Spartans look for 1st title in 65 years
You may have heard people say that if McConnellsburg wins on Saturday, it'll be the first District 5 boys basketball championship in school history.
But here's the answer: it wouldn't be. Way back in 1952, the Spartans were awarded the boys hoops title, but what's interesting is it's still unsure if there was actually a championship game or not. The team may have been awarded the trophy simply for having the best record, due to small district sizes at that time.
Here's how mysterious it is: Current McConnellsburg coach Drew Washabaugh's grandfather might've been on the 1952 team, and he's not even sure how it all transpired.
Either way, the Spartans have a chance at bringing home the District 5 Class 2A crown, but it'll take a win over Berlin on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the University of Pitt-Johnstown.
"It would be great to win and great for this community," Washabaugh said. "We have a lot of community support, and it would be great for past players. I'm an alumni, and was in a district championship game when we came up just short. But mentally, our team is where we need to be, and we expect to win."
The pressure is riding on McConnellsburg (20-4), which has won 17 of its last 18 games, and has been the favorite to win the district since early in the season. But Washabaugh and the Spartans aren't counting Berlin (15-9) out just yet.
"Once you get to the playoffs, it doesn't matter what your record is," Washabaugh said. "You might be better than the other team that night, and then you win the game. Look at Moshannon Valley, who had just beaten us by a point in the ICC championship and turned around and lost in the second round of their districts."
Basically, all bets are off.
The strong Spartan defense will need to key in on Nick Gooden, who averages 19.4 points per game, while Gideon Snyder (10.3 ppg) and Cole Booth (10.1 ppg) are both big offensive contributors for the Mountaineers. But Berlin, as a team, averages just 42.6 ppg.
"We just have to defend as a team," Washabaugh said. "Gooden scored his 1,000th point this year, so he's probably their go-to guy, like a (Chase) Novak for us. We'll have to get our matchups right and defend like we have been. Our defense has gotten us where we're at this year."
Novak is McConnellsburg's leader with 16.9 points per game, but all of the Spartans' starting five have put up double-figure performances. Chance Hawbaker scores 12.3 ppg, Ethan Barclay averages 9.2 and Dominick Reed follows with 8.2.
SF girls fight for state berth: Just before McConnellsburg's battle for the district title, Southern Fulton's girls team will have to fight for its life in the District 5 Class 1A third-place game against Shade (12-12). The consolation game is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m.
A victory for Southern Fulton (15-7) would give it a berth in the PIAA tournament, while a loss means the season is over.
The Indians have been without leading scorer Olivia Mottern for the last four outings, but Emily Bradshaw has averaged 18.3 ppg in that time and Drew Hann has put up double figures in three of the last four games.