 3, Colin Shine 0 2-3 2, Nathan O'Brien 4 1-5 9, Chris Sanders 0 0-0 0, Alex Johnson 1 0-0 2, Ricky Zortman 0 0-0 0, Ryan Williams 3 0-0 6, Ben Harvey 0 0-0 0, Totals: 11 10-18 34
Cochranton 10 9 15 18 - 52
Eisenhower 7 8 6 13 - 34
3-pointers: C- Adams, Dickson 3, Herzberger 2; E- Lundmark 2