PHILIPSBURG — The way this season has been going, Clearfield Area High School boys basketball coach Forrest Campman knew the shot Philipsburg-Osceola point guard Matt Curtis launched from NBA range as time ran out Tuesday night would find nothing but the net.
\”Right now, it Murphy\’s Law for my team,\” he said in replaying Curtis\’ three-pointer that gave the Mounties an exciting 34-31 non-league win. \”If something bad can happen, it seems to be happening to us right now even though we do a lot of good things.\”
Ten days earlier, the Bisons were victimized by a buzzer-beater in a gut-wrenching 50-48 loss at Bradford.
\”Bradford is the best team we\’ve played all year, hands down,\” Campman said. \”You have to see us every game to realize what we\’re like. If our game is high scoring, its close. If it\’s low scoring, it\’s close. We could win the district championship and finish .500.\”
Clearfield dipped to 7-6 in what has become a typical defensive battle with P-O since former Bison standout Matt Barnes became the Mounties\’ coach.
\”Every time we play it\’s a low scoring game,\” said Barnes after the Mounties\’ ninth win in 15 games. \”That\’s expected with Forrest\’s defense. I thought it would be first team to 40 would win. In this case, it was the first team to 30.\”
For the longest time, it didn\’t appear either team would get there, as both clubs went through long stretches unable to pry the lid off the hoops. They made it an easy game for the scorekeepers and a tough one for the statisticians tracking missed shots, turnovers and rebounds.
Pressure on the perimeter by both zone defenses, Clearfield\’s 1-1-3 and P-O\’s 3-2, left the rivals with very few easy shots. James Zimmerman\’s floater in the lane with 4:05 after the opening tip was the Bisons\’ lone field goal in the first quarter. Fortunately, the Mounties got only treys by Mike Supko early and Joe Komisar with 27 seconds left for a 6-3 lead.
A hot hand by Todd Hryn enabled Clearfield to inch in front 13-12 at the half. The junior reserve tied the score three times with a turnaround jumper, a power move inside and a lay-up off a Zimmerman feed before giving the visitors their first lead at 13-10 with a three-pointer from the top of the key.
Jon Whitman, working the baseline to turn passes by Curtis and Supko into lay-ups, scored six of his game-high 10 points and Dan Decker canned a long three-pointer as the Mounties jumped to a 21-13 advantage three minutes into the third quarter. Then they went cold, and the Bisons got a pair of three-pointers by sophomore reserve Jarrin Campman and one by Zimmerman to close the period for a 22-21 edge.
Zimmerman extended Clearfield\’s run to eight to open the final period. Supko\’s trey tied the score at 24, but Bison Andrew Janocko untied it with a three from the left corner with 5:41 left. A putback by Komisar more than a minute later started a 6-0 run by the Mounties and prompted coach Campman to burn a timeout.
\”I thought a crucial, crucial point in the game was where they got four offensive rebounds in a row and got a putback,\” he said. \”If we get a rebound there, we would have probably pulled the ball out and made them chase, even with a three-point lead. I don\’t think we rebounded real for having more having more height. They outscrapped us a little bit on the boards.\”
With 2:23 left, Supko drove the base line and through two Bisons to put the Mounties ahead 28-27. Komisar kept them on top by making three of four free throws around a Zimmerman jumper, but Clearfield point guard John Lohta dribbled from the left wing, across the foul line and down the right side of the lane for an improbable lay-up that knotted the count at 31-31 with 16 seconds left.
Everybody was thinking overtime, but Barnes got a timeout with eight seconds to set up the game-ending play, which wasn\’t executed exactly the way it was diagrammed.
\”We wanted the ball in Matt Curtis\’ hands to make a decision as our floor general,\” Barnes said. \”I feel very confident with him shooting the basketball every time he has it. It was either going to be him or Mike Supko that we were going to, and it happened to be Matt Curtis. We wanted him to get it off a screen and pull up and shoot. He kicked it over it over to Dan Decker and then it came back to him and he was able to knock it down for us.\”
\”Almost every game this year has been like this,\” Campman said. \”Whether we win or lose, it comes to the last seconds. It just looked like we were tentative in everything we did. We had the ball in a lot better opportunities to score than where they had the ball to score, but we did nothing with it. All of a sudden we\’d make the wrong move with the ball. It was a lot of little things.
\”It\’s still a real simple game, put the ball in the basket. Against us, it seems like Supko hits that three-pointer every time. I thought the Whitman kid had a very good game. He was all over the place and made a lot of good plays. And the Komisar kid came through for them in the clutch with the foul shots. I could tell it was one of those nights when Whitman shoots a foul shot, it hits the back of the rim, bounces up in the air 20 feet and comes down through. That wasn\’t a real good omen.
\”But we played solid defense and we played hard. I\’m never going to criticize the kids\’ effort. This was one of those games that you\’ve gotta make one more play. And they made one more play at the end.\”
It was a shot Curtis, who missed only his only other attempt, never will forget.
\”We knew this was going to be a defensive battle and we had to weather the storm when they went on a run,\” Barnes said. \”They weathered the storm when we went on a run. So, as expected, it came down to that last possession.
\”You\’ve gotta give credit to Clearfield, though. When we had an 8-0 run and went up 21-13, they answered back with a 9-0 run of their own.
\”We held our composure. We\’ve been in so many tight games. We play 32 minutes of basketball every single game, so we\’ve been in these situations quite a bit. Joe Komisar knocking down those free throws at the end were just as important as Matt Curtis knocking down that three-pointer.
\”So this is a good win for us on our home floor, creating some excitement for these guys.\”
Coach Don Billotte\’s Clearfield jayvees rode Matt Shiner\’s 24 points, Nate Greenland\’s 13 and Drew Hipps\’ 11 to a 59-40 victory. Dusty Golding and Luke Curtis topped P-O\’s underclassmen with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
CLEARFIELD — 31
John Lhota 1 0-0 2, Andrew Janocko 1 0-0 3, Mike Johnson 0 2-4 2, Kyle Kline 0 0-0 0, James Zimmerman 4 0-0 9, Todd Hryn 4 0-0 9, Jarrin Campman 2 0-0 6, Drew Hipps 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12 2-6 31.
PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA — 34
Mike Supko 3 0-0 8, Dan Decker 1 0-0 3, Clint Mills 1 0-2 2, Matt Curtis 1 0-0 3, Jon Whitman 4 2-2 10, Joe Komisar 2 3-4 8, Luke Curtis 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12 5-8 34.
Three-Point Field Goals: Clearfield 5 (Campman 2, Janocko 1, Zimmerman 1, Hryn 1). Philipsburg-Osceola 5 (Supko 2, Decker 1, M. Curtis 1, Komisar 1).
Score by Quarters:
Clearfield 3 10 9 9 — 31
Philipsburg-Osceola 9 6 9 13 — 34