Lady Wolves Rally To Oust Lady Tide From 9-AA Playoffs, 52-45

ST. MARYS — The opener of the District 9 Class AA Playoffs turned out to be a re-run of a re-run with the same unhappy ending for the Curwensville Area High School girls basketball team Thursday night.

Just like their two regular season losses to Kane, the No. 2-seeded Lady Tide suffered through one unproductive eight-minute stretch in the St. Marys Area High School’s Dutch Oven and saw their season come to an end with a disappointing 52-45 loss.

A 21-8 third quarter was the difference as the Lady Wolves, seeded No. 7 because of a .500 record, advanced to the semifinals by bouncing the Lady Tide out of the tourney for the second year in a row.

This one was eerily reminiscent of their Allegheny Mountain League game at Kane Feb. 7, when the Lady Wolves came out of the locker room on the short end of a 26-17 count and promptly outscored the Lady Tide 17-2 to win 47-36.

“That seems to be the way we’ve been playing Kane all year,” McCracken said. “We have a couple good quarters and then just can’t finish it out.

“I feel bad for the girls. They played hard. We just couldn’t get some shots to fall in the second half.”

Crucial to the outcome was Kane’s ability to take high-scoring Ciara Strickland out of the Curwensville offense after she burned the Lady Wolves’ box-and-one defense in the first four minutes.

The junior guard got away from Kelsey Johnson just long enough to sink her first three shots, all three-pointers, and point guard Heather Thorp added another trifecta, only her third of the season, for a 12-3 start that the Lady Tide turned into leads of 14-9 after one period and 27-21 at halftime.

Strickland had a dozen points at the break, but with Sydney Dyne joining Johnson in chasing her, wasn’t able to score again until tossing in a runner that made it 48-41 with 2:44 remaining.

She added two free throws for a 16-point outing that left her one shy of becoming the third member of Curwensville’s 1,000-Point Club.

“They kept her quiet in the second half,” McCracken acknowledged. “They played good defense. You’ve gotta give them credit for that.”

That defense got the Lady Wolves in early foul trouble as Tierra Shope made five of six free throws and added a late bucket off a pass from Thorp to back Strickland in the first half.

Shope finished with 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds in her final game for the Lady Tide. Classmate Kealy Wassil pulled down seven missed shots.

Ten turnovers prevented Curwensville from having an even bigger lead at intermission and were more of a problem in the pivotal third quarter when the Lady Tide self-destructed with eight more, several of the unforced variety.

“We just stopped doing the things that we need to do, and we threw a lot of bad passes,” McCracken said. “It seemed like we didn’t know what the heck we were doing with the basketball. Even in the first half we had some turnovers that were really nobody else’s fault but ours.

“When they went into that half-court trap, we just looked like we’ve never done anything with that before. And we’ve worked on it.”

Six Lady Wolves contributed points in the turnaround stretch that included an 18-4 run over the final six minutes of the third period. Junior forward Taylor Morgan led them with six, four coming at the foul line.

She tacked on four more on two trips to the charity stripe in the fourth quarter and shared game honors with Strickland.

“Morgan really does a nice job,” McCracken said. “She posts hard and she goes right at your defenders. She doesn’t care who it is. And if she misses a shot, she gets herself in position to rebound and try to put it back up. She’s quick.”

Poor shooting thwarted any hopes of a fourth-quarter rally by the Lady Tide, who made only two of 19 attempts and never made it a two-possession game until Shope’s two free throws with less than 12 seconds left.

“That, and we weren’t looking to rebound,” McCracken said. “That’s been a problem we need to solve somehow.”

Freshman point guard Kiley Kinney backed Morgan’s inside play with 13 points, mostly on drives to the hoop, for the Lady Wolves, who will take a 13-12 record into their semifinal against No. 3 seed Clarion-Limestone early next week.

The Moshannon Valley League champion Lady Tide finished their best season since 2007 with a 15-8 record and a second consecutive trip to the playoffs.

“This team really enjoyed playing with each other, and you don’t always get to say that,” McCracken said. “They really enjoyed seeing each other do well. When you look at our stats, we’re up above 320 assists.

“It’s just been a pleasure to coach them this year.”

The Lady Tide will be losing three starters to graduation, guard Abby Dugo as well as the guardians of the paint, Shope and Wassil.

“They not only add to the game, but they add to the team character as well,” McCracken said. “And they’re characters. I’m gonna miss them greatly.”

KANE — 52

Kelsey Johnson 1  0-0  2, Taylor Morgan 3  10-16  16, Sydney Dyne 1  1-2  3, Camryn Cummings 3  1-2  7, Kiley Kinney 5  3-4  13, Katelyn Moran 3  0-0  6, Emily Truden 0  3-4  3, Alaina Barner 0  0-0  0, Emily Hauser 1  0-0  2.  TOTALS: 17  18-28  52.

CURWENSVILLE — 45

Heather Thorp 3  0-2  7, Tierra Shope 3  7-8  13, Ciara Strickland 4  5-6  16, Abby Dugo 0  2-2  2, Kealy Wassil 1  0-0  2, Hannah Dixon 1  0-0  3, Shauna Guy 1  0-0  2.  TOTALS: 13  14-18  45.

Three-Point Field Goals – Curwensville 5 (Thorp, Strickland 3, Dixon).

Score by Quarters

Kane             9  12  21  10  -  52
Curwensville 14  13   8  10  -  45

Officials – Marv Martell, Lee Martell and Bill Zupich.

Final Lady Tide Scoreboard:

Date Opponent Score Record
12/09 @ Mo Valley 36 – 35 1 – 0
12/10 @ Brockway 46 – 35 2 – 0
12/13 RIDGWAY 57 – 20 3 – 0
12/16 @ Harmony 60 – 23 4 – 0
12/20 KANE 38 – 49 4 – 1
12/27 CLEARFIELD 50 – 46 ot 5 – 1
01/03 @ DuBois Central 34 – 55 5 – 2
01/06 @ West Branch ppd. 5 – 2
01/07 JOHNSONBURG ppd. 5 – 2
01/10 MO VALLEY 45 – 30 6 – 2
01/13 HARMONY 59 – 21 7 – 2
01/15 ELK COUNTY 46 – 51 7 – 3
01/17 JOHNSONBURG 43 – 47 7 – 4
01/20 @ Glendale 57 – 39 8 – 4
01/21 @ Ridgway 52 – 24 9 – 4
01/24 BROCKWAY 37 – 46 9 – 5
01/27 DUBOIS CENTRAL 27 – 34 9 – 6
01/29 @ West Branch ppd. 9 – 6
01/30 @ West Branch 53 – 37 10 – 6
01/31 @ Johnsonburg 51 – 42 11 – 6
02/03 GLENDALE 63 – 28 12 – 6
02/04 SHEFFIELD 55 – 36 13 – 6
02/07 @ Kane 36 – 47 13 – 7
02/10 @ Clearfield 47 – 42 14 – 7
02/12 WEST BRANCH 49 – 26 15 – 7
  D9 AA Playoffs    
02/19 vs. Kane (@ St. Marys) 45 – 52 15 – 8
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