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Boys Basketball: Pine-Richland has best season in school history

Written by Brad Everett on .

Pine-Richland reached the WPIAL final in 2000 and won its first championship in 2016.

But it's the 2017 version of the Rams that became the most successful in school history.

Pine-Richland closed out its outstanding season Saturday with just its second loss, 64-40 to Reading in the PIAA Class 6A final in front of a large crowd of 9,531 at Giant Center in Hershey.

While the ending wasn't what the Rams had hoped for, the season was a huge success. The Post-Gazette's No. 1-ranked team in the preseason remained there throughout. They repeated as WPIAL champions, reached the PIAA final for the first time and finished with a 28-2 record. No team in program history won as many games.

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Boys Basketball: Pine-Richland edged by Reading in PIAA 6A final

Written by Mike White on .

Mike White covered Saturday's PIAA Class 6A championship between Pine-Richland and Reading.

2017 0326 PineRichland BBasketball(Photo: Pine-Richland teammates walk off the floor as Reading celebrates their win in the PIAA Class 6A championship Saturday at the Giant Center in Hershey. Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)

"HERSHEY, Pa. — Thousands of fans from the town of Reading turned out Saturday night in Hershey to help make one of the largest crowds at a PIAA basketball championship game in decades. They turned Giant Center into a red sea, watching their Reading High School Red Knights play in a title game for the first time in 44 years.

Pine-Richland certainly didn't get swallowed up in the red sea, but the Rams were still overcome by Reading's tide.

Pine-Richland, a WPIAL champion, turned in a valiant effort, but couldn't stop those thousands of Reading fans from going home happy. The Red Knights defeated Pine-Richland, 64-60, to win the Class 6A title before a capacity crowd of 9,531.

The win gave Reading (30-3) its first state title in 83 years and kept Pine-Richland from becoming only the fifth WPIAL team since 1980 to win a PIAA title in the largest classification. The Rams trailed, 54-52, with three minutes left in the game, but Reading pulled away down the stretch. When Reading star Lonnie Walker threw down a thunderous dunk with 1:20 left to put the Red Knights ahead by seven, the roar from the Reading fans shook the arena."

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Boys Basketball: 2017 PIAA Class 6A Championship Preview - Pine-Richland vs. Reading

Written by Brad Everett on .

The game: PIAA Class 6A championship
The teams: Pine-Richland vs. Reading
Where and when: Giant Center, Hershey, Saturday, 8 p.m.

Pine-Richland Rams
Record: 28-1
District finish: WPIAL champion
Coach: Jeff Ackermann
PIAA titles: 0
Last time in the final: First appearance
How they got here: (First round) Latrobe, 83-82; (Second round) Allderdice, 58-47; (Quarterfinals) Butler, 64-58; (Semifinals) Carlisle, 65-60.
Scoring offense: 73.0 points per game
Scoring defense: 56.7 points per game
Probable starters: Andrew Kristofic, F, 6-6, So.; Phil Jurkovec, G, 6-5, Jr.; Nolan Rausch, G, 6-0, Sr.; Evan Luellen, G, 6-0, Sr.; Andrew Petcash, G, 6-4, Sr.
What you should know: Pine-Richland is very good and has been ranked No. 1 by the Post-Gazette all season, but many believed a trip to Hershey might be out of the question because few WPIAL teams in the largest class make it that far and the Rams would need to go through a team from the east to get there. But Pine-Richland has silenced any doubters by following up its second straight WPIAL title with an outstanding PIAA run that has the Rams in the title game for the first time. They can now join Penn Hills (2004) and New Castle (2014) as the only WPIAL teams to win a PIAA title in the largest class since Ringgold did it in 1995. The Rams have a terrific "Big 3" in Andrew Petcash, Phil Jurkovec and Andrew Kristofic, and the team's role players have come up with key shots on many occasions. Kristofic scored 16 points in the semifinal win against Carlisle and is the second-leading scorer in school history with better than 1,500 points.
Player to watch: Phil Jurkovec. The junior is second on the team in scoring with 16 points per game, but his biggest role in this game will be defending Reading star Lonnie Walker, who is regarded as one of the best players in the country. Jurkovec is an outstanding athlete who has committed to play football at Notre Dame. He scored a team-best 19 points against Carlisle.

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Photo Journal: Boys Basketball PIAA First Round - Pine-Richland 83, Latrobe 82 (March 11)

Written by Marilyn Schwilm on .

Latrobe and Pine-Richland meet again in the first round of the PIAA Playoffs, Saturday, March 11 at Baldwin High School.  The game was a true crowd pleaser, down to the wire.  Pine-Richland prevailed winning 83-82 to move on to face Allderdice in the second round.

click here to see video highlights of the game

Photos by Marilyn C. Schwilm, Tri-State Sports & News Service

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Boys Basketball: Pine-Richland sophomore makes major impact for WPIAL champs

Written by Brian Batko on .

Brian Batko profiles Pine-Richland sophomore Andrew Kristofic.

"Even after winning back-to-back championships in the WPIAL's largest classification, a two-year run spearheaded by senior guard and leading scorer Andrew Petcash, the future still looks bright for Pine-Richland boys basketball.

Andrew Kristofic is literally the largest reason why.

"Coach, we've still got two more years," Pine-Richland's 6-foot-6 sophomore told Jeff Ackermann as he draped a gold medal around his center's neck for the second year in a row.

Kristofic — aka "AK" — figures to be a big deal in the WPIAL for a couple more seasons. Then again, you could say he already is."