Golden Tide To Host High-Flying Cardinals in Gant Feature Game

CURWENSVILLE — What was going to be a tough week for the Curwensville Area High School boys basketball team started out on a sour note Monday night with an emotionally-draining 52-50 loss to Harmony, and it certainly won\’t get any easier Wednesday night when Allegheny Mountain League South Division champion DuBois Central Catholic rolls into Patton Hall for the GantDaily Feature Game of the Week.

The 19-1 Cardinals are riding a 14-game winning streak highlighted by Friday\’s 69-68 thriller over 2006 PIAA Class A champion Elk County Catholic that was the host Crusaders\’ first loss in 50 games. Also snapped were ECC streaks of 48 wins against District 9 opponents and 36 victories over Allegheny Mountain League foes.

Meantime, the 10-7 Golden Tide will be trying to recover from its third consecutive loss, a heartbreaker in which the Gold and Black took the lead early in the first quarter and never trailed until the final minute, when two foul shots gave undefeated Harmony its 20th win and the Moshannon Valley League championship.

\”It\’s going to be a challenge, obviously,\” Matt Wassil said as he looked forward and backward minutes after perhaps the most frustrating game in his brief career as Curwensville head coach. \”We have to figure out how to get our kids back on track and forget about this game, as tough of a loss as it was, because if we don\’t, we\’re in for a long night Wednesday. There\’s no second guessing how good DuBois Central is. Had they even not beaten Elk County, we know how good of a team they are. Beating Elk County gives them just that much more confidence.\”

DCC, losing only at Johnsonburg 65-63 on Dec. 13, vaulted past ECC (16-1) and Keystone (15-1) to the top of the D9Sports.com\’s District 9 Class A and overall rankings with its last-minute win over the Crusaders, but Wassil is not counting on the Cardinals being overconfident. Their record shows no letdowns. Only four of their victims, including ECC, have stayed within eight points. They\’ve scored more than 70 points in a dozen games and reached the 60s four other times. One of the four games they didn\’t get out of the 50s was their 59-41 victory over Curwensville on Jan. 3.

The trio of 6-1 senior Cody Wilson (248 points, 13.1 average), 5-9 junior Dom Varacallo (245, 12.9), and 6-3 senior Chris Wulderk (221, 12.3) front a balanced offense that is averaging 70.6 points a game. Not far behind are 5-9 junior playmaker Christian Spilman (176, 9-3), 6-1 senior Eric Johnson (165, 8.7) and 6-4 senior reserve Andrew Welch (149, 8.3). Wulderk played at Moshannon Valley last season, while Spilman played grade school ball at Clearfield St. Francis before transferring.

\”They\’re solid all the way through, and they\’ve got guys they can bring off the bench,\” Wassil said. \”The thing I see that makes them dangerous, for me as a coach, is all five of their starters can handle the ball decently. They really don\’t have a guy who can\’t put the ball on the floor and go by you, which makes it difficult, because very few teams have that ability. Most teams have one or two guys who stay primarily in the post, and they don\’t have to do that. Johnson and Wulderk both can move away from the basket, and that can present a problem at times.

\”The big problem with them is you can\’t game plan to stop one guy. You have to be prepared for a total team defensive effort. One of their advantages is, as good a team that they have, they can exploit mismatches. Also, their transition is excellent. Spilman\’s a great point guard. He gets them going. If we don\’t play transition defense, they\’ll score layups all night. So, we\’ve gotta really work (Tuesday) on transition defense.

\”And we\’ve also got to work on getting some other people involved. Last time we played them, Philip Michaels did a real good job of getting us going offensively, but we really didn\’t have anyone else involved. We\’re gonna have to make sure we get other guys to contribute offensively.

\”We played them pretty strong for one half. We\’ve got to see if we can do that for a full game now.\”

Harmony and DCC have similar offenses in that both teams like to run in transition and continue to attack the basket once they set up in the halfcourt, but Wassil says there are differences.

\”I think DuBois Central is a little bit more fluent offensively,\” he explained. \”They’re a little bit more patient. I’m not saying they slow it down, cause they don’t try to slow it down. They’re more of a screening team, and Harmony’s more of a cutting team.\”

Led by Michaels (229, 13.5) and Craig Bartlett (178, 10.5), Curwensville is averaging 59.5 points a game. Shawn Sopic (137, 8.1), Brandon McDonald (130, 7.6) and Ben McGary (60, 3.5) are the other starters. The top reserves are Joey Palmer (117, 6.9) and David Kalgren (75, 4.4).

The jayvees will tip off at six o\’clock, with the varsity game to follow at approximately 7:30.

ECC Boys Rebound From First Loss with Win Over Clearfield 63-43
Gant Feature Game for 1/29 to 2/4

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