CURWENSVILLE – It was a playoff atmosphere at Curwensville Area High School’s Patton Hall Friday night featuring a game between the Golden Tide of Curwensville and the Clearfield Bison.
When the smoke settled the packed gymnasium saw the Tide earn a tough win, 57-52, over a very focused and inspired Bison team.
Curwensville Head Coach Shane Pentz said after the battle, “This was definitely a playoff atmosphere that I hope can carry us into the upcoming playoffs. We’ve won six of our last seven down the stretch that should also give us some confidence for the post season.”
Pentz continued, “No one really took control of this game. We knew this was going to be a tight battle because Clearfield has been playing very well as of late. We just happened to come out on top.”
Clearfield Head Coach Forrest Campman spoke after the game, saying, “That was a great game for everyone that was there. I am sure fans from both sides enjoyed it. Both teams played, overall, pretty well.”
Curwensville, now 14-8 heading into the playoffs, swept the two game season series over the Bison, having won at Clearfield, 56-38, in the first game of the year for both squads back on December 9.
The Tide jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead before the Bison settled in to go out in front after one quarter, 12-8. Junior Trey Rauckhorst had five for Curwensville in the first eight minutes of action.
Clearfield would stay in the lead most of the second quarter before Tide senior Tanner Elensky hit a three point shot with 3:15 left in the first half to give Curwensville a 21-20 edge.
Bison senior Wyatt Westen made a bucket with just one tick left on the clock before the intermission, tying the game at 22-22 at the break.
Elensky put the Tide ahead with a basket early in the third frame giving Curwensville the lead once again, 24-22.
It was a lead the Tide wouldn’t lose, although Clearfield did knot the score at 26-26 on a bucket by Erik Sellers with 5:25 left in the third.
Elensky and Brett Gardner each had five third quarter points that enabled the Golden Tide to take a four point margin, 39-35, into the final eight minutes.
The Bison, however, weren’t going away, as two free throws by Christian Lezzer and one by Will Myers pulled Clearfield to within one point, 39-38, with just over seven minutes left in the contest.
But Gardner took things into his own hands, hitting back to back three pointers that pushed Curwensville closer to the win, 45-38, with 5:20 left.
Gardner had five treys on the evening, three in the fourth quarter. His effort wasn’t missed by Campman, “Obviously the Gardner (Brett) kid hit some real big shots for Curwensville in the fourth quarter that kept them out in front..”
Clearfield would get as close as 52-49 thanks to a three point bucket by Myers with 1:30 remaining in the game, but Gardner quickly returned the favor with a trey of his own with 1:10 left putting Curwensville up 55-49 and on the way to victory.
Campman liked how his team fought back, “I thought that all of the kids that played for us tonight played well. Curwensville had a chance to go up by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter but our kids fought back to keep us in the game.”
Gardner led all scorers with a game high 23 points and was helped out by teammate Elensky who dumped in 12.
The Bison had three players in double digits with Westen, off of the bench, scoring 16. Sellers with 13 and Myers with 12 also aided the Bison offense.
The junior varsity game was won by Clearfield, beating Curwensville 40-39 in overtime. High scorer for Clearfield was Caleb Strouse with 11 points and for Curwensville Jake Terry had 13 points.
The Golden Tide will now wait for the District 9 AA playoff seeds and match-ups, which are scheduled to be released on Sunday.
Pentz finished, commenting, “We do feel good right now about our 14 win season, and remember, we lost three games in overtime this year and could actually be setting with 16 or 17 wins.”
Clearfield (6-16) will advance to the District 9 AAA championship game against Punxsutawney with the official site, date and time information also coming out on Sunday.
In their only meeting of the season the Chucks handled the Bison 70-38, at Punxsutawney, on January 3.
CLEARFIELD - 52
Seth Ford 1 0-0 2, Christian Lezzer 1 5-6 7, Erik Sellers 4 5-9 13, Jonathan Janocko 0 0-0 0, William Myers 4 1-2 12, Wyatt Westen 5 6-8 16, Cody Spaid 1 0-0 2, Derek Hryn 0 0-0 0, Evan Brown 0 0-0 0, TOTALS - 16 17-25 52.
CURWENSVILLE - 57
Brett Gardner 8 2-4 23, Kyle Johns 1 1-2 3, Tanner Elensky 3 4-8 12, Trey Rauckhorst 2 4-6 8, Austin Jacobson 1 1-4 3, Alex Olson 1 2-2 4, Jake Terry 1 1-5 4, Nate Kurtz 0 0-0 0, Jason Thorp 0 0-0 0, Bryce McClure 0 0-0 0, TOTALS - 17 15-31 57.
THREE-POINTERS: Gardner 5, Elensky 2, Terry, Myers 3
SCORE BY QUARTERS:
CLEARFIELD 12 10 13 17 52
CURWENSVILLE 8 14 17 18 57
OFFICIALS: Bill Zupich, Rich Gormont, Byron Quinton