CURWENSVILLE — The Curwensville Area High School girls basketball team makes its first appearance in the Allegheny Mountain League’s inter-division championship playoffs Friday night, and the Lady Tide faces a stern test less than 24 hours after going against rival Clearfield.
As the South Division’s No. 2 seed by virtue of a tie-breaker, the Lady Tide must go on the road to tangle with North Division champ Elk County Catholic in a 7 p.m. tip-off.
The Lady Crusaders (17-5) finished 9-1 to beat out Kane (8-2) and Johnsonburg (7-3) for division laurels, and they are coming off Tuesday’s 58-49 victory over District 9 League champion Bradford (18-2), which had won 15 games in a row.
Coach Rusty McCracken said the combination of the atmosphere in the ECC gym and the Lady Crusader pressure defense means the Lady Tide must play their best game of the season to advance to Saturday night’s AML title game at St. Marys Area High School.
“It’ll be rocking in there,” he said. “They’ll be pressing us both full court and half court. We have to be ready for whatever they throw at us. Keeping our turnovers down will be a key factor.”
Rebounding will be important, too, he added.
“We’re gonna have to do a good job of boxing out,” he said.
Making that even more of a task for the Lady Tide will be the absence of senior post Katrina Seaburn, who will be in Florida for a national baton twirling competition.
Seaburn leads the team in rebounding while averaging 10.5 points, No. 3 behind Ciara Strickland’s 13.0 and Becca Johnson’s 11.2.
McCracken indicated either Tierra Shope or Kealy Wassil, who has been nursing an ankle injury, will get the call to join Strickland, Johnson, Tiffany Carter and Heather Thorp in the starting lineup.
Curwensville, 9-12 for its regular season finale with Clearfield, played Elk County Catholic even for three quarters, but a 17-4 second period was the difference in a 53-38 Lady Crusader win on January 16.
Seaburn led the Lady Tide with 10 points, while Johnson netted nine, Carter and Shope six apiece and Strickland five.
For the Lady Crusaders, Kristie Hanes had a game-high 15 points, including a trio of three-pointers. Taylor DaCanal scored nine and Julia Sweeney and Macy Neureiter added seven apiece.
“We have to close out on Haines, but they have an inside threat with DaCanal,” McCracken said. “They try to throw over the top of the zone to get the ball in deep to their big girls.
“They don’t always score a lot of points, but they look to control the ball.”
The teams boast similar offensive numbers, the Lady Tide with a 45.8 average and the Lady Crusaders at 45.3.
Defensively, there is a considerable difference. Elk County surrenders an average of 34.8 points to Curwensville’s 42.8.
South Division champ DuBois Central Catholic (9-13) will host Kane (18-4) in the other semifinal.
Curwensville tied Brockway (7-12) at 4-6 in the South, with overall winning percentage sending the Lady Tide into the league playoffs.