CURWENSVILLE — Already the winningest girls basketball team in Curwensville Area High School history and champion of the Moshannon Valley League, the Lady Tide shoots for another special goal Saturday.
The Allegheny Mountain League crown will be at stake when Curwensville and Elk County Catholic take to the DuBois Middle School hardwood at 6 p.m. in the rematch of the 2006 title game won 65-41 by the Lady Crusaders.
Curwensville (18-4) earned the right to represent the South Division because of a better overall record than DuBois Central Catholic (11-11) after they deadlocked for first place at 8-2. ECC (17-5) ran away with the North Division at 8-0 going into tonight\’s game against Kane.
The Lady Tide, which also will be in action tonight with an MVL makeup at Glendale, has a little extra incentive for the AML playoff. Back on Dec. 8, in the second game of the season, the Lady Crusaders overcame the Lady Tide\’s 17-6 lead after one quarter with a 21-8 bulge in the second period and went on to post a 51-47 victory.
\”We turned the ball over 29 times to their 11, and that was the ball game,\” Curwensville coach Vic Gearhart recalled. \”That definitely was the key. We gave them 18 extra opportunities. In the second quarter, they had some steals and transition baskets off their press.
\”We got off to a good start, but I knew they were going to make a run. It was a close game after that.\”
The teams have been successful this season with contrasting styles.
\”We play mostly six girls, and we try to run a control type game for that reason,\” Gearhart explained. \”They like to run a lot of people in and out and wear people down.
\”They\’ll play fullcourt, man press the whole game. And they like to double team if you turn your back or dribble off to one side. They\’re well coached, and they\’ve played that defense for a long time. They play year round, too.\”
So, taking care of the ball is paramount for the Lady Tide. Rebounding and extending the defense to neutralize ECC\’s three-point shooters also will be very important, according to Gearhart.
He pointed out that no less than seven Lady Crusaders have topped the century mark in scoring, topped by 5-6 senior guard Andie Beveridge\’s 12-point average. The others, who average from five to eight points, are 5-9 senior forward Emily Radkowski, 5-5 senior guard Laken Lenox, 5-4 sophomore guard Kirstie Pistner, 5-8 sophomore Bre Grimone, 5-8 freshman Emily Detsch and 5-10 senior Laura Straub.
Detsch came off the bench to spark the Lady Crusaders in the early season game against the Lady Tide, scoring nine of ECC\’s 11 points in the fourth quarter to lead the team with 16.
Dani Struble\’s 26-point effort wasn\’t enough for Curwensville. The senior guard is the No. 2 scorer in District 9 with 401 points and an 18.2 average. She\’s hit 126 of 156 free throws for an outstanding 81 percent.
Versatile senior Jackie White, who can play outside or inside, follows with 257 points (12.2 average), sophomore Hannah Walls has 138 (6.3), junior Holly Fink has 81 and senior Ronna Knepp had 78. Walls is at home out front or on the wings, Fink usually runs the baseline and Knepp plays in the post.
White leads the Lady Tide in rebounds (194) and assists (72). Struble has grabbed 133 missed shots, Knepp 100 and Walls 88.
All of ECC\’s loss have been to the three teams involved in the District 9 Class AAA Playoffs, 48-40 and 64-57 to Bradford, 62-49 and 70-44 to Punxsutawney and 70-45 to Clearfield.
Curwensville also has split with Clearfield, losing 58-46 in the Penns Manor Holiday Tournament consolation game.
Both teams had lengthy winning streaks in January, the Lady Tide with nine wins and the Lady Crusaders with eight.
With DuBois Central Catholic and Elk County Catholic matching 21-1 records in the boys title game at 7:30, a full house is assured, and most of the fans will be arriving early. Gates will open at 5 p.m.
\”It definitely is going to be an exciting atmosphere,\” Gearhart said. \”It\’s a good game for us going into the (District 9 Class AA) playoffs, a quality opponent in playoff conditions.\”
Second-seeded Curwensville will host Moniteau in a 9-AA quarterfinal Tuesday at 7 p.m.