PHILIPSBURG – Inability to close out games has been costly for the Clearfield Area High School cagers, especially in the second half of the season, and the problem surfaced again Saturday.
After being behind or even for nearly 13 minutes, the Bisons seemed to have all the momentum when they surged ahead of Philipsburg-Osceola 48-42 with 4:53 remaining in their Mountain League Allegheny Division make-up finale.
Robbie Myers, who had career-high 30 points to go with 11 rebounds, gave the Bisons their first lead since late in the first quarter by muscling in a lay-up to snap a 40-all tie 29 seconds into the fourth period.
His tip-in six seconds later and two free throws at the 5:51 mark established a six-point edge, which Andrew Redden restored with a pair of foul shots after a Cody Curtis basket gave the Mounties their first points in seven minutes.
Then, P-O came to life with Ryan Nartatez providing the spark.
The senior guard ignited a 21-9 rally with his third three-pointer and dropped in eight of 10 foul shots in the last 2:38 as the Mounties avenged an early January 44-31 loss 63-57 in the duel of two teams seeking to end losing streaks as the season winds down.
While P-O (4-17) ended its seven-game slide, Clearfield (4-16) saw its streak extended to six.
“The last three games we’ve given up over 50 points, and we aren’t winning if we’re giving up that many,” Clearfield coach Forrest Campman said.
“I thought when we got ahead 44-40, we were sitting pretty good.
“Then, at that point, we’re not trying to stall the ball, we’re just trying to get the spacing to try to get the ball into Myers. We’re still looking for guys to attack the basket.
“But the (Cody) Curtis kid, whoever he was covering, was gonna definitely stop dribble penetration, and we just had some bad turnovers.
“It’s hard to image how you can the things we do in certain situations we get in.”
The Mounties capitalized when the Bisons self-destructed down the stretch, starting with not accounting for Nartatez right after they went up by six points, and he popped his trifecta from the left wing.
“He was the one kid, we said, can’t get any open threes, and he makes the big three there,” Campman said. “And then we fall asleep on the next possession and they throw over the top of the defense to the other (Cole) Curtis for a lay-up.
“Then, we miss a couple bunnies when you need to answer in that situation.”
Cody Curtis’ driving lay-up put P-O in front for keeps with 2:02 left, and Nartatez hit pairs of free throws around a Buddy Jones putback that opened a 55-48 lead.
Clearfield did cut the margin to 58-55 on Christian Lezzer’s trey from the top of the key with 46.5 seconds left, but Nartatez made three of four foul shots to finish with 26 points and then fed Cole Curtis for the bucket that sealed it 63-55, with 26.8 seconds on the clock.
“He was the one guy we didn’t want to put at the line,” Campman said of Nartatez. “He was making every foul shot. They did a good job getting him the ball when they got the lead.”
Cody Curtis was a duel-threat for the Mounties with 13 points and tough defense on the Bison guards.
Campman described him as a “one-man wrecking crew. He gave us fits.”
Myers did the same to the P-O defense in the low post, whether wheeling to the basket after accepting entry passes or converting offensive rebounds into putbacks.
The junior center got Alan Mills and Jones into foul trouble, and both eventually fouled out, making the Mountie comeback more impressive.
Myers scored 10 consecutive points for the Bisons as they got off to 7-0 and 13-6 leads in the first 5:38, but the Mounties fought back to take a 15-13 lead into the second quarter.
Jack Mellgard canned a jumper and dished to Myers with 4:47 left in the half to Clearfield its last lead before the fourth quarter.
Nartatez’s jumper broke the fourth tie (22-22) of the second period and he added a tip-in and a free throw to send the Mounties on their way to a 30-26 halftime lead.
“We got up early and they outhustled us the first half,” Campman said. “They definitely outhustled us to loose balls, to offensive rebounds. We didn’t stop the ball and they got to the basket.”
The Bisons squared matters after three quarters, 40-40, with Myers flipping in eight points before netting the first six points of the fourth period.
“He played a great three-and-a-half quarters and fouled their two big guys out of the game,” Campman said, noting the Bisons had trouble getting the ball to him in the waning minutes. “A couple of times, we just didn’t get the same results we had most of the game.”
Jack Mellgard added 10 points for the Bisons, who were 21-for-42 from the field and outrebounded the Mounties 26-22 but had 26 turnovers.
“You just can’t win with 26 turnovers,” Campman stated. “So, it was tough.
“You’ve gotta give Philipsburg credit. They probably played one of their better games of the year. They played hard the whole game.
“They were a team that matched our speed, and we didn’t cover well defensively. They moved the ball, and we didn’t rotate well.
“The way we play sort of brings out the best efforts, sometimes, of a lot of teams. It was a good win for them.”
Clearfield, which ended its first season in the ML 2-8 in the division and 4-12 overall, will pull down the curtain on the regular season with home games against District 9 Class AAA rivals St. Marys Monday and Punxsutawney Wednesday.
Philipsburg-Osceola came out on top 38-35 in the junior varsity. Trey Jordan’s nine points were high for Clearfield.
CLEARFIELD — 57
Beau Swales 1 0-0 2, Curtis Frye 1 1-2 3, Andrew Redden 0 2-2 2, Jack Mellgard 3 3-4 10, Robbie Myers 12 6-9 30, Derek Morgan 1 0-0 2, Christian Lezzer 3 1-3 8, Vaughn Metz 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 21 13-20 57.
PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA — 63
Cody Curtis 5 2-5 13, Buddy Jones 3 0-3 6, Alan Mills 1 2-3 4, Ryan Nartatez 6 11-14 26, Trey Siegfried 0 0-0 0, Mark Curtis 1 2-4 4, Cole Curtis 3 3-5 9, Robbie Smith 0 0-0 0, Erie Nartatez 0 0-0 0, McKnight 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 19 20-34 63.
Three-Point Field Goals – Clearfield 2 (Mellgard, Lezzer); Philipsburg-Osceola 5 (Cody Curtis, R. Nartatez 3, M. Curtis).
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Clearfield 13 13 14 17 – 57
Philipsburg-Osceola 15 15 10 23 – 63
Officials – Lee Martell, Marvin Martell and Chris Sherkel.