Obama Academy Pulls Away Late To End Season for Clearfield Cagers, 66-52, in PIAA Sub-Regional

CLARION — A valiant effort and an outstanding shooting performance by Will Myers weren’t enough to extend the Clearfield Area High School basketball team’s season Monday night as Obama Academy finished strong to win the PIAA Class AAA sub-regional game 66-52 on the Clarion High School hardwood.

The final score couldn’t have been more deceiving, for the District 9 champion Bison played the quick, athletic Eagles on even terms until midway through the fourth quarter,

But the District 8 representatives had enough in the tank to end the well-played game on a 14-4 run and spoil Clearfield’s first appearance in the state playoffs since 2009.

While the game-high 27 points Myers poured in, the big double-double by 6-7 junior Cody Spaid on the inside and the end-to-end hustle by the Bison may have gone for naught, coach Nate Glunt couldn’t have been prouder of his first Red and Black team.

“For three and a half quarters, I thought we played excellent basketball,” he said. “There were things we could have done a little better and things we did really well.

“Things they had success with weren’t anything that we gave them. We didn’t make mistakes that led to them getting easy baskets. It wasn’t that we just left them wide open. They made plays because of their athletic ability. They made tough shots. They’re spinning in traffic, shooting over 6-7 (Spaid). Give them credit.

“They didn’t give us anything either. The shots we made were set up because our kids made plays.

“I thought it was an excellent high school basketball game.”

Obama Academy (15-6) was playing with the lead most of the way, but Clearfield forged ties on eight occasions, including 13-13 on a Myers trifecta near the end of the first period.

The 6-3 sophomore, who missed only three of 12 attempts, displayed a soft touch all over the floor as, time after time, he kept the Bison in the hotly-contested clash with tough, clutch shots when the Eagles seemed on the verge of breaking it open.

“He made momentum-stymieing shots,” Glunt said. “He always had an answer when they would get out to a four or five-point lead or when they would hit two baskets in a row.

“With their athletic ability, he had to work for his shots and he didn’t have a long time to get set. He had to catch and shoot. He just had good footwork, had good fundamentals and held his follow-through.

“He didn’t hit a shot at all in our last practice, but he hit ‘em all tonight. That works for me.”

Myers drained treys from the right side and the right corner late in the half to keep the Bison close at intermission, 27-24.

He was on target from behind the arc on back-to-back possessions late in the third quarter to put Clearfield in front, 38-37, for the first time since the opening minutes.

Obama Academy responded that time with seven consecutive points to lead 44-40 going to the fourth quarter.

After burly center Erik Taylor tossed in a baby hook, Spaid powered his way to the hoop for two-and-one and Myers nailed a baseline jumper to make it 46-45.

Two layups by Taylor, a 6-4 sophomore, and drive through the lane by James Taylor-Lane stretched the Eagles’ advantage to seven before Myers fired in his final three-pointer from outside to keep the Bison in the game, down 52-48 with 3:49 remaining.

Then, the Eagles reaped the rewards of their pressure defense, forcing six turnovers on the Bison‘s next eight possessions.

Super sub Kenny Robinson fueled a 13-2 run that lasted less than 2½ minutes and gave the Eagles their biggest lead, 65-50, with 1:28 left.

The 6-1 sophomore, who got the start after coming off the bench most of the season, scored nine points, including a dunk, to finish with 18 points.

“Once we got down, we tried to get off quick shots, and it just got away from us,” Glunt said.

Taylor-Lane led Obama Academy with 24 points, six above his regular-season average, mostly by getting to the rim on drives or finishing fast breaks. Taylor added 10 points, all but two coming in the fourth quarter.

The way the Eagles were able to counter the Bison’s tight man defense was a key, according to Glunt.

“I thought their ballhandling was phenomenal,” he explained. “They weren’t that much quicker than us, but when we would get pressure, their ability to change directions was one of the big differences in the game. I was impressed.”

The Eagles did not have a turnover in the first half and wound up with only eight, while the Bison finished with 21, nine in the pivotal fourth period.

The Bison more than held their own under the boards, outrebounding the Eagles 28-26 with Spaid grabbing a game-high 10 to go with 15 points. Myers and Erik Sellers had six rebounds apiece.

Glunt second-guessed himself for having Spaid stationed at the high post to help attack the Eagles’ man pressure.

“That was not a good decision,” Glunt said. “By doing that, I took him out of the block and he wasn’t able to make his presence in the post. And our guards did a good job of handling their pressure.

“When he went into the block, he played as physical as he could without fouling. I should have left him in the block.”

Obama Academy, which finished second among the five Class AAAA teams in the Pittsburgh City League, shot 49.2 percent (29-for-59).

Clearfield hit 42.9 percent but didn’t get off nearly as many shots, making 18 of 42.

The Bison, with Sellers the lone senior on the roster, closed their turnaround season with a 20-4 record, so the future is bright for Glunt and his staff.

“I’m just a piece of the puzzle, and it was real exciting for me to watch how the kids worked so hard throughout the year,” he stated. “We had a lot of close games and the kids played so hard.

“I’m extremely grateful to everybody who put so much into this team. We had great support from the administration, the students, the parents and the community.

“I’m just sad it’s over. I want to keep going.”

Instead, Obama Academy will be the team moving on to the opening round of the PIAA Playoffs. The Eagles will play Ambridge, District 7’s third seed, Friday.

OBAMA ACADEMY — 66

James Taylor-Lane 10 3-5 24, Denzel Fields 5 0-1 10, Isaiah Prentice 0 0-0 0, Kenny Robinson 8 2-8 18, Nasir Tatum 0 0-0 0, Erik Taylor 5 0-1 10,, Lenell Pitomy 1 0-0 3, Quinton Kimes 0 0-0 0, Ronald Brown 0 0-0 0, Eronn Hammond 0 1-2 1, Brandon Matthews 0 0-0 0, Julian McGee 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 29 6-17 66.

CLEARFIELD — 52

Erik Sellers 3 0-0 6, Will Myers 9 3-5 27, Cody Spaid 5 5-5 15, Tommy Hazel 0 2-2 2, David McKenzie 0 0-2 0, Evan Brown 0 0-0 0, Caleb Strouse 1 0-0 2, Carter Wood 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 18 10-14 52.

Three-Point Field Goals — Obama Academy 2 (Taylor-Lane 1, Pitomy 1), Clearfield 6 (Myers 6).

Score by Quarters

Obama Academy    13  14  17  22  –  66
Clearfield                  13  11  16  12  –  52

Officials — Roddy Hartle, Jamie Evans and George Schneider.

Final Bison Scoreboard:

Date Opponent Score Record
12/09 CENTRAL 54 – 50 1 – 0
12/12 @ Huntingdon 73 – 64 2 – 0
12/15 @ Curwensville 71 – 40 3 – 0
12/17 @ Bellefonte 53 – 31 4 – 0
12/19 TYRONE 79 – 61 5 – 0
12/22 PUNXSUTAWNEY 57 – 47 6 – 0
12/29&30 Purchase Line Tourney
12/29 vs. Purchase Line 67 – 42 7 – 0
12/30 vs. Bald Eagle Area 77 – 72 8 – 0
01/06 @ Bald Eagle Area 79 – 56 9 – 0
01/07 @ Brookville 53 – 45 10 – 0
01/09 PENNS VALLEY ppd. 10 – 0
01/12 PENNS VALLEY 49 – 61 10 – 1
01/14 @ Philipsburg-Osceola 64 – 27 11 – 1
01/16 @ St. Marys 66 – 62 12 – 1
01/19 @ DuBois 53 – 49 13 – 1
01/21 @ Central ppd. 13 – 1
01/22 @ Central 44 – 25 14 – 1
01/23 HUNTINGDON 59 – 41 15 – 1
01/28 BELLEFONTE 53 – 28 16 – 1
01/30 @ Tyrone 42 – 47 16 – 2
02/03 BALD EAGLE AREA 62 – 49 17 – 2
02/06 @ Penns Valley 57 – 63 17 – 3
02/09 CURWENSVILLE 64 – 36 18 – 3
02/10 PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA 63 – 21 19 – 3
02/27 District 9 Championship Game
02/27 vs. Punxsutawney (@ Clarion U.) 57 – 33 20 – 3
03/02 PIAA Play-in Game
03/02 Obama Academy @ Clarion HS 52 – 66 20 – 4
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