Vaux defeats Johnsonburg for the Class A PIAA State Championship

Vaux High School defeated Johnsonburg High School for the Pennsylvania Class A Boy’s Basketball  State Championship on Friday afternoon at the Giant Center in Hershey.   The first half played out like it was following the script from the basketball movie, “Hoosiers.”  The small town team ,  Johnsonburg  (population 2,483) fell behind by over 10 points at one point in the first half to the big city team,  Vaux  from Philadelphia (population 1,526,006)  Just like in “Hoosiers” , the Johnsonburg Rams following the direction of their Coach Bill Shuey, himself a Johnsonburg alumnus, the team made slick passes, hit their outside shots,  and ignited their large crowd of followers in the arena to outscore Vaux  in the second quarter and  take  their only lead 37-36 lead on a put back at the buzzer.  The entire arena was abuzz with “what if” as the teams went to their half time locker rooms.

The Second Half

But just as the first half followed the script of a movie, the second half quickly was transformed to reality TV.  The cameras from PCN televising the event statewide back to Elk County and down to Philadelphia County showed that the superior height, quickness in the press, overall athleticism, and Division 1 recruit  6’4  Raysheed Jordan (32 points)  were too much for the gritty Rams to overcome.  They lost on the scoreboard 83-63, but they will always be winners in Elk County.  Joyce Maletto, reporting the game for  Johnsonburg’s weekly newspaper, The  Johnsonburg Press told us that all the area fire companies planned a  welcome back parade when the team would reach home.

Raysheed Jordan with numerous acrobatic dunks led Vaux with 32  while teammate Daron Johnson had 22.  Trayvond Massenburg, at 6’8 led all rebounders in the game with 8 total boards and 4 blocked shots.

Cameron Grumley (17) and Cole Peterson (11), both juniors and Frank Kocjancic (11) a senior led the Johnsonburg scoring.

The Johnsonburg Rams (District 9 top seed) entered the game at 30-2 to face the Robert Vaux Cougars  23-8  (District 12 top seed).  Vaux, a school located in Philadelphia is slated to close at the end of the school year.  Coming into the tournament,  Raysheed Jordan  scored 45 points in the Philadelphia Public League Championship game as his team won 67-66. His scoring effort in the title game broke the old record held by Wilt Chamberlain.

At a time in Elk County sports history when the communities of  Johnsonburg and Ridgway will both  surrender some of their sports identities to co ops, the two schools represented themselves wearing their own colors and sporting their own uniforms deep into the state basketball playoffs.   Ridgway went into the second round losing to Academy Park from Midland, but then Johnsonburg pulled the “David vs  Goliath” win over Academy Park in the semi-finals with a 59-53 win to reach the finals.

Former Johnsonburg basketball player, Phil Popelski  at the game, now a coach in Maryland,  reminded us that the Johnsonburg boys had gone to the state quarterfinals in 1983 losing to Rochester, and again in 1985 in the quarterfinals losing to Cornell.  Then in 1978 and 1979, Johnsonburg’s former  legendary coach Bill Fulton, also a school alumnus took the Johnsonburg girl’s team to the state finals twice .  Both times they finished second.  So on Friday the Johnsonburg Rams add another State Championship runner-up trophy to the trophy case.  But everyone who knows basketball will tell you, it’s no easy feat to reach the state championship finals.  The Johnsonburg players, Coach Bill Shuey, the fans, the community, and Elk County can all be proud!

The History of PIAA State Championship Games

Boy’s Basketball
First state game: 1920 HARRISBURG TECH, BELLEVUE 38-34
First boy’s A game: 1951 FREDONIA (10) MT. JOY (3) 49-43
First boy’s AA game: 1945 McADOO (11) CONNEAUTVILLE (10 )52-28
First boy’s AAA game: 1920 HARRISBURG TECH, BELLEVUE  38-34
First boy’s AAAA game: 1984 WILLIAMSPORT (4) CATHEDRAL PREP (10 ) 68-61

Girl’s Basketball
First state game: 1973 Allentown Central Catholic (11) Sharpaville (10) 65-38
First girl’s A Game: 1978 Pottsville Nativity (11 ) Johnsonburg (9 ) 46-41
First girl’s AA Game: 1976, 1976 Darby Colwyn (1) Union (9) 50-38
First girl’s AAA: 1973, Allentown Central Catholic (11) Sharpaville (10) 65-38
First girl’s AAAA:  1984,  Seton LaSalle (7) Strath Haven (1)  55-53


upper left- Frank Kocjancic (#21) sticks back a missed foul shot to give the Rams the 37-36 lead.
upper right- Quinn Luhr (#10) at 6'1 blocks out Trayvond Massenburg (Vaux) at 6'8"; Cameron Grumley (#3) defends against Samuel  Foreman (Vaux).

left-Mitch Holmberg (#15)  and Frank Kocjancic  (#21) battle Daron Johnson (Vaux)

bottom left- Cole Peterson (#12) and Johnsonburg's leading scorer for the season had 11 points before fouling out.
bottom right Two Rams battle against four Vaux players on the boards.


Cameron Grumley looks to pass inside over Daron Johnson from Vaux
Johnsonburg - 30-3
player      points minutes played

Grumley       17         26
Luhr              8          32
Peterson      11          26
Holmberg      8          21
Kocjancic    11          31
Sheldon        8          17
Hefright        0            1


Vaux -24-8

Raysheed Jordan, the Divison 1 recruit from Vaux played 31 minutes and scored 32 points.  Daron Johnson played 30 minutes and scored 22 for the winners.




More game photos will be posted on our Facebook page at  soon and all are available for purchase from the photographer Danette Bartholomew at


Find all of Pennsylvania’s Basketball  history  at  and find photos from the state playoffs on our facebook page at

Bill Gaffey reporting for