CURWENSVILLE — A harassing man-for-man defense enabled the Curwensville Area High School girls basketball team to run the floor for easy baskets throughout its Moshannon Valley League scrap with Moshannon Valley in Patton Hall Monday night.
The result was a convincing 52-16 victory, the Lady Tide’s first in a season opener since a 42-39 squeaker over Mo Valley on Dec. 4, 2006.
Sophomore Ciara Strickland tossed in 20 points and senior Becca Johnson chipped in with 15 points on the payoff end of at least a dozen of Curwensville’s numerous fast breaks.
And they teamed with Heather Thorp on the perimeter of the Lady Tide defense to make it a long night for the Damsel guards.
“Those three did a great job out front, keeping them from penetrating,” Curwensville coach Rusty McCracken said. “Basically, we play it loose so we can help out where we can.
“They wanted that lane down the middle, and we just didn’t go out on the wings. When they did (penetrate), we got a few fouls down low because we didn’t shut it off, but, luckily, that didn’t hurt us.”
McCracken conceded the youthful Damsels (0-3) were at a decided disadvantage with two sophomores and two freshmen in the starting lineup with their lone letterwinner, senior Tayia Swoope.
“We’ve been there, and it’s a tough learning curve for them right now,” he said. “They’re gonna give us a better game the next time we see them.”
Not on this night, though, for the Lady Tide’s experience and depth were evident.
After Katrina Seaburn fed Tiffany Carter for a peep that knotted the score at 2-2, Curwensville took command via a trio of fast breaks in less than a minute. Johnson laid in two of the deuces around one by Strickland, whose putback late in the period gave the Lady Tide a 12-4 lead at the first rest stop.
“We’d like to be able to put pressure on the ball and hopefully get those steals and get the ball down court,” McCracken said.
Points were at a premium for most of the second quarter, but the Lady Tide was able to widen the spread to 22-8 by intermission.
The Damsels’ offense stagnated in the first half because of 20 turnovers.
“We have some quickness this year that we can stay after people,” McCracken said. “As long as we don’t back down, I think we’re gonna give people trouble.”
Curwensville outscored Mo Valley 17-0 in the third quarter for a 21-point run as steals and defensive rebounds led to more easy baskets, with assists by different players on four of the six shots from point-blank range.
“We’re passing better than we’ve ever been since I’ve been here,” McCracken said. “The girls were seeing each other well on the outlets and looking for each other on the long pass. They were unselfish and giving the ball up.”
Strickland had eight points in the third period and added two more buckets in the fourth period, when Johnson got into double figures with seven points.
“(Ciara) did the things she had to do,” McCracken said. “She cleared, got some tips, got some steals and finished at the other end. She did a great job offensively and defensively.
“We want Becca and Seaburn to step up, although Seaburn didn’t get a whole lot of chances because we were shooting so many lay-ups. But she was rebounding and started a few breaks.”
Seaburn grabbed seven of Curwensville’s 30 rebounds.
Emily Kolesar pulled in a game-high nine rebounds for Mo Valley, which totaled 32.
However, the Damsels had almost as many turnovers, 29, and shot only 12.8 percent (6-for-47).
The Lady Tide was 25-for-61 for 41 percent, undoubtedly a new standard under McCracken, who is in his fourth season.
In the prelim, the Moshannon Valley jayvees eked out a 28-27 win with Ally Kronenwetter scoring seven points. Curwensville got nine points from Abby Dugo and eight each from Shauna Guy and Kayli Sedgwick.
The Lady Tide turns its attention to the Allegheny Mountain League South Division for games Tuesday at home against Brockway and Friday at Ridgway.
MOSHANNON VALLEY — 16
Tayia Swoope 1 1-8 3, Emily Smith 1 2-2 4, Haley Stodart 2 0-0 4, Emily Kolesar 2 0-1 4, Hannah Kitko 0 1-3 1, Samantha Matchock 0 0-0 0, Kelsey Kitko 0 0-1 0, Ally Kronenwetter 0 0-0 0 . TOTALS: 6 4-15 16.
CURWENSVILLE — 52
Heather Thorp 1 0-0 2, Becca Johnson 7 1-2 15, Ciara Strickland 10 0-0 20, Katrina Seaburn 2 0-0 4, Tiffany Carter 1 1-2 3, Tierra Shope 0 0-2 0, Abby Dugo 2 0-0 4, Kealy Wassil 1 0-0 2, Shauna Guy 0 0-0 0, Bailey Dale 1 0-0 2, Haley McGarry 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 25 2-6 52.
Score by Quarters
Moshannon Valley 4 4 0 8 – 16
Curwensville 12 10 17 13 – 52
Officials – Bill Overly and Rob Murphy.