CURWENSVILLE — A spirited effort by the Curwensville Area High School boys basketball team against reigning District 9 Class A champion and state-ranked Ridgway went for naught because of a lack of rebounding Friday night.
The undefeated Elkers outworked the Golden Tide under the Patton Hall glass throughout the Allegheny Mountain League South Division game to escape with their fourth win, 38-33.
“I can’t fault the kids,” coach Shane Pentz said after the Golden Tide dropped to 1-1 in the league and 2-2 overall. “They played with great effort. They hustled. They didn’t get down on themselves. And we just came up a little bit short against one of the top teams in the district.”
Ridgway, indeed, has become a real Class A force on the hardwood after some lean years.
And, even with returning point guard and No. 2 scorer Josh Roselli out for the season because of a knee injury, the Elkers are showing no signs of backsliding very much after advancing to the last three D9-A title games and winning two while compiling a 73-10 record.
Prior to challenging the No. 7 team in Harrisburg PennLive‘s state rankings, Pentz and his staff emphasized taking care of the ball and pulling down more missed shots.
“We thought if we limited our turnovers and won the rebounding battle, we’d give ourselves a chance,” he said.
The Golden Tide was 1-1 in those key statistics.
Their 21 turnovers in the face of constant pressure were only three more than the Elkers had.
But they were outrebounded 30-15 as Ridgway almost matched Curwensville’s total just on the offensive end.
“We’re fairly happy about turnovers,” Pentz said. “That’s a very, very good defensive team. I thought we handled their pressure pretty well. Most of our turnovers came in the half-court.
“Rebounding, we just got killed. That’s something we’re going to work on, because that should be a strength given our size. Tonight, it definitely wasn’t. Really, that was the difference in the game. They’re too good of a team to give second, third and fourth shots. Eventually, they’re gonna score.”
The Elkers didn’t for the first six minutes though, with the only points a difficult driving layup by Jake Terry and a mid-range jumper by Harrison Bloom giving Curwensville its lone lead.
The Golden Tide showed alot of energy in their 2-3 zone, while the Elkers were content to wind a lot of time off the clock looking for a good shot.
“We actually were gonna play man-to-man, and right before tip-off, we decided to stick with our zone,” Pentz said. “I was just gonna try it one or two times to see how we were moving.
“We were moving good, our hands were up, we were talking, and we were playing defense like we had hoped all year. So, we just stuck with it, and it was successful.”
Neither team could buy a bucket for more than three minutes after Bloom’s jumper.
Then, in the next minute, Ridgway drew even at 6-6 thanks to a jumper by senior standout Jeremy Brier and a three-pointer from the left side by little brother Andy, a freshman.
Curwensville never reclaimed the lead but knotted the score twice early in the second period, which ended with Ridgway on top 19-13.
“There were a couple possessions where we felt we had good shots that normally we knock down, and we didn’t,” Pentz said. “In a two-possession game, those are critical.”
In the third quarter, it was Trey Rauckhorst early and Terry late who kept the Golden Tide close, the latter’s layup off a dandy Quamone Newkirk feed making it 24-23 with 1:16 left.
Ben MacDonald’s foul line jumper gave the Elkers a 26-23 advantage going to the final eight minutes, and they made it a much more comfortable 31-23 lead when Mitchell Stark sank a three-pointer and, after a Golden Tide turnover, Neil MacDonald scored on a fast break in an 18-second sequence.
“It went from three to eight pretty quickly,” Pentz said. “Those five points in that time frame, that’s your final.”
The Golden Tide was unable to reduce the margin to less than seven points in the fourth quarter, with the Elkers cashing free throws to gain their biggest lead at 37-26 with 1:10 remaining.
Jeremy Breier paced the Elkers with 13 points, four fewer than he averaged as the leading scorer last season.
Ridgway, which had been scoring at a 51-point clip, was held to 12 field goals.
“Defensively, we easily played our best game of the year,” Pentz said. “We just have to get better rebounding out of it now.”
Terry earned game high honors with 15 points, mostly by knifing to the basket.
The Golden Tide shot 40.5 percent from the floor but went to the foul line on only two occasions, indicative of how well the Elkers execute their tough defense.
“We’re really happy with the way we played, but there are no moral victories,” Pentz concluded. “It’s really about wins and losses.
“I just hope the kids remember the effort and play that way moving forward.
The Golden Tide will have to if they are to hang with their next two opponents, for they continue to run an early-season gauntlet with home games against Clearfield Monday and West Branch Tuesday. Both rivals are off to 2-0 starts.
In the prelim, Newkirk scored 11 points for the Curwensville junior varsity in a 47-29 loss.
RIDGWAY — 38
Jeremy Breier 4 4-6 13, Ben MacDonald 1 5-8 7, Josh Lineberger 0 1-2 1, Cory Oknefski 2 0-0 4, Nate Steis 0 0-0 0, Andy Breier 3 1-2 7, Mitchell Stark 1 1-2 4, Cody Delhunty 0 0-0 0, Neil MacDonald 1 0-0 2, Justin Kazmierski 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 12 12-20 38.
CURWENSVILLE — 33
Noah Strickland 0 0-0 0, Jake Terry 7 1-1 15, Trey Rauckhorst 3 1-2 7, Harrison Bloom 0 0-0 0, Alex Hill 1 0-0 2, Johnathan Miller 0 0-0 0, R.J. Olson 0 0-0 0, Quamone Newkirk 2 0-0 4, Zach Marshall 0 0-0 0, Curtis Linsenbigler 1 0-0 3. TOTALS: 15 2-3 33.
Three-Point Field Goals – Ridgway 2 (J. Brier, Stark); Curwensville 1 (Linsenbigler).
Score by Quarters
Ridgway 6 13 7 12 – 38
Curwensville 6 7 10 10 – 33
Officials – Dave Gardner and Chris Sherkel.
Golden Tide Scoreboard:
|12/05||@ Mo Valley||41 – 51||0 – 1|
|12/08||@ Brockway||53 – 51||1 – 1|
|12/10||HARMONY||52 – 43||2 – 1|
|12/12||RIDGWAY||33 – 38||2 – 2|
|01/02||@ DuBois Central Catholic|
|01/14||ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC|
|01/19||@ West Branch|
|01/26||DUBOIS CENTRAL CATH|