Pressure Defense Keys Golden Tide\’s 74-35 Win Over Elkers

CURWENSVILLE – When a team executes a game plan the way the Curwensville Area High School cagers did against Ridgway Wednesday night in Patton Hall, the result usually makes for a happy coaching staff.
The Golden Tide blanketed the Elkers with a suffocating, trapping press that produced 14 steals and many easy points in a 74-35 Allegheny Mountain League South Division victory.
Ridgway wound up with 28 turnovers, a number that could have been considerably higher had Curwensville coach Matt Wassil not switched to a half-court defense in the third quarter.
\”Our game plan coming in was to play fast and keep the tempo high throughout the game,\” Wassil said after the Golden Tide made it two wins in a row for the first time this season.
\”We thought our pressure could be a key, and we wanted to make sure we had some defensive intensity. Our kids did a great job of getting into the passing lanes and getting steals. And when you can get steals, those usually convert to layups as opposed to bad passes that go out of bounds. So, that was big for us.\”
Curwensville never trailed but led only 5-4 after three minutes. Then, the press began to take its toll, and the Golden Tide reeled off 11 points, all from point-blank range, in the next 58 seconds. Joey Palmer had three field goals, Sam Gardner one and Derek Dixon one that he turned into a conventional three-point play.
Turnovers and missed shots by both teams slowed the scoring pace in the final four minutes of the first quarter, which ended with the hosts on top 19-10.
In the second quarter, David Kalgren netted nine points as the Golden Tide gradually pulled away to a 38-21 lead.
A trio of baskets by Dixon and pairs by Palmer and Ben McGary boosted Curwensville\’s lead to 52-23 just 3:43 into the second half, and Wassil began calling on his reserves.
Gardner and Jed Greslick made it an 18-2 run and a 56-23 bulge with 2:15 remaining in the third period. The Golden Tide posted 27 points in the quarter on 13-for-23 shooting.
Four Curwensville players hit double figures, topped by Dixon\’s game-high 16. Palmer had 11 while Kalgren and Gardner chipped in 10 apiece.
\”I thought our entire team played well,\” Wassil said. \”This probably is our best effort as far as a complete game. Every guy who stepped on the floor did something positive for us. Almost every guy scored. We also got some nice defense and even some good passing out of all those guys.
\”That\’s a tribute to them stepping on to the floor and being ready to play, no matter what the situation was. They knew it was their opportunity to play and they played hard. We\’re proud of them for that.\” 
Curwensville, which had 12 turnovers, connected on 33 of 78 shots for 42.3 percent and outrebounded Ridgway 36-24.
Nick Dickant scored 13 points and Max Oknefski added 10 for the Elkers, who suffered their seventh consecutive loss and fell to 1-12.
The Golden Tide will take a 5-7 record to Sheffield (4-9) for another Allegheny Mountain League Friday.
\”It would be a really positive thing for us to string some wins together,\” Wassil said. \”We don\’t want to look too far ahead, but we know coming up at the end of the year we have a really tough stretch. We play some teams in a row that all have winning records.\”
The junior varsity game also resulted in a one-sided win, 61-22, for Curwensville. Greslick had 15 points, Jesse Hoover 13 and Ben Johnson 10 for coach Shane Pentz\’s Golden Tide.
South Division – DuBois Central Catholic 4-0, Curwensville 2-3, Brockway 1-3, Ridgway 0-5.
North Division – Elk County Catholic 7-0, Kane 2-1, Sheffield 1-3, Johnsonburg 0-2.
Hudson Rees 2 0-1 4, Nick Dickant 4 5-10 13, Nate Maddalena 0 2-2 2, Max Oknefski 5 0-1 10, Kevin Marnatti 1 0-0 2, Vinnie Borrello 0 0-0 0, Andy Hribik 0 0-0 0, Beau Bellotti 0 0-0 0, Derek Gaffey 1 0-0 3, Dillon Reed 0 1-2 1.  TOTALS 13 8-16 35.
Ryan Gardner 1 0-0 2, Ben McGary 3 0-0 6, David Kalgren 4 2-4 10, Joey Palmer 5 1-2 11, Derek Dixon 7 2-3 16, Sam Gardner 4 2-4 10, Jed Greslick 3 0-0 6, Tyler Johns 0 0-0 0, Heath McCracken 0 0-0 0, Ben Johnson 1 0-0 2, Nick Opaliski 1 0-0 3, Jesse Hoover 3 0-0 6, Billy White 1 0-0 2.  TOTALS: 33 7-13 74.
Three-Point Field Goals: Ridgway 1 (Gaffey); Curwensville 1 (Opaliski).
Score by Quarters
Ridgway           10  11    8  6  –  35
Curwensville      19  19  27  9  –  74
Officials: Bill Overly, Sam Bevak.
Sheffield Lady Wolverines Top Lady Tide 46-29
Bison Matmen Throttle Beavers 42-23

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