Larson Nets 30 as West Branch Spoils Lady Tide Opener 67-43

CURWENSVILLE – Kari Larson poured in 30 points as the West Branch Area High School girls basketball team, playing its fourth game in five days, breezed to a 67-43 win over Curwensville in Patton Hall Tuesday night.
The Moshannon Valley League game was the opener for the Lady Tide, and despite the final margin, coach Vic Gearhart was encouraged by the play of his young team.
\”For all the experience they had, I thought it was a pretty good effort for our first time out,\” he said.
\”There were some things we discussed, mostly hustling and keeping up the intensity everywhere on the floor, not just in spurts. They have to do it all the time, be alert and ready to go after loose balls and get to the boards.
\”Fundamentally, they made a lot of mistakes, but I saw a lot of good things out there, too.
\”I\’m taking a lot of positives away from this one.\”
Senior Holly Fink\’s career-high 20 points and junior Alesia Bressler\’s 11 points and nine rebounds topped the list of good things Gearhart saw.
The two led a third-quarter charge as the Lady Tide chopped a 21-point halftime deficit to 11 on two occasions, first at 46-35 and then 50-39 with 2:01 remaining. Bressler, working hard on the inside, scored Curwensville\’s first nine points of the period, and Fink followed with eight in a row during the 17-6 run. 
However, the Lady Tide didn\’t score again until Fink hit a pair of field goals in the final minute.
In the interim, West Branch stepped up the pressure with its full-court zone press and made it one-sided with 17 unanswered points in an eight-minute stretch en route to balancing its record at 2-2.
The Lady Warriors harried the Lady Tide guards during a first-half run, too.
Hannah Walls and Tess Bloom joined Fink and Bressler in the scoring column as Curwensville kept it close in the first six minutes, trailing only 12-11 after Fink hit one of her baseline shots.
West Branch proceeded to reel off 14 points in two minutes to open a 26-11 spread going to the second period.
Two free throws by Larson and back-to-back three-pointers from the right wing by Larson and Jolene Wesesky made it 34-11 before Bloom ended Curwensville\’s dry spell with two free throws.
The Lady Warriors\’ biggest lead was 39-15 when Roni Crowell nailed a three from the left corner with 4:15 left in the half, which ended with the visitors in command, 43-22.  
\”We made a lot of turnover mistakes against the press, in the second quarter, especially,\” Gearhart said. \”We didn\’t play that badly in the third quarter. Again, we had a couple of turnovers, but were making it respectable.
\”West Branch has a nice squad. They move the ball well, they fast break, they did a good job pressing, that had some outside shooters and they have some people inside. So, they have everything you\’d want in a team.\”
Larson, who racked up 14 points in the first period, tormented the Lady Tide with drives along the left baseline and short, hanging jumpers. She also scored on steals and fast breaks.
Sophomore Rebecca Kephart contributed 12 points and grabbed more than a dozen rebounds for coach Doug Myers\’ team.
Bloom added nine points, all in the first half for Curwensville.
The Lady Tide was outrebounded 39-27 and committed 21 turnovers.
Curwensville will make the short trip to Clearfield Area High School Wednesday night to meet the rival Lady Bisons and then return to Patton Hall Friday to begin Allegheny Mountain League play against Elk County Catholic.
In the prelim, Roni Crowell pumped in 19 points and Jada Larson added 10 for the West Branch junior varsity in a 55-18 win. Courtney Bachelier\’s seven points were high for Curwensville. 
Kari Larson 13 3-4 30, Brianna Parks 2 1-2 5, Jolene Wesesky 3 0-0 7, Kristen Perks 1 0-0 2, Rebecca Kephart 3 6-8 12, Misty Modzel 1 0-2 2, Mariah McDowell 2 0-0 4, Roni Crowell 1 0-0 3, Victoria Jarrett 0 0-0 0, Amanda Arnold 0 0-0 0, Jada Larson 1 0-2 2, Bethany Kopchick 1 0-0 2.  TOTALS: 27 10-18 67.
Hannah Walls 1 1-2 3, Tess Bloom 1 7-8 9, Mindy Desmett 0 0-0 0, Alesia Bressler 4 3-6 11, Holly Fink 10 0-0 20, Jenessa Stiles 0 0-0 0, Jenae Stiles 0 0-0 0, Shayla Buzard 0 0-0 0, Sarah Robb 0 0-0 0.  TOTALS: 10 11-16 43.
Score by Quarters:
West Branch   26  17  11  13  –  67
Curwensville    11  11  17   4  –  43
Three-Point Field Goals:  West Branch 3 (Larson, Wesesky, Crowell).
Officials: Lee Martell, Marvin Martell.
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