CURWENSVILLE — Those in attendance of Wednesday evening\’s girls basketball showdown at Patton Hall between Clearfield and Curwensville can\’t say the game wasn\’t worth the price of the gate admission.
Each team gave a valiant effort and couldn\’t have given any more, but in the end it was Curwensville holding on for a 54-51hard-fought victory in front of an energetic crowd. Curwensville started quickly and lead Clearfield, 15-3, after one quarter. Dani Struble was the highlight of the first half as she scored 20 of her game-high 25 points to give her team the advantage.
\”I thought we matched up pretty well,\” said Curwensville head coach Vic Gearhart. \”We wanted to avoid getting into a running up and down the court the entire game. We did fall into that at one point. But, I figured it would be close the whole way. Fortunately, we got a big lead. Then they squandered it, but they came back to get it back. It was an exciting basketball game. The kids never quit.\”
However, Clearfield was not about to quit. The Lady Bisons recovered from a deep first-quarter hole and chipped away at the Curwensville defense with a mixture of inside and outside shooting. The Lady Bisons held a 3-2 advantage just 1:38 into the game, but then fell behind by as many as 12 and never gained the lead until Brooke Jordan\’s jumper gave the Lady Bisons a 47-45 advantage with 2:50 remaining in the game.
Struble led Curwensville with 25 points, while Jackie White chipped in with 10 in the win.
\”She\’s just been everywhere,\” Gearhart said of Struble. \”We asked her to play a different position in the zone (defense) and she came out with a big steal. She\’s just a complete ball player. You don\’t have to get her ready, she\’s always ready.\”
Jordan paced Clearfield with 22 points, while Nikki Collins contributed 10 points in the loss.
It was in that final 2:50 where the competition became fierce. Curwensville was holding strong defensively in its 1-3-1 defense, while Clearfield was hitting its shot all over the court and slowly erasing the deficit and battling for victory.
Right after Clearfield took the lead, the Lady Tide responded by taking the ball inside and White was fouled. White hit 1 of 2 foul shots and Struble answered with a jumper at the 2:00 mark to give Curwensville a 50-49 advantage.
The teams traded turnovers as strong defensive play marked the second half. Curwensville called for a timeout with 1:00 left in the game and Mallory Janocko headed to the free-throw line for two shots – as both teams were in the bonus before the start of the fourth quarter.
The Lady Tide went to work defensively on the Lady Bisons. Clearfield did have its chances as Mallory Janocko converted a pair of foul shots to give the Lady Bisons a 51-50 lead.
However, Curwensville was not about to be denied.
\”That was a little surprising,\” Gearhart said of gaining the early advantage. \”If you live by the outside shot, if you are not hot that\’s what can happen. We were getting rebounds early and turning them into points on the other end. Later on they started hitting shots, scrapping around getting balls and tying it up and that is a hard pace to get comfortable with as many times as the ball was taken out of bounds.\”
Holly Fink\’s jumper put Curwensville ahead for good and White\’s free throw with 33 seconds left put the Lady Tide in comfortable position leading 53-51. However, with Clearfield\’s abilty to hit the 3-pointer, Struble\’s free throw with 5.3 seconds remaining gave the Lady Tide all the points they would need.
The Lady Tide went to work defensively on the Lady Bisons and were able to score four points over the final minute to secure the victory. Clearfield had its chances as Mallory Janocko failed to put-back a missed Collins jumper, but Janocko did earn a trip to the foul line. Janocko missed both shots, and Elizabeth Sopic hauled in the rebound of Janocko\’s second miss.
Sopic missed her initial shot, but pulled down the rebound. Her next shot didn\’t go into the cylinder, but the rebound was deflected to Collins. Clearfield moved the ball clockwise around the arc, but Struble stepped in front of a Clearfield pass to secure the win.
\”The close games are only going to be helpful to us down the road,\” Gearhart said. \”You can\’t simulate that kind of pressure. Every possession was a crucial possession and the kids are only going to benefit.\”
Annie Janocko played the second half with her left wrist taped. Curwensville is now 5-1 on the season and has now won four straight contests. Clearfield dips to 3-2 with the loss and has lost two consecutive games. Both teams could face one another at the Penns Manor Holiday Tournament on Dec. 29-30.
Curwensville – 54
Dani Struble 9 5-6 25, Hannah Walls 2 1-2 6, Ronna Knepp 2 3-4 7, Holly Fink 2 0-0 4, Jackie White 3 4-9 10, Holly Lansberry 0 0-0 0, Mindy Desmett 1 0-0 2. Totals: 19 13-21 54.
Clearfield – 51
Brooke Jordan 8 2-2 21, Nikki Collins 4 0-0 10, Elizabeth Sopic 3 0-0 6, Mallory Janocko 1 2-9 5, Annie Janocko 0 0-0 0, Julie Colesar 0 0-0 0, Alanna Luzier 1 0-0 3, Elizabeth Peters 0 0-0 0, Jayme Ryan 2 0-0 4, Madison Sopic 0 2-2 2, Gwenn Porter 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 6-13 51.
3-pointers: Curwensville 3-9 (Struble 2-4, Walls 1-4, White 0-1); Clearfield 7-27 (Jordan 3-8, Collins 2-7, M. Janocko 1-5, Luzier 1-5, Ryan 0-2).
Halftime score: Curwensville 27, Clearfield 21.