HYDE — It was a few weeks ago that the Lady Chucks of Punxsutawney faced the Lady Bison of Clearfield on their home court. In that game, Clearfield took a thumping on the hardwood, and actually ended the game with a running clock due to the mercy rule.
Fast forward to the first Friday of January and these two squads were back on the court, this time at the Arthur J. Weiss Gymnasium in Clearfield. It was unclear if a similar game would ensue, but both teams appeared ready to hit the court with intense action.
Intense is what the crowd got to witness, as the Lady Chucks kept the pressure on from the opening tip to the final horn, playing the man-to-man defense for the entire 32 minutes. Yet, Clearfield would make a game of it at many times. Despite getting down early, they would battle back on numerous occasions. However, the press seemed to get the better of the home team as the entire squad seemed to be running on empty. At the end of the game, despite a final flurry of baskets, it was Punxsutawney that would be on the winning end of a 63-39 final.
Yet, even in a loss, head coach Joey Castagnolo was extremely pleased by how his girls performed.
“I was real proud of them tonight. Punxsy played an unbelievable press on us, and we didn’t back down tonight. Up there, we got Mercy Ruled, and I wasn’t very happy then. Tonight, I’m happy. I saw glimpses of brilliancy,” Castagnolo said. “We played excellent defense there, got them fired up. But I think the heat got to us tonight, and we’re not used to that. Just concerned about that, hope it’s just the heat and no one is coming down with sickness. It’s uncharacteristic of us.”
The game started out very timid for the Bison, as they would get down in double digits early, but make it just a nine-point difference entering the second quarter.
At that point, Clearfield began their own little run, shrinking the lead down to just two points at times, and was looking to get closer. But, they couldn’t seem to put a solid run together, and Punxsutawney then took advantage. Clearfield would have trouble handling the ball with the press defense, committing 29 turnovers on the night. At the same time, the Lady Chucks seemed to be having a field day with their squad, as all but three players that saw time in the game would score.
Leading everyone in scoring was Nicole Dipietro of the Lady Chucks, draining 15 points including three from behind the arc. Also hitting double digits for Punxsutawney were Emily Horner and Jensen Constantino, each with 11 points, and Taylor Newcome with 10.
Only Emily Aveni would hit double digits in scoring for Clearfield, draining 10 points.
“They have a whole gang of shooters, and we have a couple. That was the big difference. It’s kind of tough to come down, miss a shot, then they go down and score, have a turnover, then they go down and score again because they didn’t miss,” Castagnolo said. “We did have shooters tonight by going to the hoop, and getting to the foul line…we’ve been a horrendous foul-shooting team, but tonight we were 11 for 17, and I applaud them for that.
“I’ve been tough on them this week, as I don’t think we’re playing up to our capacity. Tonight, that was just a better team. I thought we played well.”
The pressure that the Lady Chucks put on all night was evident, as Clearfield was not used to seeing many press defenses all year, mainly just the zone. But the last couple of games they have witnessed a more up-tempo game and have been pressured to perform. Early in the year, Punxsutawney dominated the first contest, 66-24, and forced a running clock. Knowing that, Castagnolo wanted to make sure his team was prepared.
“I just told them ‘Girls, you know in this game they’re gonna hit you. But, if we’re in it after the first quarter, it’s going to be a game. They just didn’t miss,” Castagnolo said. “I was surprised that Curwensville played us man, and a full game of it. Now, we’re starting to play man again. We had turnovers, but we’ll have them against teams that have that kind of tempo and pressure.”
The second half was more of the same, as it appeared going into the fourth quarter the Lady Bison began running on fumes, and started going flat. Despite that, they were able to put up 16 points in the final period, making the final score closer than it appeared.
Clearfield dropped the opening junior varsity contest as well in a close 28-26 game.
Next week, the Lady Bison (2-7) have two Mountain League contests, as they will travel to Tyrone on Wednesday night then return home on Friday to take on Penns Valley. There is a possibility that Friday night’s contest could be played inside the new gymnasium at the high school, however that will be determined as the week progresses.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Punxsutawney 15 16 16 16 – 63
Clearfield 6 11 6 16 – 39
Al. Reitz 0 0-0 0, Ferko 1 0-0 2, Painter 3 1-1 7, A. Horner 1 0-0 2, As. Reitz 1 1-3 2, newcome 5 0-0 10, Dipietro 6 0-2 15, White 1 0-0 2, E. Horner 4 2-2 11, Constantino 3 4-4 11, Bridge 0 0-0 0, Fye 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 25 8-12 63.
Castagnolo 0 0-0 0, Spencer 2 1-2 7, Ryan 0 0-0 0, Leigey 0 0-0 0, Waring 0 0-0 0, Riddell 0 0-0 0, Lash 1 0-0 2, Aveni 4 2-4 10, Sopic 2 3-3 7, Glenny 1 0-0 2, Aycock 0 0-0 0, Ishman 2 4-6 8, Ireland 1 1-2 3. TOTALS 13 11-17 39.
THREE-POINT SHOTS: PY-Dipietro (3), E. Horner, Constantino; CF-Spencer (2)
Field Goals (Made-Att): 25-51/13-44
Team Rebounds: 27/17
Team Fouls: 14/12
Lady Bison Scoreboard:
|@ Brookville Tip-Off Tourney|
|12/06||vs. Brookville||ppd.||0 – 0|
|12/07||vs. Brookville||18 – 45||0 – 1|
|12/07||vs. North Clarion||47 – 38||1 – 1|
|12/11||CENTRAL||35 – 54||1 – 2|
|12/13||HUNTINGDON||23 – 39||1 – 3|
|12/16||@ Punxsutawney||24 – 66||1 – 4|
|12/17||@ Bald Eagle Area||39 – 32||2 – 4|
|12/20||BELLEFONTE||25 – 27||2 – 5|
|12/27||@ Curwensville||46 – 50 ot||2 – 6|
|01/03||PUNXSUTAWNEY||39 – 63||2 – 7|
|01/17||@ St. Marys|
|01/28||BALD EAGLE AREA|
|02/07||@ Penns Valley|