Golden Tide Heats Up in Second Half for 76-43 Victory

CURWENSVILLE — After a closer-than-expected first half, primarily because of subpar shooting, Curwensville Area High School coach Matt Wassil\’s advice to his cagers was to keep firing away against the Brockway zone Wednesday night.

The Golden Tide, which got the last seven points of the second quarter from Philip Michaels for a 26-19 lead against a team it had defeated 42-16 on Dec. 12, got the message.

Sparked by Ben McGary in the third quarter and Brandon McDonald in the fourth period, the hosts torched the Patton Hall nets for 50 points over the final 16 minutes to muzzle the Rovers 76-43 in the Allegheny Mountain League South Division game.

\”Anytime you can\’t knock down any shots, it\’s going to keep the other team in the game,\” Wassil said following Curwensville\’s fifth consecutive win. \”I don\’t think we had enough movement inside with our big guys flashing to the high post and low post. So, we weren\’t getting them available, to make the defense collapse. Even when we did, our guards just couldn\’t make a jump shot, and you really can\’t coach that. You\’ve just got to tell them to keep shooting, and that\’s the message we conveyed at halftime. We couldn\’t get down about missing shots. We had to keep shooting and eventually they\’d fall.\”

McGary had the hot hand in the third quarter with 11 of his career-high 14 points. His three-pointer from the right wing gave Curwensville a double-digit lead that Brockway trimmed to 31-25 with 6:02 left. The Golden Tide sophomore then canned another trey from the top of the circle and a baseline jumper, and the Rovers never got closer than nine points.

\”Ben\’s one of those guys who we talked to at halftime, Wassil said. \”We said, \’Your shot\’s there. It\’s just missing. You\’ve got to step up and be ready to shoot again in the second half. You\’re gonna have open looks.\’

\”As soon as he made that first three, I think his confidence went up. I think the rest of the guys realized that and said, hey, we can make shots. It just carried us through that third quarter.\”

Curwensville enjoyed a 17-point cushion before Brockway got a field goal and two free throws from reserves Armando Fortunato and John Hawkins to make it 46-33 going to the final period.

McGary was on target again with a jumper from the top of the circle to trigger a 30-point explosion by the Golden Tide. McDonald stepped into the limelight by keying a 19-0 run that expanded the spread to 70-37. The senior forward muscled his way to the hoop for two field goals, stepped outside to nail a straightaway trey and turned a steal into a layup for nine of his 10 points.

\”We had different guys step up at different times, and that\’s exactly what you need, especially when you\’re struggling offensively shooting the ball,\” Wassil said.

Early on, the fans were staring at a repeat of the first meeting. Craig Bartlett\’s jumper from the left wing gave the Golden Tide a 3-0 start after 15 seconds, but the scoreboard didn\’t change again until Bartlett swished another three-pointer from the right corner with 3:18 left in the quarter.

The Rovers finally got on the board via Clay Halpin\’s lay-up with 3:04 left and they went on take a 9-8 lead when Anthony Varischetti grabbed a shot that was short of its mark and beat the buzzer with a lay-up.

Each team had a six-point spurt in the second quarter as Curwensville moved in front 14-9 and then fell behind 17-16. The game was tied at 17 and 19 before Michaels took charge in the last 45 seconds. The Golden Tide\’s leading scorer canned a trey from out front for his first points of the night and then turned a steal into a four-point play when he was intentionally fouled driving for a lay-up.

\”That was a big spurt for us,\” Wassil said. \”I think early on, when he was missing his shot, he was starting to defer to the other guys too quickly. He was trying to set up other guys, but they weren\’t making their shots either. We were just cold offensively in the first half. That steal kind of got him going.\”

Michaels finished with a game-high 18 points.

Halpin had 10 points to top Brockway, which fell to 2-14 after ending an 11-game losing streak with a 46-45 win at Sheffield Monday night.

Wassil pointed out the Rovers shot much better than in the early-season game at Brockway but still ended up only a few points above their average.

\”Once we started to shoot the ball well, we got above our average, too,\” he said. \”Anytime you get to 76, you can\’t be too disappointed, no matter how you get there.\”

The Golden Tide will take a 10-4 record to Clearfield Friday night for a non-league encounter.

Curwensville\’s junior varsity won 46-30 behind 14 points by Ryan Gardner.

Steve Capetta 2 0-0 4. Mark Shannon 2 4-4 8, Luke Swintek 2 0-1 4, Gabe Mancuso 1 0-0 2, Clay Halpin 5 0-0 10, Anthony Varischetti 4 0-0 8, Nate Shaffer 0 1-6 1, Armando Fortunato 2 0-0 4, John Hawkins 0 2-2 2. Totals: 18 7-13 43.

Craig Bartlett 5 0-0 13, Brandon McDonald 4 1-3 10, Shawn Sopic 2 0-0 4, Ben McGary 5 0-0 14, Joey Palmer 3 1-4 7, David Kalgren 1 1-2 3, Derek Dixon 0 0-0 0, Sam Gardner 1 0-0 2, Ryan Gardner 0 3-4 3, Jed Greslick 0 0-0 0, Andrew Starr 0 0-0 0, Tyler Johns 0 2-2 2, Mark Dell\’Antonio 0 0-0 0, Heath McCracken 0 0-0 0. Totals: 28 10-17 76.

Three-Point Field Goals: Curwensville 10 (McGary 4, Bartlett 3, Michaels 2, McDonald 1).

Score by Quarters:
Brockway 9 10 14 10 — 43
Curwensville 8 18 20 30 — 76

Allegheny Mountain League South Division:
DuBois Central Catholic 7-0, Curwensville 4-2, Ridgway 1-4, Brockway 0-6.

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