HYDE — When the Clearfield Lady Bisons and St. Marys girls\’ basketball teams first met back on December 13 in St. Marys, the Lady Bisons allowed St. Marys to dictate the play despite rallying from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to claim victory.
Tuesday evening at Arthur J. Weiss Gymnasium the Lady Bisons dictated the play throughout the game and set the tone with stingy, all-out defense that combined with a potent offense to score a 56-46 win in front of the home crowd. Clearfield again played brilliantly in the fourth quarter but this time it was by maintaining its lead and not allowing a St. Marys comeback attempt.
\”(St. Marys) battles all the time,\” said Clearfield head coach Joey Castagnolo. \”They are well-coached. We were lucky to escape up there. We were down 13 going into the fourth quarter, and we were lucky enough to win by three.
\”The difference in the games was we set the tone down here.\”
The Lady Bisons set the offensive and defensive tone early in the game. Clearfield played a brilliant game on offense and a stingy game on defense. The Lady Bisons were able to use their inside-outside offense to perfection.
Point guard Nikki Collins and center Elizabeth Sopic, who put up her third straight double-double, wreaked havoc on the St. Marys defense all night long. Collins did an outstanding job of knowing when to push the ball inside to Sopic, and went to drive the lane to get easy baskets.
Sopic led Clearfield with 18 points, while Collins burned the St. Marys defense for 12. Juliana Howell scored nine points and Alanna Luzier came off the bench to score eight in a winning effort.
\”Another typical double-double for her,\” Castagnolo said of Sopic\’s play. \”That\’s three in a row. She is playing so well right now. The first half I wasn\’t happy with her. She missed too many easy shots inside. The second half she got her composure and did a nice job.\”
On defense, the Lady Bisons pressued St. Marys right out of the gym – especially late in the second half. Clearfield picked up stellar games on defense from Annie and Mallory Janocko as the pair continually threw their bodies all over the floor to break up passes and played in the opposition\’s face throughout the game. Sopic controlled the inside, along with solid play from Amber Byerly, and guards Collins, Howell, Luzier and Brooke Jordan – who saw her first action since sustaining a concussion back on December 29 – played solid defense on the perimeter to prevent St. Marys from gaining any open looks on long-range shots.
\”It\’s not always who scores. I watch the defense. Mallory (Janocko) and Annie (Janocko) they do an excellent job with my philosophy of defense. They don\’t score like the other kids do and that is why we play as a team. They sacrificed their bodies for the win. You won\’t see it in the boxscore, but I know how they play,\” Castagnolo said.
Both teams played well in the first half as St. Marys held a 31-29 halftime edge. But, it was in the second half where Clearfield claimed victory. The Lady Bisons wore St. Marys down with pressure defense and solid offensive play to distance itself in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Bisons made their move with a pair of layups early in the fourth quarter. Luzier hit layup with 4:36 showing on the clock and the Clearfield defense pressured the Lady Dutch into a turnover on the ensuing possession. On the turnover Howell drilled a layup to give Clearfield a 45-41 lead with 3:38 left. Missy Aul, who led St. Marys with 22 points, hit a layup with 3:27 on the clock to cut Clearfield\’s lead to two.
Clearfield answered as Sopic hit a free throw and Byerly hit a layup for a 48-43 Clearfield advantage. The Lady Bisons then picked up free throws from Luzier to grab a 7-point lead, 50-43.
The Lady Bisons defense created turnovers and converted them into precious points and never looked back in gaining a hard-fought victory.
\”I think our defense picked up the tempo,\” Castagnolo said. \”They knew we were in a run. My guard play was excellent – Juliana, Nikki, Alanna – they do so well creating havoc out there. This is a nice team effort. The bench played well.\”
Down the stretch Clearfield picked up a layups from Sopic and Collins and foul shots from Jordan and Julie Colesar to set the final.
In junior varsity action, Clearfield downed St. Marys 46-33. Amber Byerly led the way with 14 points.
Cleafield (8-4 overall, 4-2 D9 League) travels to Central Mountain on Friday. Junior varsity action is set for 6 p.m.
St. Marys – 46
Tammy Yanak 1 0-0 2, Kara Carnovale 2 0-0 5, Missy Aul 8 6-8 22, Lauren Pelgrin 0 0-0 0, Mandy Stinchcomb 4 0-0 11, Tia Cunningham 2 2-2 6, Emiliy Nathorn 0 0-0 0, Gina Pelgrin 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 8-10 46.
Clearfield – 56
Juliana Howell 4 0-2 9, Nikki Collins 6 0-0 12, Elizabeth Sopic 8 2-3 18, Mallory Janocko 0 0-2 0, Annie Janocko 0 1-2 1, Brooke Jordan 1 1-4 3, Alanna Luzier 3 2-2 8, Madison Sopic 0 0-0 0, Amber Byerly 2 0-1 4, Elizabeth Peters 0 0-0 0, Julie Colesar 0 1-2 1. Totals: 24 7-16 56.
3-pointers: St. Marys 4-15 (Stinchcomb 3-7, Carnovale 1-3, L. Pelgrin 0-5); Clearfield 1-12 (Howell 1-5, Collins 0-2, M. Janocko 0-1, Jordan 0-1, Luzier 0-3).
Score By Quarters
St. Marys 18 13 6 9 – 46
Clearfield 18 11 10 17 – 56