Ligonier Valley boys return to District 6 title game for another shot at Richland

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Tuesday, February 25, 2020 | 9:46 PM


HOLLIDAYSBURG — It’s back to the PIAA District 6 Class 3A championship game for the Ligonier Valley boys basketball team.

And a familiar foe will be waiting.

Ligonier Valley used a 13-0 run in the first half to take a 10-point lead en route to a 60-46 victory over Penns Valley at Hollidaysburg on Tuesday night.

For the third consecutive season, the Rams will battle Richland in what Ligonier Valley coach John Berger calls the rubber match.

Ligonier Valley won the title in 2018 and Richland in ’19. The teams square off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mt. Aloysius in Cresson. Richland defeated Westmont Hilltop in the other semifinal game Tuesday.

Ligonier Valley played without senior Jaxon Ludwig, who missed the contest with the flu. Kyle Silk, who played in every regular season game but is ineligible for the postseason because of the PIAA transfer rule, also was a spectator.

“We needed someone to step up, and Isaac (Neidbalson) and Jaicob (Hollick) stepped up,” Berger said. “Jaicob played a great game and did nothing to hurt us, which we didn’t expect him to. He played a lot bigger than a sophomore with little varsity experience.”

Neidbalson and senior Michael Marinchak scored 20 points each for Ligonier Valley, which led 30-17 at halftime and 37-19 early in the third quarter after two 3-pointers by sophomore Matthew Marinchak, who had a cold shooting night.

“I expected Matthew to heat up, and he did for a short period in the third quarter,” Berger said. “The next guy stepped up.”

After the game, Michael went to his brother and said, “No one believed we could do it.”

“We had a lot of haters this year,” Michael Marinchak said. “Our quote today was, ‘Kick adversity in the rear end.’ We had no Kyle or Jaxon, and we wanted to do it for them. We were ready to go. We just want to fight to the end.”

Neidbalson said the team’s goal was to get back to the championship game.

“That’s been our goal all season,” Neidbalson said. “We wanted to get back and get redemption. That’s what we worked for all season. He wanted to prove people wrong.”

After Caleb Narber made a 3-pointer in the first quarter to give Penns Valley a 9-6 lead, Ligonier Valley scored the next 13 points over the next 4 minutes, 35 seconds.

Ligonier Valley got a little sloppy once it took an 18-point lead, but Penns Valley never got closer than nine points and Michael Marinchak and Neidbalson closed the game with big shots in the fourth quarter.

“It drives me nuts, but that’s how we play sometime,” Berger said about his teams’ sloppy play.

Ligonier Valley turned the ball over 12 times, eight in the second half.

Narber led Penns Valley with 14 points, and Logan Snyder had 12, nine in the second half.

Another shot at Richland awaits Ligonier Valley.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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