ERIE – A chilly second half in the PIAA “play-in” game sent the Clearfield Bison boys basketball team down to defeat Tuesday night at Mercyhurst Prep against District 10 foe, the Central Tech Falcons of Erie 44-39.
In what was a contest of two halves Clearfield just couldn’t keep momentum to put the Falcons away and advance to the PIAA AAA first round.
John Mellgard of the Bisons hit a three pointer at the seven minute mark of the first period for the first score of the game putting Clearfield in front 3-0.
The two squads would go back in forth in the opening frame with the score settling in at 7-7 after one frame was in the books.
Central Tech would start the second eight minutes by taking an early 10-7 lead over their District 9 opponent. Then the Bisons put together their best quarter in a very long time in outscoring the Falcons 13-5 to take an eight point lead at the half, 20-12. At one point in the second stanza the Bisons went on an 11-0 run.
Seniors Ben Johnson and Trey Campman each scored five points in the second period to push Clearfield out in front. Johnson scored five straight when the score was knotted at ten apiece. Campman finished the period with five straight of his own, including a lay-up as time expired to end the first half. Both players hit a three pointer in the period.
Clearfield came out in the second half and started right where they left off after the first sixteen minutes as Campman hit another three to give the Bisons their biggest margin of the game at 23-12. Then it all went quickly away for the Bisons as the Falcons picked and clawed their way back into the battle.
Falcon Justin Aur would tie the game at 25-25 before freshman teammate Eugene Husband knocked down a trey giving Central Tech the lead at 28-25 with 1:40 remaining in the third quarter.
Clearfield tried to regain their poise and confidence and trailed by just three, 30-27, at the end of the third session. Unfortunately the tone had already been set by the comeback Falcons and it was just a matter of time before they would stretch their lead.
With 5:23 left in the fourth and final period Husband put the Falcons up by six, 34-28, with his last bucket of the night.
Clearfield would get it’s final bucket of the contest and the season on a three-pointer by Chad Zurat, one of six Bisons playing their last game, to set the final 44-39 in favor of Central Tech.
Zurat paced Clearfield with 16, while Campman dumped in eight and Johnson and Mellgard each had seven.
Shawn Pennamon had twelve and Keith Wallace eleven to fuel the Falcon offense.
Central Tech took 19 free throws, making eight, in the fourth period as the Bisons had to foul to get possession of the ball. On the evening the Falcons were 11 of 25 from the foul line with Clearfield going 6 for 7.
Afterwards Clearfield head coach Forrest Campman spoke about the second half, saying, “We gave up way too many lay ups which set the tone for them offensively, plus I warned the kids at the half that they would come out and try to molest us and steal the ball, which they did several times. We just had a hard time crossing mid-court in the second half with the press they were running.”
Campman then talked about his squad in general, “Just like tonight, when we played a really good first half, I thought this team (Clearfield) played up to it’s potential most of the time this season. They gave a great effort most nights, which made them a very exciting and fun team to watch.”
The Bisons end their season with a 13-11 mark saying good-bye to the following seniors: Chad Zurat, Trey Campman, Ben Johnson, Curtis Bell, Jason Bowman and Luke Peterson.
Central Tech, now 15-11, will next play on Friday night at 7 pm at Canon-McMillan High School in Canonsburg. The Falcons will challenge District 7 (WPIAL) champion Chartiers Valley , with a 25-1 record, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.
CLEARFIELD – Ben Johnson 3 0-0 7, Trey Campman 3 0-0 8, Chad Zurat 6 3-3- 16, John
Mellgard 2 2-2 7, Curtis Bell 0 1-2 1, Jason Bowman 0 0-0 0, Andrew Redden 0 0-0 0, Curtis
Frye 0 0-0 0, Luke Peterson 0 0-0 0, TOTALS – 14 6-7 39
CENTRAL TECH – Keith Wallace 2 7-12 11, Shawn Pennamon 5 2-3 12, Jeremiah Edwards 3 2-6 8, Davon Stovall 1 0-3 2, Justin Aur 3 0-1 6, Eugene Husband 2 0-0 5, Jerry Langoya 0 0-0 0, TOTALS – 16 11-25 44
SCORE BY QUARTERS:
CLEARFIELD 7 13 7 9 39
CENTRAL TECH 7 5 18 14 44
THREE-POINTERS: CLEARFIELD – 5 Campman 2, Zurat, Johnson, Mellgard CENTRAL
TECH -1 Husband
OFFICIALS: Dan Clark, Paul Hess and Dan Heher