The Golden Tide showed its mettle by staying right with the Cardinals throughout the first half in Patton Hall, but the visitors took control with 13 unanswered points in the third quarter and maintained at least a seven-point lead the rest of the way for a 66-56 win to finish Allegheny Mountain League South Division play 10-0.
The fact that DCC, which had short-circuited 2006 Class A state champion Elk County Catholic\’s 49-game winning streak 69-68 Friday, couldn\’t pull away was important in Curwensville coach Matt Wassil\’s eyes.
\”Had we even won Monday, there would have been an emotional letdown, just because of how tough that game was,\” he said. \”For our kids to come out and compete like they did, that says a lot about their character and how they can bounce back. We were worried as a coaching staff that we might have a letdown. And as good as DCC is, if we have a letdown, they run us out of the gym. But our kids didn\’t let that happen.
\”Unfortunately, we lost, but I\’m happy the way we played,\” he added. \”It’s not like they (DCC) played bad and that’s why the game was close. They played good as well.\”
Former Moshannon Valley standout Chris Wulderk joined the 1,000-Point Club midway through the second quarter and giving the Golden Tide fits in the low blocks, wound up with 28 points to pace the Cardinals to their 19th victory. Clearfield St. Francis grade school product Christian Spilman, who sparkles as the playmaker, tallied 14 and Cody Wilson added 13.
The Golden Tide countered with its best scoring balance of the season, getting 18 points from Philip Michaels, 16 from Craig Bartlett and 10 apiece from Shawn Sopic and Brandon McDonald, who were outsized but not outfought under the basket.
\”I didn’t realize we were that balanced,\” Wassil said. \”That\’s a credit to our kids, cause that’s a good team we just played. That shows we gave probably our best effort, other than some mental breakdowns in the third quarter.\”
Bartlett came out on fire, scoring nine points in the first quarter on a pair of jumpers on the right baseline and two long shots from the left wing, including a three-pointer that gave the Golden Tide a 7-6 lead with 4:16 left. Spilman came right back with a trey from the right wing and added a floating bank shot and two late free throws to put the Cardinals in front 15-11 at the break.
In the second period, Curwensville forged ties at 17 on Sopic\’s layup and fallaway jumper and 21 on jumpers by McDonald on the baseline and Bartlett on the left wing. Late in the half, Michaels hit a jumper in the lane and nailed a long trey from outside to put the Golden Tide ahead 30-28 before Dom Varacallo countered from the right corner to deadlock the game at intermission.
Wulderk, who scored all 15 of DCC\’s points in the fourth quarter in Friday\’s stunner at ECC, canned two free throws with 3:53 left in the half to reach the 1,000-point plateau. Officials stopped the game so that coach Mike Nesbitt could present the game ball to the 6-3 senior center.
Wilson opened the third quarter with a three-pointer from the right corner that put the Cardinals ahead to stay. Then, in a span of 2:27, they transformed a one-point edge into a 46-32 bulge at the 3:00 mark. Spilman ignited the run with a trey from the left corner, and three quick turnovers by Curwensville were converted into layups, two by Wilson. Wulderk drove the lane for two and then added one of his four putbacks before McDonald ended the Golden Tide\’s nearly five and a half-minute drought with a nifty assist by Michaels.
Sopic\’s layup and drive and Michaels\’ three-pointer enabled Curwensville to close to within 48-41 in the final minute of the quarter, but Spilman banked in another field goal with seven seconds left.
Wulderk scored twice from close range to start the final period and kept the Golden Tide at bay with six more points, the last two when Spilman fired a two-handed pass from halfcourt past the surprised Curwensville defenders. Michaels kept the Golden Tide\’s hopes alive with eight points in the quarter.
DCC had the edge in rebounding and got the majority of its points very close to the hoop, but Wassil wasn\’t blaming his big men.
\”They have some quick guards and they were getting dribble penetration, and our big guys were stepping up to help,\” he explained. \”We work on it every day in practice for our opposite guard to cover down for them and check out the big guy so that we can secure that defensive rebound. There were a lot of times, especially in the first half, where our big guy made the right play by stepping up and preventing the guard from getting all the way to the hoop, and the offside big man was there to get the rebound. But our guard wasn’t coming down to check him out like he was supposed to. So, it was more of our breakdown defensively than it was our big guys not doing their jobs.\”
The 10-8 Golden Tide will try to end its four-game slide Friday at Johnsonburg in what promises to be another tough AML test. The 12-7 Rams, who have scored more than 80 points in their last two games, are led by 2,000-Point Club member Calvin Grumley.
\”You don’t like to look ahead too much before the season starts, but we (coaches) actually had looked at our schedule and we knew at this point we were going to have some tough games on our hands,\” Wassil said. \”We knew that this was probably going to be the toughest week. And it has been so far.
\”Our kids have responded. They’ve played good. We just haven’t been able to get that play when we needed it to get the win. Hopefully, these two games didn’t wear us out too much and we\’ll be all right with our legs. Maybe these first two games will have taught us something and we’ll go up there and get a win.\”
After trailing at halftime, the DuBois Central Catholic jayvees rolled to a 69-52 win on the scoring of John Ferraraccio (21 points), Will Gangewere
(15), Max Moclock (13) and Zack Lewis (10). For Curwensville, Derek Dixon and Sam Gardner netted 14 and 12, respectively.
DUBOIS CENTRAL CATHOLIC — 66
Eric Johnson 2 0-0 4, Cody Wilson 5 2-2 13, Chris Wulderk 13 2-2 28, Christian Spilman 5 2-2 14, Dom Varacallo 2 2-2 6, Andrew Welch 0 1-2 1, Michael Hassan 0 0-0 0, Matt Pentz 0 0-0 0. Totals: 27 9-10 56.
CURWENSVILLE — 56
Craig Bartlett 7 0-0 16, Philip Michaels 6 4-4 18, Ben McGary 0 0-0 0, Shawn Sopic 5 0-0 10, Brandon McDonald 5 0-0 10, David Kalgren 1 0-0 2, Joey Palmer 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 4-4 56.
Three-Point Field Goals: DuBois Central Catholic 3 (Spilman 2, Wilson 1). Curwensville 4 (Bartlett 2, Michaels 2).
Score by Quarters:
DuBois Central Catholic 15 15 20 16 — 66
Curwensville 11 19 11 15 — 56