Will Opsahl will follow family tradition of playing men's college basketball

Central Cambria graduate Danchanko contributes in St. Francis’ record performance

Nov. 24—LORETTO — As a walk-on freshman playing Division I men’s college basketball, the chances for Ebensburg’s Daric Danchanko to play, let alone score, are limited, so he could have kicked himself when he made a beautiful spin move with 90 seconds left only to get the shot blocked when he didn’t go up with authority.

“I whiffed on it,” Danchanko said sheepishly. “As soon as I did, I was like, ‘I should have dunked that.’ You just have to have that next-play attitude.”

Danchanko made the most of another chance, scoring his first college bucket after rebounding his own missed three throw.

Danchanko was one of 15 St. Francis players to score as the Red Flash made history by establishing a new Stokes Building team record for points in a game in Wednesday night’s 120-53 win against Division III member Franciscan at DeGol Arena.

Josh Cohen followed up his 40-point game on Monday against Lehigh with 19 rebounds, five rebounds and five assists for the Red Flash, shooting 6-for-9 from the floor. Max Land went 4 of 6 from 3 to contribute 16 points and Marlon Hargis netted 14. Luke Ruggery and Brad McCabe each scored 11 off the bench.

Danchanko got in for the final 3:55 and wound up with three points and three rebounds.

“I’ll never forget it, my first college bucket,” said Danchanko, the Central Cambria High School product. “I’ve very thankful to be around a great group of guys, a great staff, in just an amazing environment. Just to be able to play is a blessing.”

The 120 points was the fourth-most in program history, even surpassing the 115 the Keith Braxton and Isaiah Blackmon-led Red Flash scored against the Barons in 2019. The last time St. Francis scored more was when it hung 122 on New Hampshire in 1971.

St. Francis had 81 points when Red Flash coach Rob Krimmel pulled his starters with 15:05 left in the game. Ruggery’s 3 from the top of the key put the Red Flash over the century mark with 101 with 8:10 remaining.

“It was great to see the way the guys played,” Krimmel said. “Everybody scored and I thought they did it in a way that was productive. It wasn’t one-on-one ‘me’ basketball. They did a good job of executing.”

Land came out to shoot free throws well after the final buzzer in Monday’s loss, the Red Flash’s third in a row that dropped them at 1-4. He said it wasn’t out of frustration or exasperation, but just a need to get his stroke back down. The junior wing was 6-for-9 from the field like Cohen and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.

“It was a great experience tonight,” Land said. “We got everybody in there to score. Everybody was playing. Everybody was involved. It was just a good collective effort.”

Prize frontcourt recruit Miles Webb — who’s been injured — got his first action of the year for the Red Flash. He scored his first bucket for the Red Flash on a driving hook with 4:41 left.

Bishop Carroll Catholic product Tristan McDannell was in the starting lineup for Franciscan (0-4). The 6-foot junior guard from Claysburg scored seven points. Only Travis Lien, with 15 points, reached double digits for the Barons.

McDannell had a contingent of fans led by his high school coach, Cosie Aliquo, positioned behind the Barons’ bench.

“It was a pretty cool experience,” McDannell said. “I’ve been away from home for a couple of years now, so it’s always nice to come back home. We definitely see a lot of talent (in our conference play) in the season, but these (St. Francis) kids are just big. You play big dudes, but when they move like that, it’s different.”

It would be easy to envision Danchanko playing against or next to McDannell — 6-8 guys are at a premium in Division III — but Danchanko decided to take a different path and stay close to home at St. Francis.

“During my visit, Coach Krim said he wanted all of us to come out better people,” Danchanko said. “That just struck me. I liked that.”

St. Francis never trailed after opening the scoring with a four-point play a minute in — Land drove for a layup and was crowded, and, though he didn’t make the subsequent free through, Hargis was there to follow up. The Red Flash had a 15-point lead when Yann Yonkeu’s putback got Franciscan on the board at the 14:58 mark.

By halftime, Cohen, Land and Hargis all were in double figures and St. Francis had built a 64-28 advantage. It was the most points St. Francis had at halftime in a game in almost exactly eight years.

Cohen topped all scorers with 14, and St. Francis was 8-for-15 from 3-point range.

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