CURWENSVILLE — Coming off a lackluster win at Ridgway Wednesday, the Curwensville Area High School boys basketball team met the intensity level sought by coach Matt Wassil and his staff in cruising past Sheffield 69-36 Friday night in Patton Hall.
Craig Bartlett put on a shooting clinic with 16 consecutive points in the second quarter and finished with 24, half on three-point field goals, to spark the Golden Tide to its third win in a row and fourth in five games. Philip Michaels added 12 points in the non-league triumph that boosted the Tide\’s record to 8-4.
Wassil didn\’t tell his team that Sheffield high scorer Jordan Copley, averaging 15.5 points a game, would not be playing. The outcome might not have been a whole lot different if the junior guard, who will return to action next week, had been in the lineup, for Curwensville was in high gear at both ends of the floor from the opening tip.
\”That\’s been kind of our thing all year,\” Wassil said. \”We just try to get these guys to play to their maximum potential and not necessarily worry about the other team. We feel if we play as hard as we can and leave it all out there on the court, whatever happens happens, and most of the time, with the talent we have, it\’s going to be a good result for us. Tonight, in the first half especially, we really came out ready to play, and that was a good thing to see.\”
Bartlett broke a 2-2 tie with a tough baseline drive to ignite a nine-point spurt and the hosts kept pressuring the Wolverines with their man defense to open a 23-6 bulge after eight minutes. Michaels had a pair of nice assists to Bartlett in addition to scoring five points in the quarter.
Curwensville was in front 28-10 midway through the second period when Bartlett stepped into the limelight. He swished six shots in a row to widen the gap to 44-12 at halftime. The senior guard connected on jumpers and set shots from the right base line, the right corner, the left wing and the right side, with the last four of them from three-point range.
\”We knew he was on fire, but we didn\’t know how many points he had in a row,\” Wassil said. \”We\’ve actually been on him a little bit lately because he hasn\’t been looking for his shot as much. His shot percentage wasn\’t down. He just wasn\’t look for his shot. We kept telling him his key contribution to our team is that he can shoot the ball well and without him looking to shoot, he\’s not doing us any good out there. Tonight, he finally got back into his groove and shot extremely well.\”
Michaels scored on a drive, a steal and a short jumper and Brandon McDonald got two easy buckets courtesy of dandy feeds by Michaels and Shawn Sopic in the third quarter as the Golden Tide extended the margin to 59-21 before the Wolverines closed with the last five points.
\”Once again we were sharing the ball pretty well,\” Wassil said. \”Philip was able to dribble penetrate a lot and get in the lane, and it made their big guys step up and help. He could have had more assists, but that (Jason) Borst kid is a good defender and he took away some with blocks. But I was real pleased with the way we moved the ball.\”
Wassil cleared the bench in the fourth quarter and was happy to see the reserves continue the intensity. Derek Dixon, for one, battled for five rebounds, turning one into a putback in a crowd.
\”I know it\’s cleanup time at the end,\” Wassil noted, \”But we talked to the kids at halftime and said, \’If you guys get in the game, we want you to go out there and try to better yourselves.\’ We said we wanted the same intensity we like out of our starters. And Derek did that. He\’s played real well lately, even in JV games. We hope he continues to improve.\”
Sheffield, which tumbled to 4-9 with its fifth straight setback, outrebounded Curwensville with Borst grabbing 13 missed shots to go with 11 points. He turned three rebounds into putbacks. Freshman Craig Fitch had 10 points for the Wolverines.
\”We didn\’t do a good job of checking out in the second half,\” Wassil said of the rebounding deficit. \”We talked about (Borst) before the game that he\’s not a scorer. He is a rebounder. But at 6-4, if you\’re offensive rebounding, you can put some points on the board.\”
The Golden Tide has three games next week, hosting Moshannon Valley Monday in a key Moshannon Valley League game and entertaining Brockway Wednesday in an Allegheny Mountain League South Division contest before visiting Clearfield Friday for a non-league scrap.
Five players scored in double figures as the Curwensville jayvees upped their record to 6-5 with a 72-21 victory. Sam Gardner was high with 19 points, followed by Jed Greslick with 13, Tyler Johns with 12 and Ryan Gardner and Andrew Starr with 10 apiece.