HYDE — The ride home from Brookville one night ago was one where the Clearfield Lady Bison had the feeling of dejection, sorrow, and heartache. At the same time, the recovery time before the next game was less than 24 hours, and Joey Castagnolo needed to get his team refocused before hitting the court once again.
Thankfully, the court they were playing on was their own Bison Gym, as the red-and-white squad welcomed in another team clad in the same colors, the Lady Raiders of Bellefonte.
In what was a spectacular contest for 32 minutes, it was the final 90 seconds where things got exciting on the court and in the stands. After trailing mostly all game, Bellefonte pulled off a thunderous comeback to knot the game even. But, when it counted the most, Clearfield got the grip on the hardwood, forced turnovers, leading to fast breaks and easy baskets to hold on and triumph in front of their home crowd, 51-42.
“It was a great girls basketball game. Both teams played hard, but played smart. We got to use our fast break to set up our shots, we forced turnovers. I’m just thrilled for the girls,” Castagnolo said afterwards.
The defense for Clearfield was playing hard right away, putting in the first five points on the night thanks to a three-pointer by Megan Durandetta and then a jump shot from Alayna Ryan. Bellefonte pulled back to within two, and took the lead for a brief moment, 10-8. But then a key three-point bucket from the post by Ryan put the Lady Bison back out front, and the home squad held strong after one, 13-12.
The second quarter had more of the same, but this time it was Nicollette Brossard leading the charge for the Bison in scoring, booking eight of her 14 points on the night in the second stanza.
But the game wasn’t without some mistakes as teammate Brooke Cline had a tough first quarter, getting charged with three fouls and forcing Castagnolo to change how his team played.
“They just aren’t the same with Brooke on the bench,” he said. “But, our bench played well, with Karlie (Gisewhite) and McLain (Alt) on the floor. They didn’t score any points, but they made smart decisions, and that helped us keep the lead.”
Heading into halftime, Clearfield held a 24-22 advantage, but what they didn’t have was opportunities at free points. With Bellefonte committing just nine fouls, Clearfield only went to the foul line four times on the night. But, all four shots went into the net, with the last pair being extremely important.
Clearfield held strong again in the third quarter, winning the frame by an 11-7 margin, but it was the fourth quarter when things really began getting intense.
Both teams were beginning to exchange baskets as the Lady Bison held a seven-point advantage with less than half a quarter to go. But the Lady Raiders were not going quietly, and decided to put the pressure on with their press defense. That led to quick turnovers on consecutive possessions, as Mallorie Smith, Maddie Steiner and Bella Corman each added a basket to lock the score at 42 a piece with just 97 seconds remaining. Bellefonte called a time out at 1:37 remaining in the game, and ultimately that allowed Castagnolo a chance to calm his team down and put forth an impressive run to close out the game.
“I told my girls to pressure the ball, but don’t foul. And, well, we did it to perfection,” Castagnolo said.
It all began when Tesa Miller took a rebound put-back shot that not only went through the hoop, but also led to a plus-one free throw thanks to a foul on Steiner. That basket went through, putting Clearfield up by three.
After that, it was Ryan, Cline, and Durandetta that combined to put the game away.
Ryan scored the final six of her game-high 16 points thanks to a couple of steals, and a few assists to put the game out of reach in the final seconds.
Castagnolo was a bit worried, but had a smile on his face when he saw the poise of his team, stating, “We didn’t panic, and we didn’t make silly mistakes. We worked the floor to layup, and that made a difference.”
The Lady Bison were not able to sweep the night, losing the opening junior varsity game, 31-20.
Coming off the loss at Brookville, Castagnolo was happy to see his girls come back one night later and show what they are capable of doing.
“It was a long ride home from Brookville. The girls were down, they felt horrible. I’m just so proud of them for putting that behind them and playing their game tonight,” he said. “Bellefonte played us hard, but clean. We needed a win, and the girls got it done.”
The Lady Bison (2-4) have one final game before the holiday break when they travel to face DuBois on Friday night. Tip off is set for 6 p.m. with the junior varsity game leading off, varsity to follow.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Bellefonte 12 10 7 13 – 42
Clearfield 13 11 11 16 – 51
Bellefonte – 42
Steiner 3 3-6 9, Smith 4 2-2 10, Broni 1 1-3 3, Tice 3 0-0 6, Corman 3 0-5 6, Lauch 0 0-0 0, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Dehaas 3 2-4 8. TOTALS 16 8-20 42.
Clearfield – 51
Durandetta 4 0-0 11, Brossard 6 2-2 14, Cline 3 1-1 7, Ryan 7 0-0 16, Gisewhite 0 0-0 0, Alt 0 0-0 0, Rhine 0 0-0 0, Miller 1 1-1 3. TOTALS 21 4-4 51.
Three-Point Shots: Durandetta (3), Ryan (2)
Fouled Out: Brossard
Lady Bison Scoreboard:
|12/09||@ Brookville Tip-off Tourney|
|12/09||vs. North Clarion||51 – 58||0 – 1|
|12/10||vs. Clarion-Limestone||60 – 19||1 – 1|
|12/13||@ Central||30 – 46||1 – 2|
|12/15||HUNTINGDON||32 – 54||1 – 3|
|12/18||@ Brookville||48 – 65||1 – 4|
|12/19||BELLEFONTE||51 – 42||2 – 4|
|01/09||BALD EAGLE AREA|
|01/12||@ Penns Valley|
|01/15||@ St. Marys|
|02/02||@ Bald Eagle Area|