CURWENSVILLE — After one quarter of Tuesday night‘s Allegheny Mountain League South Division schoolboy basketball opener, the question wasn‘t whether Brockway could maintain its torrid shooting but if, and when, Curwensville could get its offense out of low gear.
Shooting like they were comfortably in their own gym, the Rovers blistered the Patton Hall nets for nine field goals in 13 attempts, 69.2 percent, to build a 21-8 lead. Included were three of six flings from behind the arc.
In contrast, the Golden Tide saw only three of 20 shots fall.
The complexion of the game started to change in the second period as the Golden Tide, spurred by Brett Gardner’s career-high 30-point effort, rallied to gradually run down the Rovers in a 54-51 thriller for a rare 2-0 start by the Gold and Black.
“They came out very hot, and we told our guys just stick with our defense,” Curwensville coach Shane Pentz said. “Luckily for us, they cooled down.”
“Our defense was much better after the first quarter. It was all about finding their shooters and not giving them multiple chances at the basket.”
Brockway still wound up with a 40.4 shooting percentage, but Curwensville overcame that by firing up 72 shots, making just enough to compensate for a 26.2 percentage and prevail one night after knocking off backyard rival Clearfield 56-38.
“Last year, after we played Clearfield, we really had a hard time getting into any kind of rhythm the next night,” Pentz said. “Tonight, it took us a quarter, and we were like, ‘Oh, we’ve got to play again!’
“The game turned 16 points after the first quarter. Actually, in the middle of the fourth quarter, we had flipped the game 23 points in our favor.”
Junior Trey Rauckhorst helped make that happen with his second double-double, 13 points and 10 rebounds.
He converted two of Tanner Elensky’s several assists and added a turnaround jumper in the lane to team with Gardner for all of the Golden Tide’s points in the third quarter when the hosts drew within two points, 33-31, after trailing 27-17 at intermission.
Gardner was just heating up, though, sinking a pair of patented three-pointer jumpers to go with a fast-break layup.
After Rauckhorst knotted the score with a pretty jump hook, the senior guard cashed one of his five steals with a reverse lay-up to put the Golden Tide in front for the first time since midway through the first period and ignite a 13-1 run that made it 44-34 with 4:46 left.
Later, Gardner really put on a show.
He swished four consecutive three-point shots, one from outside, two from the left corner and one from the right wing that gave Curwensville a 50-40 lead with 2:31 remaining.
“He got unbelievable hot for about a two-minute stretch,” Pentz said. “If he had any space, it was going in. He was getting good looks, and he was knocking them down.”
The reeling Rovers, who had struggled through the middle periods at 4-for-22 and faltered at the start of the final period with four misses and five turnovers, wouldn’t go away, though.
Sharp-shooter Cody Jose and Brett Carr matched Gardner’s last two treys and when Dausen Crawford scored inside on back-to-back possessions, the Rovers had trimmed their deficit to 50-47 with 1:38 to play.
Kyle Johns found Rauckhorst open under the hoop to make it a two-possession game going to the final minute, and Elensky’s two free throws with 16.9 seconds on the clock appeared to clinch it at 54-48.
However, Crawford fed Andrew Serafini for a peep eight seconds later and the Rovers got a realistic chance to force overtime in the final three seconds.
Fouled in a scramble under the basket, Jose made his first foul shot and deliberately missed the second to set up a possible three-point try. That materialized when he spotted up on the left side and a Rover got the ball to him, but his desperation attempt on a pretty good look was off-target.
“Jonathan (Miller) challenged him,” Pentz said. “That’s why we put him in, to get more length. If that’s Jake Terry, that’s an open three.”
Jose paced the 1-2 Rovers with 16 points, including four of their eight three-pointers, while Andrew Serafini was right behind with 14 points.
Turnovers were important as Curwensville had only 13 while creating 28 with its harassing defense.
The Golden Tide had a 33-30 advantage in rebounds.
“I can’t say enough about the job Alex Olson, Austin Jacobson and Johns did on the boards,” Pentz said. “We’re gonna win most of the games that we win the rebounding battle. We were on the other end of that a lot of games in the past, and we’re starting to turn that around.”
Just like the Golden Tide is doing in closing games.
“That’s the kind of game we’ve lost in the past,” Pentz pointed out.
The Golden Tide jayvees also rallied in the second half to eke out a 38-37 victory. Harrison Bloom was high with nine points.
Curwensville heads north on Friday for another AML-South game at Ridgway.
BROCKWAY — 51
Brandon Morris 0 0-0 0, Andrew Serafini 6 1-1 14, Cody Jose 5 2-4 16, Brett Carr 2 1-2 6, Quade Lundberg 2 0-3 4, Dausen Crawford 2 1-2 5, Jake Wineberg 2 0-0 6, Jared Rogos 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 19 5-12 51.
CURWENSVILLE — 54
Brett Gardner 10 4-4 30, Tanner Elensky 1 4-6 6, Trey Rauckhorst 6 1-2 13, Alex Olson 1 0-0 2, Kyle Johns 1 0-0 2, Austin Jacobson 0 0-0 0, Harrison Bloom 0 1-2 1, Jake Terry 0 0-0 0, Nate Kurtz 0 0-0 0, Jonathan Miller 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 19 10-14 54.
Three-Point Field Goals – Brockway 8 (Serafini, Jose 4, Carr, Wineberg 2); Curwensville 6 (Gardner).
Score by Quarters
Brockway 21 6 6 18 - 51
Curwensville 8 9 14 23 - 54
Officials – Bill Worley and Rob Murphy.
Golden Tide Scoreboard:
|12/06||MO VALLEY||ppd.||0 – 0|
|12/09||@ Clearfield||56 – 38||1 – 0|
|12/10||BROCKWAY||54 – 51||2 – 0|
|01/08||@ Mo Valley|
|01/14||@ Elk County|
|01/27||@ DuBois Central|
|02/05||ST. JOE’S ACADEMY|
|02/12||@ West Branch|