HYDE — Last year’s Clearfield Bison basketball squad saw Will Myers eclipse the 1000-point mark, and watch this year as he continueshis quest to become the all-time leader in points. But, teammate Tommy Hazel was looking to do the same. He was close, with every basket meaning that milestone becoming a reality.
At the same time, the entire Bison squad helped achieve a one-loss season entering Wednesday night’s action at the Bison Gymnasium. The focus for the team wasn’t about making another teammate hit a career-defining moment. Instead it was just to go 1-0 on the night, and continue the quest towards another championship.
This occasion saw the Red Raiders of Bellefonte make the trip down the interstate and Rt. 879 to do battle, hoping to get retribution on the loss Clearfield handed them early in the season.
Clearfield not only ensured that wasn’t happening, but did so in grand style.
Every player contributed when they stepped on the court, dishing the ball and playing in an unselfish manner. Hazel got his moment, eclipsing the 1000-point mark, and did so before the halftime break. For the Bison, it was a walk in the park in a 73-40 victory, a game that ended under the Mercy Rule.
Coach Nate Glunt afterwards talked about Hazel, and admitted heading into the game there was a good chance his senior was going to reach that threshold. But, also said entering the game, Hazel was stressing, and it almost made him play better.
“He had the plan. I told him before the game to not worry about his points. All he had to to was focus on every shot. and he said it was stressing him out, Glunt said. “I said, ‘Tommy, you’re handling this so well.’ He came out and scored 31 points the last game, then 18 tonight in the first half.
“I’m just so proud of him. That’s a credit to his work ethic. He just has to keep continue to work and get better every day, and I know he will.”
Early on, Clearfield found themselves down 7-4 to Bellefonte thanks to some key baskets in the paint. But, Hazel evened the score on a bucket plus the ensuing free throw to tie things up. At that point, Clearfield went to work. When David McKenzie scored the next basket, the Bison never lost the lead. Hazel and McKenzie started a 12-2 run to finish the first quarter, giving them a comfortable cushion entering the second stanza.
The second quarter ultimately was all about Hazel.
Evan Brown did his job, scoring nine of his game-high 20 points in the frame. But it was one three-point shot that mattered.
On a possession following a Bellefonte score, Hazel was tossed the ball on the left post. At that moment, his career total was 997 points. Hazel worked to the top of the key, and Glunt could be heard yelling “Look for the shot, Tommy.” The chance came from behind the arc, and he took it.
The ball sailed high, and the landing was nothing but net. The buzzer was sounded, and with 1:16 remaining in the second quarter, Hazel put his name in the record books.
After a minor celebration among teammates, plus a standing ovation from the crowd, Hazel got back to business, adding a pair of assists to Brown and McKenzie to end the quarter. Hazel’s milestone night ended with a double-double, finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists.
Glunt spoke afterwards about his team’s play for the entire game, and how they fed off the success each was having.
“I thought Evan played a great first half, and Will played a great first half. I thought our individuals all played some of their best games, which helped our team play so well. That was one of our better games,” he said. “Bellefonte came in on a roll; they beat Huntingdon, Penns Valley, lost a close one to Jersey Shore on a buzzer-beater. They play well, and to play like we did, I’m really proud.
“We shot the ball well. And they were good shots. I think we defended their big guy (Rockey) well. In the first half he was getting his touches, but then we got the ball out of his hands. When we play good defense, we play good offense.”
Clearfield continued the momentum they earned in the first half in the third quarter. Brown’s best quarter shooting the ball assisted in a 21-8 margin in the third frame, but it was his dish to Ryan Chew that made the game out of reach not just in scoring, but in time. The basket came with 2:30 remaining in the quarter, but it made the score 64-24, and at that moment meant the remainder of the game would use a running clock with the exception of time outs and free throws.
None of the starters for Clearfield played the fourth quarter, but the underclassmen all played hard in the final frame, which made Glunt extremely happy.
“Great minutes (from the bench). Chew is a menace as a defender. (Ethan) McGinnis came in and played the game of his life,” Glunt said.
The night started with a highly contested, and sloppy, junior varsity game that Bellefonte won by a score of 48-37.
For Glunt, he knew this night was about Hazel, and what it meant to him and the team to have another 1000-point player on the roster. And even mentioned he felt the team knew tonight was the night, especially because of where they were at.
“They knew it was coming. We had a great energy in pre-game, plus it’s nice to play at home. We’ve had so many road games, it’s just nice to be home.
Hazel afterwards reflected back on his game and how his focus changed once it became time to tip-off, stating “I didn’t really think about it much. I just came out and played. My teammates got me the ball, and I think they wanted me to get it too, so that helped.”
However, as big as it was, Hazel knew there was a bigger picture that occurred in the game, and it wasn’t him reaching 1000 points.
“It was important, but I don’t think that’s the most important thing that happened,” Hazel said. “I think it’s winning that is most important.”
At 15-1, Clearfield has six games remaining in the season. Coming up this Friday, Clearfield is on the road at Tyrone. Glunt said afterwards that game could be the one that decides who wins the Mountain League title. Back on December 22, Clearfield defeated the Golden Eagles, 65-40, at home. Now, the return contest has more meaning.
“We have three Mountain League games left. They (Tyrone) have two losses, we have one. That is going to be a huge game,” Glunt said.
Tip-off is at 6 p.m. for junior varsity, with the varsity contest to follow.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Bellefonte 9 9 8 14 – 40
Clearfield 19 26 21 7 – 73
Bellefonte – 40
Armstrong 1 2-2 4, Polosky 0 0-0 0, Tice 1 0-0 3, Deitrich 1 1-1 3, McClelland 0 0-0 0, Fortney 1 0-0 2, McCartney 2 2-2 6, Kreger 2 0-0 4, Nadalsky 5 0-0 10, Rockey 4 0-1 8, Mcthley 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 17 5-6 40.
Clearfield – 73
Lynch 1 0-0 2, McGinnis 2 0-0 4, Walker 1 0-0 3, Gates 0 0-0 0, Brown 8 1-2 20, Wilson 0 0-0 0, Lazauskas 0 0-0 0, Hess 0 0-0 0, Porter 0 0-0 0, McKenzie 4 0-0 9, Hazel 8 1-1 18, Wagner 0 0-0 0, Myers 5 1-2 14, Chew 1 0-0 3. TOTALS 30 3-5 73.
Three-Point Shots: Tice; Walker, Brown (3), McKenzie, Hazel, Wagner, Myers (3), Chew
|12/09||@ Curwensville||81 – 38||1 – 0|
|12/13||CENTRAL||53 – 41||2 – 0|
|12/16||@ Huntingdon||68 – 51||3 – 0|
|12/19||@ Bellefonte||56 – 33||4 – 0|
|12/22||TYRONE||65 – 40||5 – 0|
|12/29&30||Purchase Line Christmas Tourney|
|12/29||vs. Northern Cambria||82 – 23||6 – 0|
|12/30||vs. Purchase Line||65 – 45||7 – 0|
|01/03||@ Brookville||83 – 59||8 – 0|
|01/06||@ Bald Eagle Area||73 – 30||9 – 0|
|01/09||@ Central||46 – 57||9 – 1|
|01/11||PENNS VALLEY||ppd.||9 – 1|
|01/12||PENNS VALLEY||51 – 34||10 – 1|
|01/13||@ Philipsburg-Osceola||75 – 28||11 – 1|
|01/19||CLARION-LIMESTONE||82 – 48||12 – 1|
|01/20||HUNTINGDON||67 – 54||13 – 1|
|01/23||@ DuBois||62 – 47||14 – 1|
|01/25||BELLEFONTE||73 – 40||15 – 1|
|01/31||BALD EAGLE AREA|
|02/03||@ Penns Valley|