Keystone Holds Off Late Smethport Charge to Move on in D9 2A Boys’ Playoffs

| February 20, 2019

KANE, Pa. (D9Sports) – Keystone built a 12-point lead early in the fourth quarter and then somehow held off a furious late rally by Smethport to advance to the District 9 Class 2A boys’ basketball semifinals with a 48-45 win in the quarterfinals at Kane High School Tuesday night.

(Photo: Keystone’s Troy Johnson gets ready to take one of his two critical free throws at the end of the game. Johnson had 14 points while being named the Hager Paving Player of the Game for the Panthers in their win over Smethport in the D9 2A quarterfinals. Photo by Tessa Boschert. Check out more of Boschert’s work here)

“That one was ugly, but we pulled through and came out on top,” Keystone’s Troy Johnson, who was named the Hager Paving Player of the Game, said.

Keystone (17-6), the third seed, led 35-23, following two Isaak Jones free throws with 7:08 left in the game, and still led by 11, 38-27, following two more free throws, this time from Johnson, with just over five minutes to play.

But Smethport, the sixth seed, wouldn’t go away answering time and again until the Hubbers cut the lead to two, 46-44, on a 3-pointer by Caleb Lutz, Smethport’s fourth triple of the fourth quarter, with 33 seconds left.

Then, after Max Thompson missed two free throws, Smethport had a chance to tie the game when Conner Alfieri was fouled with 15 seconds to play.

Alfieri hit the first shot to make it a one-point game but missed the second. The Hubbers, however, got the offensive rebound and kicked the ball out to Lutz for a 3-pointer for the lead. But the shot was too strong, and the rebound went out of bounds to Keystone with eight seconds left.

Keystone got the ball to Johnson, and the junior was fouled with 3.5 seconds to play. He calmly went to the line, blocked out the noise being made by the very full Smethport student section and hit both charity shots to make it a three-point lead, 48-45.

“Coach always talks about having a routine,” Johnson said. “So I always focus on that and sink them.”

Johnson answered, “No, sir,” when asked if he could hear the noise being made by the Smethport faithful.

“I just heard coach’s voice and my parents,” Johnson said.

Watch Johnson’s full post-game interview.

After Keystone took the 11-point, 38-27, lead on the Johnson free throws with 5:06 to play, Smethport went on a 10-2 run thanks in large part to freshman Noah Lentz, who came off the bench to hit a pair of 3-pointers, to close the gap to three, 40-37, on two Alfieri free throws with 3:45 to play.

“They had some subs off the bench who could shoot,” Johnson said. “We had some bad matchups at times.”

Keystone looked like it had weathered the storm when Andrew Lauer took a feed from Jones to score with 3:05 left to make it 42-37, and Dawson Steele hit both ends of a one-and-one to make it 44-37 with 1:14 left.

But Smethport just kept coming.

After Alfieri hit one of two charity shots at the 1:07 mark, Brooks LaVan missed a free throw for Keystone, and Eric Szarowicz drilled a 3-pointers at the 50.2-second mark, to make it a 44-41 contest.

Steele answered with a pair of free throws with 42.8 seconds to play before Lutz hit his three to make it a 2-point game.

After a very pedestrian first half that saw Keystone hold a 17-16 halftime lead, the Panthers outscored Smethport 16-5 in the third quarter behind four 3-pointers, including a pair from LaVan, to take a 33-21 lead into the fourth quarter.

Johnson and Steele both had a game-high 14 points for Keystone with Jones adding eight.

Lutz paced Smethport with 13 points while hitting three 3-pointers. Alfieri chipped in eight points, including six in the fourth quarter, while Lent had six points on the two fourth-quarter 3-pointers.

Keystone will take on second-seeded Ridgway in the semifinals. The Panthers are guaranteed two more games with three District 9 teams going to the PIAA playoffs a third-place game will be held.


Score by Quarters

Smethport 8 8 5 24 – 45
Keystone 12 5 16 15 – 48


Layne Shall 1 0-0 2, Noah Costa 1 0-0 2, Conner Alfieri 2 4-6 8, Noah Lent 2 0-0 6, Eric Szarowicz 2 2-2 7, Brandon Peterson 2 0-1 4, Hunter Helsley 0 0-0 0, Ian Woodruff 1 1-2 3, Caleb Lutz 4 2-2 13. Totals 15 9-13 45.


Troy Johnson 4 4-4 14, Max Thompson 1 0-2 2, Luke Hurrelbrink 0 0-2 0, Isaak Jones 2 4-4 8, Alex Rapp 0 0-0 0, Dawson Steele 3 5-6 14, Andrew Lauer 2 0-0 4, Conner Exley 0 0-0 0, Brandon Kapp 0 0-0 0, Brooks LaVan 2 0-1 6. Totals 14 13-19 48.

Three-pointers: Smethport 6 (Lutz 3, Lent 2, Szarowicz 1). Keystone 7 (Steele 3, Johnson 2, LaVan 2).

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