CURWENSVILLE – After four tough outings in 11 days, the Curwensville Area High School cagers registered their first victory in convincing fashion Wednesday night, putting the clamps on a very young, inexperienced and undermanned Moshannon Valley team 71-29.
The Golden Tide, led by Kyle Barrett’s 14 points, got production from 13 players in posting its biggest total on the Patton Hall scoreboard since a 74-35 win over Ridgway on Jan. 9, 2008.
Coach Matt Wassil was happy with the Moshannon Valley League win primarily because it generated a positive feeling in the Golden Tide locker room.
“It’s not so much how we won or who we beat,” he said. “It’s just a matter of, finally, getting in that win column and feeling good about yourself and not having to go home with a little bit of a negative coming from a loss.”
When it became obvious the undersized Black Knights, down to eight players with lone returning starter Joel Martin (ankle injury) and Dylan Jarrett (illness) sidelined and two sophomores and two freshmen in the lineup, were overmatched, Wassil constantly ran in full units in an attempt to balance the minutes and give his reserves valuable experience.
“If you mass substitute at times, you can guarantee you’re getting guys in, really to just get each group an opportunity to work on the things we’ve run through recently in practice, like our break and man-to-man defensive things,” Wassil said. “We just wanted to get an evaluation of them, and that’s why they got them in there with certain groups that they did.”
However, the first time Wassil sent five subs into the game was for a different reason.
The Golden Tide was guilty of five turnovers, all but one unforced, in its first eight possessions and had just given up a driving layup by Aleks Kovalick, Mo Valley’s only other returnee, that made it 4-2 with 2:41 off the clock.
That move got the starters’ attention, for when they returned with 3:56 left in the first quarter, they proceeded to take charge by dominating under the boards for easy two-pointers and making it virtually impossible for the Black Knights to penetrate their man-to-man defense.
Ahead 8-6, Curwensville closed the period with the final 13 points, Barrett netting six with a 17-foot jumper, a bunny off an Alec Starr assist and a putback and then feeding Boone McGary for an easy two.
After Kovalick opened the scoring in the second period, the Golden Tide ran off 19 consecutive points, including two putbacks by Barrett and steals by Alex Olson, Tanner Elensky and Shelby McGary.
Elensky, a freshman who gave the Black Knight guards fits in his first start, went on to set a Curwensville single-game record for steals with 10.
“Tanner is a pretty good on-the-ball defender and he was getting into the passing lanes,” Wassil said. “He’s coming on for us, but he plays in spurts. The fact we put him back in there (fourth quarter) and he got the two quick steals to get the record shows that we’re still not playing to our full potential all the time, because we had to tell him he had a chance at the steals record.
“But all the credit to him. He played a good game. That’s something he can build off of.”
The Golden Tide started the second half with a 44-15 bulge and was on the verge of bringing the 40-point mercy rule into play when Starr drove the lane for two, Elensky took two steals to the hoop, Starr followed with a layup off a steal and Barrett flipped in an offensive rebound to make it 53-15.
Soph Jim McHugh’s drive and, later, frosh Stephan Kovalick’s second of three 3-pointers enabled the scrappy Black Knights to block the mercy rule in the third quarter.
Curwensville finally widened the gap to 67-26 with 3:29 remaining to prompt a running clock that stopped only for foul shots.
The Golden Tide scoring was spread out fairly evenly behind Barrett, five players with six or more points and four others with four apiece.
The Kovalick brothers each had nine points to top the Black Knights, who had averaged only 21.3 points on 17.4 percent shooting in their previous three setbacks.
They were a little better in their MVL opener, hitting 10 of 42 shots for 23.8 percent.
Curwensville cooled off a bit after cashing 19 of 37 attempts in the first half to finish 31-for-73 for 42.5 percent.
The Golden Tide collected 46 rebounds and finished with 18 turnovers, while the Black Knights grabbed 21 missed shots and had 31 turnovers.
The Golden Tide got a mixed review from Wassil.
He said, “I told them in timeouts and at halftime it doesn’t matter what the score is, even against the really, really good teams we played like the Glendales and the Ridgways, and all those teams we’re gonna play, it matters whether your doing what you’re supposed to. At times in the first half, I didn’t think we really were. I didn’t think we moved our feet as well as we could have on defense. But then, at times, we did. I told them we’ve gotta be more consistent.
“We’re just hoping that feeling of a win might get our guys motivated a little bit more to keep working so those wins can start piling up.”
Curwensville will host a pair of Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference-Allegheny Mountain League Challenge doubleheaders next week, drawing Union Tuesday and Allegheny-Clarion Valley Wednesday in 7:30 p.m. starts.
DuBois Central Catholic is the fourth team and will play the two KSAC teams in 6 o’clock tipoffs.
Junior varsity games are booked for 3 and 4:30 both days.
Moshannon Valley League standings – Glendale 3-0, Harmony 1-0, Curwensville 1-2, Moshannon Valley 0-1, West Branch 0-2.
MOSHANNON VALLEY — 29
Aleks Kovalick 3 3-6 9, Stephan Kovalick 3 0-0 9, Luther Harlow 0 2-2 2, Jim McHugh 3 0-2 6, Nathan Bailey 0 0-0 0, Tim Rowley 1 1-2 3, John McMahon 0 0-0 0, Henry Richards 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 10 6-12 29.
CURWENSVILLE — 71
Tanner Elensky 3 1-2 7, Alec Starr 3 1-2 7, Kyle Barrett 7 0-0 14, Boone McGary 4 0-0 8, Shelby McGary 1 2-2 4, Will Rauckhorst 1 0-0 2, Dan Davis 1 0-2 2, Jesse Zorger 3 1-2 7, Kyle Johns 2 2-2 6, Alex Olson 2 0-0 4, Brett Gardner 1 2-2 4, Shane Hoover 2 0-3 4, Marcus Stephenson 1 0-0 2, Trevor Pennington 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 31 9-17 71.
Three-Point Field Goals: Moshannon Valley 3 (S. Kovalick 3).
Score by Quarters:
Moshannon Valley 6 9 8 6 – 29
Curwensville 21 23 13 14 – 71
Officials – Bill Zupich and Chris Sherkel.