HYDE — The Arthur J. Weiss Gymnasium is usually a highly competitive floor for the Clearfield Lady Bisons. This year the home court has been exceptionally kind to them as the team worked it’s way to 8-4, with three of their four losses coming on the road. However, the big test up to this point in the season came on Friday night.
The team on the opposing side of the court was the two-loss Lady Eagles of Bald Eagle Area. The two teams started the evening by shaking hands with opposing coaches, team captains, and the starting lineup. By the end of the night, there were a lot of frustrated players, angry expressions, and two coaches that were forced to sit down for part of the game.
The reason for all the frustration was the Lady Bisons built up a big lead in the first half, and despite holding it after the halftime break, began having to take some physical shots from the opposition. Referees stepped in a few times to separate players, but also began calling fouls just as fast as the players were passing the ball. At the end of 32 minutes, despite a total of 31 total fouls called, both teams battled to the very end. But, it was Clearfield on the winning end, handing Bald Eagle it’s first loss since after Christmas with a final of 61-55.
“We took every shot they had, literally and figuratively,” head coach Joey Castagnolo said after the game. “It feels good to beat a 10-2 team, it’s a signature win for us. The team played their hearts out.”
The game started out extremely quick as the two sides exchanged jump shots in the first few minutes. At the end of the first quarter, Clearfield only held an 11-10 advantage. But the second quarter was when the Lady Bisons turned up the tempo and started to assert themselves as the top team on the night.
“All week long we practiced against the 1-3-1 defense, and we just didn’t have that great of a quarter. I pulled Lisa (Ambuski) right there at the end and told her to get comfortable shooting her 3’s, because they will come to her,” Castagnolo said.
Sure enough, he was correct in his prediction. Thanks to some smart ball-handling and quick passes from her teammates, she hit two shots from behind the arc. Ambuski would end the night with 11 points, one of four Lady Bisons to score in double figures.
At the same time, the entire team turned up the heat inside as they doubled-up the Lady Eagles in the quarter, 22-11, to take a 12-point lead heading into halftime. At one point in the quarter, Clearfield had a lead of 15 points, which caused Bald Eagle to make some changes heading out of the break.
“That first half of basketball was picture perfect,” Castagnolo said.
The second half was a completely different tale. Electing to play man-to-man, Bald Eagle began creating a lot of pressure on the starting five, but soon the pressure began to get physical, both on and off the court. In the third quarter alone, 12 fouls were called, including a technical foul on Castagnolo, forcing him to coach while on the bench for the remainder of the game. But, despite the physical nature, Clearfield began to take advantage of the press, finding the long passes, creating turnovers and turning them into points.
At the end of the night, Ambuski, Dakota Farmery, Kristen Butler and Brianna Peters all hit double digit scoring, with Peters having a game-high 18 points. Farmery added another double-double to her career total as she pulled down 18 boards, while Butler also added seven assists.
For Bald Eagle, Melissa Ward topped the scoring with 15 points, while Katelyn Miller added 11 boards.
In the fourth quarter, with Clearfield up 47-38, both sides began feeling a lot more pressure. Late in the going, with Bald Eagle beginning to close the gap, things got physical between BEA’s Lexi Josefik and Clearfield’s point guards. Already having four fouls to her credit at that point, Josefik had a hard foul and also had some jabbering with an official. That drew two fouls, the second being a technical, and not only put her on the bench for the remainder of the game, but because the technical foul happened after her fifth team foul, it was assessed to coach Troy Butterworth. Peters hit the free throws, essentially putting the game out of reach.
Castagnolo had a good reason for the physicality between the two teams, noting a game between the two last season.
“Last year, they mercy ruled us really bad, and we haven’t forgotten about that. I certainly have not,” Castagnolo said. “Tonight, our team just refused to lose. It feels good to beat a 10-2 team.”
The jayvee team did not fair as well as they would fall to BEA in a low scoring 23-17 affair.
Now sitting at 9-4, Castagnolo is excited to see where his team goes from this point.
“I feel we can play with anyone. A game like we saw tonight will make them play with confidence,” Castagnolo said. “They (BEA) are a 10-2 team for a reason.”
Clearfield returns home again coming Tuesday as they will host Huntingdon, the second of three straight home games.
See photos of the game here: http://www.ladybisonsports.org/lbsbball012012.html
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bald Eagle 10 11 17 17 – 55
Clearfield 11 22 14 14 – 61
Bald Eagle 55
Hardy 0 0-0 0, Simpson 1 2-2 4, Barnyak 2 0-0 4, Butterworth 0 0-0 0, Josefik 6 1-6 14, Poorman 0 0-0 0, Ward 6 2-6 15, Gettig 1 1-2 3, Pillot 3 1-3 7, Miller 4 0-0 8, Fisher 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 7-19 55.
Butler 5 1-5 11, Spencer 0 0-0 0, Renaud 0 0-0 0, Munshower 0 0-0 0, Farmery 5 2-4 12, Ambuski 3 2-4 11, Thompsonn 4 1-2 9, Aveni 0 0-0 0, Mumma 0 0-0 0, Peters 6 6-8 18, Sheeder 0 0-0 0, Sopic 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 12-23 61.
Field Goals Made/Attempted: BEA-23/55 CF-23/50
Team Rebounds: BEA-25 CF-30
Team Fouls: BEA-19 CF-12
Turnovers: BEA-17 CF-18
Three-Point Shots: BEA-Josefik, Ward. CF-Ambuski (3)
Foul-Outs: BEA-Josefik. CF-None
Technical Fouls: BEA-Josefik (assessed as bench foul). CF-Castagnolo
Lady Bison Scoreboard:
|12/14||@ Huntingdon||68 – 89||0 – 1|
|12/19||PUNXSUTAWNEY||60-55 2ot||1 – 1|
|12/21||@ Central||46 – 37||2 – 1|
|12/23||@ Bellefonte||55 – 30||3 – 1|
|12/28||@ Curwensville||57 – 38||4 – 1|
|01/04||TYRONE||38 – 47||4 – 2|
|01/06||@ Punxsutawney||55 – 68||4 – 3|
|01/09||BROOKVILLE||63 – 55||5 – 3|
|01/10||PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA||71 – 37||6 – 3|
|01/12||@ DuBois||57 – 45||7 – 3|
|01/14||@ Penns Valley||59 – 45||8 – 3|
|01/17||@ Central Mountain||37 – 50||8 – 4|
|01/20||BALD EAGLE AREA||61 – 55||9 – 4|