HYDE — What had been a close, see-saw scrap turned sour for the Clearfield Area High School boys basketball team midway through the third quarter when Tyrone initiated a 16-2 run that enabled the Mountain League co-leaders to escape Weiss Gym with a 61-52 victory Tuesday night.
Standout guard Brandon Gripp, the lone returning starter and one of three returning letterwinners from last season’s 22-4 ML championship team, poured in 28 points as the Golden Eagles weathered the Bison’s 7-1 start and capitalized on eight Bison turnovers in a five-minute span to remain in a first-place tie at 5-0 with Bald Eagle Area.
Clearfield’s offense was a two-man show with Christian Lezzer firing in 24 points and Trey Jordan fueling a furious late-game comeback with 13 of his 21 points.
After assisting on baskets by Jordan and Jon Janocko, Lezzer swished a three-pointer from the top of the circle to give the Bison their biggest lead three minutes after the tip-off.
Gripp, who now has scored at least 28 points five times for a 25.0 average, quickly changed the flow of the game with soft jumpers from the left corner and left wing against the Clearfield zone.
And the back-and-forth duel between the two juniors was on.
Gripp’s third trey late in the quarter offset Lezzer’s second jumper from behind the arc that broke the 7-7 tie.
Tyrone (6-2) also got a pair of free throws from Gripp and led 13-10 at the turn.
The lead changed hands four times in the second period, Clearfield (3-7, 1-4 ML) staying in it though Jordan sat out the final 6:34 of the half because of three personal fouls.
At intermission, the Golden Eagles were clinging to a 24-23 edge behind Gripp’s 15 points.
Lezzer had collected a dozen for the Bison.
“I thought we were in pretty good shape coming out of halftime,” Clearfield coach Forrest Campman said. “Our game plan was to not let Gripp get a shot, so we hadn’t done what we were supposed to there. You can’t leave him. But, we’re down only one point.”
The Bison did a better job on Gripp at the outset of the second half, and the Bison inched in front, 29-28, as Lezzer canned a 17-foot jumper and cashed a feed from Jordan, who popped a jumper in the lane with 4:48 left in the third quarter for Clearfield’s fourth, and last, lead.
In the next 6:51, Clearfield’s only points came on another Jordan jumper. Eight of 10 possessions during the helter-skelter tempo ended without a shot attempt.
“I don’t have the answer, but we go through probably a quarter of mass hysteria sometime during every game,” Campman lamented. “You would think (the opponents) have 12 guys on defense the way we throw the ball around. It happens whether we’re winning or losing. We just keep multiplying our errors very fast in a short period of time.
“That’s hard to recover from.”
Gripp fueled Tyrone’s surge with a three-pointer and two lay-ups on fast breaks. The Golden Eagles also got a tough putback by Jake Belinda and a three-point play by Wyatt Fowler to carry a 40-31 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Two more takeaways resulted in lay-ups for Jordan Miller, who finished with 11 points.
Lezzer halted the Golden Eagle run with the third of his four three-pointers, but Gripp’s short baseline jumper and Fowler’s two free throws gave the visitors their biggest lead, 48-34, with 3:33 to go.
The Bison didn’t go away, though.
Jordan began to assert himself with drives through the lane and stepped to the charity stripe on three consecutive trips, sinking five of six foul shots.
A trey from the left corner by Lezzer and seven points by Jordan, including a long triple, got Clearfield to within six, 56-50, with 1:16 to play.
“We played solid defense on those possessions where we caused problems for them,” Campman said. “I thought we got them playing at a speed they didn’t want to play, which was to our advantage.”
However, Miller made a trio of free throws and Gripp fed Miller for an easy bucket to seal it for the Golden Eagles.
“Eliminate midway through the third quarter to two minutes into the fourth quarter, and we played them even, or better,” Campman said. “They’re not a great team, but there’s a reason they were 5-2 coming in.”
The Bison actually had a great night in the shooting department, 18-for-36 for 50 percent, but 21 turnovers and too few rebounds proved costly. The Golden Eagles had a 27-18 advantage under the boards.
Campman did note the positives in Clearfield’s third loss in a row.
“Lezzer shot the ball extremely well and, I thought, hustled well in the second half, and Jordan has been scoring all year,” he said. “Jordan’s really hard to stop because he’s such an athletic kid going to the basket.
“And Janocko gave us a decent stretch offensively in the first half. He got to the basket a few times.
“We’re just going to work to get better the rest of the year. That’s all you can do.”
Tyrone won the junior varsity game 45-20. Erik Sellers was high for Clearfield with seven points.
Clearfield’s next game is against Penns Valley at Spring Mills Friday. The Rams owned a share of the ML lead before falling to BEA, 57-28, Tuesday.
TYRONE — 61
Erik Wagner 1 1-2 3, Brandon Gripp 9 6-7 28, Wyatt Fowler 2 3-3 7, Jordan Miller 4 3-4 11, Dalton McKeehen 1 0-0 2, Lake Ingle 0 1-2 1, Jake Belinda 2 0-0 4, Anthony Politza 0 2-2 2, Nathaniel Soellner 1 0-0 3, Preston Mitchell 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 20 16-20 61.
CLEARFIELD — 52
Christian Lezzer 9 2-4 24, Seth Beardsley 0 2-2 2, Wyatt Westen 0 0-0 0, Trey Jordan 7 6-8 21, Jon Janocko 2 1-2 5, Seth Ford 0 0-0 0, Andy Brown 0 0-0 0, Erik Sellers 0 0-0 0, Kenton Climie 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 18 11-18 52.
Three-Point Field Goals – Tyrone 5 (Gripp 4, Soellner); Clearfield 5 (Lezzer 4, Jordan).
Score by Quarters
Tyrone 13 11 16 21 – 61
Clearfield 10 13 8 21 – 52
Officials – Kenny Knepp, George Schneider and Brian Smeal.
|12/07||CURWENSVILLE||ppd.||0 – 0|
|12/10||CURWENSVILLE||42 – 37||1 – 0|
|12/12||@ Central||29 – 50||1 – 1|
|12/14||HUNTINGDON||55 – 61||1 – 2|
|12/18||@ Bald Eagle Area||50 – 79||1 – 3|
|12/21||@ Bellefonte||51-50 2ot||2 – 3|
|@ PL Lions Club Tourney|
|12/27||vs. Harmony||41 – 48||2 – 4|
|12/28||vs. Purchase Line||85 – 63||3 – 4|
|01/04||PUNXSUTAWNEY||31 – 69||3 – 5|
|01/07||BROOKVILLE||42 – 43||3 – 6|
|01/08||TYRONE||52 – 61||3 – 7|
|01/11||@ Penns Valley|