Slow Start Dooms Golden Tide Against Golden Knights

CURWENSVILLE – First and third quarter troubles continued for the Curwensville Area High School boys basketball team against Union Tuesday night.
The visiting Golden Knights outplayed the Golden Tide to the tune of 22-7 in the first eight minutes and 18-5 in the third period on their way to a 61-44 win on the Patton Hall hardwood.
The setback on the first night of the third annual Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference-Allegheny Mountain League (KSAC-AML) Challenge left the Golden Tide staring at a 1-5 record.
“I wish I could put a finger on it,” said coach Matt Wassil, whose team was outscored 74-32 in the first quarter and 47-24 in the third quarter in its previous four losses. “I guess the only thing I can point to is not being ready to play right away, cause it seems like in the second and fourth quarters, we play pretty well.
“But you can’t take eight minutes to warm up.”
A variety of turnovers, including several steals resulting from Union’s man defense and zone press after a made basket, forced Curwensville to play catch-up from the outset.
Taylor Smith’s trey and Derek Shirey’s baseline jumper had given the small but quick Golden Knights a lead they never relinquished.
Kyle Barrett, Alec Starr and Shelby McGary nailed jumpers on three of the Golden Tide’s first four shots in the first 5½ minutes.
The only problem was Curwensville was down 15-7 because nine possessions ended in turnovers.
You just can’t overcome missing opportunities to even shoot the basketball,” Wassil said. “You’re giving them easy opportunities when you’re turning the ball over, and you’re not getting any.
“We’re 75 percent from the field at that point but not getting to shoot the ball. So that’s a huge deal.”
Union posted the next seven points for the 15-point cushion on 9-for-17 shooting.
To their credit, the hosts battled back with three-pointers by Shane Hoover and Tanner Elensky providing a spark early in the second period.
Later, an 8-0 run on baskets by Shelby McGary, Elensky, Kyle Barrett and Boone McGary set the score at 28-21 with 2:25 left in the half.
Curwensville’s next points didn’t come until Starr drove for a layup with 5:41 remaining in the third quarter.
Union had 40 points in the hopper by then and pushed the margin to 25 points, 51-26, going to the fourth period.
Eight points by Elensky and four by Kyle Barrett, who had a tough shooting night under the hoop, helped the Golden Tide earn an 18-10 advantage down the stretch.
Wassil noted he started Elensky for Boone McGary in the second half to counter Union’s four-guard lineup.
“Boone had played hard, but it was just a bad match-up for us to have two big guys in there against their quick lineup,” he explained. “So we figured we could sub Boone and Kyle in and out and try to keep only one big guy on the floor.”
Elensky, a freshman, wound up topping the Golden Tide with 13 points, including a pair of three-pointers. Starr had nine points while Barrett added eight to go with nine rebounds.
Union got 14 points apiece from returning starters Taylor Smith and Brody Pollock and 10 from Trent Corle.
The Golden Knights shot 41.3 percent (21-for-51) and more than held their own around the boards with a 32-25 rebounding edge.
“They’re a solid team,” Wassil said.
His Golden Tide hit 18 of 47 shots from the floor for 38.3 percent but totaled 25 turnovers.
Curwensville will entertain Allegheny-Clarion Valley (3-2) in another KSAC-AML Challenge game Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
Union (3-2) will meet DuBois Central Catholic (5-1) in the twinbill opener, with tip-off set for 6 o’clock.
Chris Marshall’s double-double led DuBois Central Catholic past A-C Valley 56-32 in Tuesday’s first game. Marshall scored 17 points and hauled in 12 rebounds for the Cardinals, while Ryan Bartley pumped in 14 points for the Falcons.
UNION — 61 
Taylor Smith 5 2-2 14, Brody Pollock 4 4-4 14, Trent Corle 3 0-0 6, Derek Shirey 2 2-2 6, Austin Davis 2 0-0 5, Shawn Booth 3 0-0 6, Brandon Hill 1 2-2 4, Shawn Burns 0 2-2 2, Aaron Graham 0 0-2 0.  TOTALS: 21 13-15 61.
Alec Starr 3 3-5 9, Kyle Barrett 4 0-0 8, Boone McGary 1 0-2 2, Shelby McGary 2 0-0 4, Shane Hoover 1 1-2 4, Tanner Elensky 5 1-1 13, Will Rauckhorst 1 0-0 2, Dan Davis 1 0-0 2, Alex Olson 0 0-0 0, Brett Gardner 0 0-0 0.  TOTALS: 18 5-10 44.
Three-Point Field Goals: Union 6 (Smith 2, Pollock 2, Coble, Davis); Curwensville 3 (Elensky 2, Hoover).
Score by Quarters:
Union            22  11 18  10  –  61
Curwensville    7  14   5  18  –  44
Officials – Marvin Martell and Lee Martell.
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