HYDE — When the Lady Bison of Clearfield took to the court of the Bison Gym on Friday night, they had momentum. Having won three of their last four games, the squad could feel things heading their way. Communication, execution, and perseverance defined what they have done all season. Taking to the court in their throwback home uniforms, Clearfield welcomed in the Lady Red Raiders of Bellefonte hoping to put a winning streak together.
While the snow began falling outside thanks to the winter storm coming into the area, Clearfield came out determined, but suddenly found themselves in a familiar place: battling from behind. After one quarter, turnovers and missed shots put them on the wrong end of the scoreboard.
But they never quit. The team battled back not once, not twice, but on three different occasions. The team wouldn’t give up, nor give in. When the final buzzer went off, Clearfield showed that adversity was not effecting them as they would achieve the 52-43 victory.
“We were sleepwalking in the first quarter, and early in the third,” head coach Joey Castagnolo said afterward. “It was just a ‘refuse to lose’ mentality. We didn’t play well at all in that first quarter, and the kids knew it. What’s nice about these kids is they know when we’re playing lousy.”
After one quarter of play, Clearfield would trail 13-7, not getting on the board until Margo Castagnolo hit three free throws to pull within two possessions.
Durin the second quarter, it all began to change. After going 0-for-7 to start the game, senior Rachel Glenny started to get hot, hitting her final three shots before the break, plus two free throws.
When the first half ended, it was in a sense a new game because just like at tip-off, the teams were even, 21-21.
Glenny would pick up the pace again in the third quarter, scoring another eight of her game-high 20 points in the frame. She would end the night with a double-double as she accounted for 13 rebounds as well.
Castagnolo saw that Glenny was not doing well to start the game, and decided to have her sit for a bit in the opening quarter. Although a tough decision to make, he saw a change once she did go back in.
“I took her out in the first quarter, and she knew I wasn’t pleased. But I think she needed that to collect her thoughts. She plays well, and she plays with a lot of emotion,” Castagnolo said. “I’m so happy with how she played the last three quarters. She got some big rebounds, big steals down there. Everything just clicked late in the third quarter and the fourth.”
It wasn’t pretty in the third quarter for a while as the Red Raiders would get back out front quickly and hold it for a majority of the quarter thanks to the play of Jess Book, who matched Glenny exactly with a 20-point, 13-board performance of her own. Castagnolo called time out to get the team in check.
When the meeting was done, one player for the Bison took control and quickly put Clearfield back out front, ultimately for good. That was senior point guard Emily Ryan.
Ryan would start her run of scoring with a quick bucket, but then later in the quarter she had possibly one of the big breaks in the game that truly put the Bison in the driver’s seat. Ryan would steal the ball at the top of the key from Bellefonte, and went coast-to-coast to extend the lead the Bison had already built. But then she wasn’t done. On the ensuing possession, Ryan would not even wait until Bellefonte crossed mid-court to get yet another steal and take in the easy layup. In a matter of seconds, she scored six of her 12 points, and the momentum was starting to feel like it went to the home team.
“What keyed that was Emily getting more aggressive out front. They were doing an extended foul line dump off in the middle between us all night long,” Castagnolo said. “We made some adjustments, and then when their center got four fouls, that’s when I said ‘Let’s attack’. That’s what led us to six points in about 10 seconds.
“That was the turning point.”
At the end of the third quarter, Clearfield would hold a 39-35 lead. But Bellefonte would not go away. They would go up thanks to a pair of buckets from Mara Drebelbis to get a 40-39 advantage, and Castagnolo called time out to get a plan in place.
The big change in momentum came in the fourth quarter, when the Red Raiders battled back to take that advantage. Ryan was driving down the court, but saw Margo Castagnolo on the baseline wide open. Sensing the opportunity, she bounced the ball to her and the shot was nothing but net. The three-point shot put Clearfield on top by two, and at that point they were out front for good.
“That was a big three, it put us ahead. When you’re ahead, you can play your offense to the tempo of the game. The kids listened, and the kids didn’t get rattled,” Coach Castagnolo said. “Margo hit the three, Emily ran my special play for her, it just all worked.”
Clearfield did fall in the opening jayvee game in a final of 32-28.
Now sitting at 8-9, the Bison have doubled their win total from the previous season, and are 6-4 in the Mountain League. Castagnolo couldn’t believe the turnaround his team has experienced in the last week, as they have won two straight games for the first time this season. But he wasn’t looking back at what has already been accomplished, nor was he looking ahead to what is next. He, along with the team, were enjoying the victory on this night. His final words summed up exactly how he felt.
“What a sweet win,” he said with a smile.
Clearfield has two games scheduled for next week. Wednesday they travel to Tyrone, then return home on Friday to host Bald Eagle.
GAME NOTES: Clearfield would go 15-for-15 from the free throw line, the first time they wouldn’t miss a foul shot all season; Teams would share near identical statistics in shooting and in rebounds; Emily Ryan would lead Clearfield in assists with seven; Friday night was a second “throwback” night as the Lady Bison would wear their classic look uniforms. Clearfield is 1-1 in their throwback uniforms.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Bellefonte 13 8 14 8 – 43
Clearfield 7 14 18 13 – 52
Yeager 0 0-0 0, Broni 1 0-0 2, Dreibelbis 3 0-0 7, Dorn 1 0-0 3, Greger 0 0-0 0, McCartney 3 0-0 6, Young 2 1-2 5, Book 8 4-5 20. TOTALS 18 5-7 43.
Castagnolo 1 3-3 6, Lindstrom 4 0-0 8, Cline 2 2-2 6, A. Ryan 0 0-0 0, E. Ryan 6 0-0 12, Glenny 5 10-10 20, Brossard 0 0-0 0, Chew 0 0-0 0, Lansberry 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 18 15-15 52.
Three-Point Shots: Dorn, Dreibelbis/Castagnolo
Lady Bison Scoreboard:
Date Opponent Score Record
12/04&05 @ Brookville Tip-off Tourney
12/04 vs. North Clarion 45 – 50 0 – 1
12/05 vs. Clarion-Limestone 64 – 24 1 – 1
12/08 CENTRAL 41 – 52 1 – 2
12/11 @ Huntingdon 41 – 28 2 – 2
12/14 @ DuBois 40 – 51 2 – 3
12/16 @ Bellefonte 48 – 47 3 – 3
12/18 TYRONE 40 – 66 3 – 4
12/21 BROOKVILLE 50 – 59 3 – 5
12/29 @ Curwensville 63 – 24 4 – 5
01/04 PUNXSUTAWNEY 43 – 55 4 – 6
01/05 @ Bald Eagle Area 53 – 40 5 – 6
01/08 PENNS VALLEY 42 – 70 5 – 7
01/13 @ Philipsburg-Osceola 42 – 38 6 – 7
01/15 @ Central 26 – 51 6 – 8
01/18 @ St. Marys 30 – 32 6 – 9
01/19 HUNTINGDON 47 – 34 7 – 9
01/22 BELLEFONTE 52 – 43 8 – 9
01/27 @ Tyrone
01/29 BALD EAGLE AREA
02/02 @ Penns Valley