LORETTO-Things did not start out as well as the Johnstown High players, coaches and fans would have liked yesterday at
DeGol Arena. However, all that mattered was how they finished, as JHS beat a scrappy Indian Valley squad 57-43 to take their
second consecutive District 6-AAA title.
The Warriors jumped out to a 7-2 lead which caused Trojan coach John Fuschino to take an early timeout with 4:19 to play
in the first quarter. Whatever he said worked as JHS quickly took back control of the game although it was not firmly in their
Johnstown led 13-9 after one but credit should be given to an Indian Valley team, that already was playing way over their
head. The Warriors entered the game with a losing record but earned their right to play for D6 gold by upsetting both Central
Cambria and Bellefonte. Both of those teams have been ranked in the honorable mention category of the statewide rankings the
Harrisburg Patriot-News compiles.
Coach Matt Shoemaker’s team took advantage of an officiating crew that was quite liberal with the whistle. Indian
Valley kept the game close and, despite the officials doing their best imitation of the Big East, “let ‘em play”
mentality, got Trojan standout Kurt Hoffman in foul trouble. Constant pounding of the ball in the paint by the Warriors saw
Hoffman get his third foul with 3:06 to go in the first half.
With Hoffman on the bench the remainder of the half, Aireon Jefferson took over scoring points on strong drives to the
basket. JHS was comfortably in the lead at the half; up 27-18.
The Trojans adjusted more at the half and totally dominated the second half. Hoffman, although double and triple teamed
most of the game managed to score 12 points and grab 13 rebounds. Derek Rose led the Trojans with 19 points while Jefferson
Indian Valley finished the 2004-05 season with an 11-16 mark. They have never won a district championship.
The Trojans improve to 23-3 and will take on the WPIAL #5 seed Elizabeth Forward. The game will be played Friday, March
4 at Central Cambria High School in Ebensburg. Tip-off is approximately 7:30 p.m.
Johnstown’s win marks a first in school history. They are the District 6-AAA champions in both football and basketball
for the same school year. In the spirit of fairness it should be pointed out that for many years such a feat would be an impossibility
as the football team competed at the WPIAL level (in both AAA and AAAA) while the basketball (and all other sports for that
matter) competed in District 6.
Not only are the Trojans back-to-back winners of the District 6-AAA crown but they have won the title three times in the
last five years. The previous two AAA titles were won by Coach Dan Shipman. Paul Litwalk won four Class AAAA titles when the
Trojans were members of the now defunct Mid Alleghenies Conference. They three-peated from 1992-94 and also send Litwalk into
retirement with a title in 1997.
Doug Keklak can be reached at