Claar earns first-team recognition | News, Sports, Jobs


By Michel Boytim

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A year after making the second team, Portage eldest Kaden Claar was selected to the first team of the Pennsylvania Sportswriters All-State Boys Basketball Team in Class 2A.

“Kaden’s competitiveness and work ethic have helped our team lead our team to the success we have had over the past two years,” said Portage coach Travis Kargo. “With that comes individual distinctions such as all states. He put in the time and effort, and I think he really deserved it. He had a great season, and it was the culmination of one hell of a basketball career for Portage, not just individually, but as a team.

Claar, who will continue his basketball career at Juniata, led the Mustangs to back-to-back District 6 championships — the first two in school history. Portage reached the PIAA Semifinals in 2021 and the PIAA Quarterfinals last season.

“I knew that after having a great season last season, I wanted to build on it for my final year,” Claire said. “Right after our loss I was allowed to work all spring, summer and even during football season, I was in the gym every day, trying to improve and improve myself for this season. It all paid off.”

Claar, an Altoona Mirror first-team star in football and basketball, scored his 1,000th career point this season in a comeback victory over Berlin Brothersvalley and helped the Mustangs win the WestPAC title in of their final year in the conference.

Claar is Kargo’s nephew and was also coached by him at the AAU in the offseason.

“It’s nice to see people rewarded for their dedication and hard work, and Kaden is an example of that.” Kargo said. “He is dedicated not only to basketball but to our program as a whole. After the last game when I hugged him I told him it would be weird next year after coaching him from kindergarten to end, not only in school basketball, but also in travel basketball, baseball and youth football.He is a big part of my life, and I had the chance to coach great players who have brought attention to our program, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.

Claar was joined in the first team by unanimous 2A Player of the Year Jake DiMichele of Notre Dame du Sacre Coeur, Jacob Beccles of Constitution, Elijah Harden of Kennedy Catholic, Jackson Juzang of Winchester Thurston and Ross Eyer of Muncy.

OLSH Coach Mike Rodriguez was named 2A Coach of the Year.

“It means a lot,” Claire said. “It’s a prestigious award and something I’ve worked for for a long time. It was on my list of goals for this year, and I’m just grateful and blessed to have achieved this goal.

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