HYDE — The final home game at any level is a tough night, especially when in high school. It’s four years of being in front of the same fans, playing on the same court, and being among the same teammates for the final time. It’s always a special night for seniors because they know it’s the final time they will suit up in their colors.
For the Clearfield Bison basketball squad (5-15) , that time had arrived.
The new Bison Gymnasium has only been open for two weeks, but for the team it was the fact that they were playing for the final time as a group, and the seniors wanted to leave with a victory, bidding farewell to the red and black for the final time. On the opposing side of the court was the very tough team of the Penns Valley Rams, hoping to spoil the festivities.
On this night, the visitors were successful, as the speed and height difference were too much to overcome. It led to turnovers and quick points as the Bison would fall in their final home game this season by a final of 41-34.
“A lot of it is matchups. We played a great game at Tyrone last night, except they had the best player in the league for the last couple years and he scored 39 points,” said head coach Forrest Campman in the locker room afterward. ”You look at the final score, but with three minutes left in the third quarter we were only down five points. But then, we ran out of gas, and we had a couple guys didn’t play as well as they could have.
“I know how Penns Valley plays. If you look at their scores, they play a lot of close games but they are a deliberate team in some ways. That plays right into our hands, where they don’t have great dribble penetration to try and execute, and we’ve always tried to play since I’ve come into this league, them well and Central well, and it’s usually a split at the end of the season, despite someone having a better record than somebody else. So, we match up really well.”
At the end of one quarter, despite not scoring till midway through the opening segment, the Bison were up 10-9. However, coming out of the short break, the Rams began turning on the heat. The player for Penns Valley that went on a tear at that point was Will Jackson.
He would seem to not be denied of any sort over the final three quarters of play, as he would find lanes to the basket, reach above the home team and put down points. He would account for nine of Penns Valley’s 14 field goals, plus sink 11 of 14 free throws, leading to a game-high 29 points. For Campman, the statistics are astounding, but he was focused on the other two big names on the Rams, Luke Weaver and Zach Engle.
“He’s not even their player. It’s Weaver. He’s their all-conference player. Jackson isn’t that guy that scraps around, but I guarantee you that’s more points he’s scored in a single game this year,” Campman said. ”He’s normally a 7-8 point player, but it’s usually Weaver and Engle because they find a way to drop the ball to him, and he finishes.”
No other player on either side of the court would hit double digits, as Engle ended the night with eight points. Only four players for the Rams would score. For the Bison, it was Eric Sellers leading the scoring with seven points, while Wyatt Westen and Curtis Spaid each accounting for six points a piece. Sellers, Spaid and Will Myers all had five rebounds at the end of the evening as well.
Campman did not like being on the lower end of the score, but he was quick to point out that despite the loss, the team was playing better, and that drew in a bigger crowd over the last month of the year.
“You can’t deny a home court advantage. If there’s any sport where you have an advantage with a decent crowd is basketball. We’ve had really good crowds,” Campman said. ”When you’re playing better, crowds get bigger. When you’re losing by 40, you only have the hard-nosed veterans there watching, but no one is coming to the games.
“It’s super to see us playing better, but I still don’t accept losing.”
After three quarters, the Bison were down six points, but were still in it. To start off the fourth quarter, both Spaid and Myers each were able to nail a pair of three-point shots at the top of the key, bringing the home squad to within two. But, each shot they made, they weren’t able to capitalize as the Rams would come back with one or two shots that put the gap right back where it was. Campman was glad to see that rather than just wave a white flag and yield, the team did not quit.
“We came right back. That’s what we’ve been doing; instead of folding,” Campman said. ”Last night (Thursday), we just got tired. We’ve bounced back, we just haven’t found enough points to get ahead.”
The junior varsity squad opened the night with a victory, in an ironic twist with the same final score of 41-34.
To close out the 2013-2014 season, the Bison have two games next week, both being on the road, but are against two of their closest rivals, each not being a far drive from the high school. The week will start with a trip to Patton Hall against Curwensville, and the season will conclude with a trip to long-time rival in many sports, Philipsburg-Osceola. For Campman, the nice thing about ending the season against the teams that are the shortest to travel to, it’s a good way to end the year on a positive note, no matter what the team’s record may be.
“For memories, you want to beat the two closest teams that are by you. That’s the great thing about playing against neighbors your last couple games, even if you’re not that good. It gives you incentive to keep playing,” Campman said.
NOTE: Senior Christian Lezzer was not in attendance for the game as he was competing in a football game in Texas.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Penns Valley 9 12 9 11 – 41
Clearfield 10 7 7 10 – 34
Penns Valley 41
Alexander 1 0-2 2, Johnson 0 0-0 0, T. Collison 0 0-0 0, Ulmanic 0 0-0 0, C. Collison 0 0-0 0, Weaver 1 0-2 2, Jackson 9 11-14 29, Tobias 0 0-0 0, Beanesderfer 0 0-0 0, Engle 4 0-1 8. TOTALS 15 11-19 41.
Ford 0 0-0 0, R. Lezzer 0 0-0 0, Taylor 0 0-0 0, E. Brown 0 0-0 0, Sellers 2 3-4 7, Westen 2 0-0 6, Janocko 1 1-2 3, Jones 0 0-0 0, Spaid 2 0-1 6, Myers 2 1-2 6, A. Brown 0 2-2 2, Hryn 1 2-2 4. TOTALS 10 9-13 34.
Field Goals (Made-Attempted): 15-32/10-33
Team Fouls: 13/16
Team Rebounds: 14/16
|12/09||CURWENSVILLE||38 – 56||0 – 1|
|12/10||@ Central||32 – 55||0 – 2|
|12/13||@ Huntingdon||41 – 65||0 – 3|
|12/18||BALD EAGLE AREA||57 – 89||0 – 4|
|12/20||@ Bellefonte||52 – 51||1 – 4|
|@ PL Lions Club Tourney|
|12/27||vs. Bald Eagle Area||41 – 68||1 – 5|
|12/28||vs. Harmony||51 – 32||2 – 5|
|01/03||@ Punxsutawney||38 – 70||2 – 6|
|01/06||TYRONE||ppd.||2 – 6|
|01/07||@ Brookville||ppd.||2 – 6|
|01/09||TYRONE||40 – 62||2 – 7|
|01/10||@ Penns Valley||39 – 68||2 – 8|
|01/14||PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA||71 – 56||3 – 8|
|01/17||ST. MARYS||41 – 51||3 – 9|
|01/20||DUBOIS||49 – 65||3 – 10|
|01/22||CENTRAL||44 – 41||4 – 10|
|01/24||HUNTINGDON||49 – 61||4 – 11|
|01/28||@ Brookville||ppd.||4 – 11|
|01/29||@ Bald Eagle Area||53 – 73||4 – 12|
|01/31||BELLEFONTE||58 – 39||5 -12|
|02/03||@ Brookville||34 – 47||5 – 13|
|02/05||@ Tyrone||ppd.||5 – 13|
|02/06||@ Tyrone||47 – 74||5 – 14|
|02/07||PENNS VALLEY||34 – 41||5 – 15|