West Shamokin's Clowser lights up Cager Classic

| Monday, March 24, 2014, 12:09 a.m.

West Shamokin senior guard Zane Clowser is headed to Pitt-Johnstown this fall to study electrical engineering.

Saturday night, Clowser helped lead an electrifying comeback as the West all-stars scored 75 points in the second half to defeat the East all-stars, 112-109, in the boys game at the 18th annual Cager Classic at Highlands High School.

Clowser scored 24 points, including trio of 3-point field goals in the second half to help spur the remarkable comeback.

“This was fun,” Clowser said. “You play against these guys all your life. You learn how to play against them — and maybe not like them — then you get to know them, and they're great guys.”

Clowser became the first West Shamokin player to garner a game MVP award. He also contributed four rebounds and four assists.

The combined 221 points proved to be a Cager Classic record, breaking the mark set in the 2011 game. The West trailed 50-37 at halftime.

Austin Miller of Knoch and Owen Nearhoof of Mars hit four 3-pointers for the West in the wild second half.

“We just got hot at the right time,” West coach Ron McNabb of Knoch said. “Our guys couldn't hit at first, then they started making their shots and changed the complexion of the game.”

The 75 second-half points also broke the record of 66 in a half held by the 2010 East team.

West Shamokin's often deliberate offensive style precludes any Wolves player from participating in a game where 100 points are scored.

In fact, West Shamokin eclipsed the 70-point plateau just once this season.

“We had a full-run offense. You had to be in shape,” Clowser said with a laugh. “This was a very high-scoring game for us, beating a hundred. You see that in the NBA.”

The award caps a great season for Clowser, punctuated by hitting the game-winning shot in a 39-36 victory over Summit Academy on Jan. 24, the only section loss for Summit this season.

One of the side stories to the game was Ron McNabb Sr., father of the West coach, serving as one of the game officials at age 80.

The elder McNabb performed well, completing his 44th season in stripes. He even threatened his son with a technical foul after the coach questioned a couple of first-half calls.

Springdale's Matt Matisko led the West with 10 rebounds.

Garnering the MVP award for the East team was Brian Papich of Fox Chapel, who had 27 points, five rebounds, three steals and three assists.

Also performing in the game was Kittanning's Alek Schaffer, who had nine points for the East.

Dominic Schrecengost of Apollo-Ridge had eight points, followed by Ford City's Jesse Sequeira with four points and Leechburg's Ben Ritchie with two.

The West team had 19 3-point field goals.

In the girls game, Plum's Krista Pietropola scored 17 points and took MVP honors for leading the East to an 81-64 win. All four Cager Classic team MVPs will be honored at the Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame banquet May 17 at the Clarion Hotel in New Kensington.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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