HYDE — The final home game of the season meant honoring those who put in four years of effort, dedication, and time into the Lady Bison basketball program. It meant no more lacing up the Nike shoes on the hardwood of the Bison Gym, no more pre-game music, and no more roar to get things pumped up.
Clearfield’s final home game of the season came Friday night, where they welcomed in the Lady Rams of Penns Valley.
The seniors, and the entire team, gave the Clearfield faithful a lot to cheer about on a chilly night. Through one quarter, the home squad kept it close. At halftime, it was even closer. After three quarters, no real favorite could be determined. Clearfield and Penns Valley never yielded.
But, the fourth quarter doomed one of the two squads. For Clearfield, the pace and speed they played with all game long was matched by Penns Valley. But in the fourth quarter, that speed began to cost them possessions, and opportunities. In the end, Penns Valley took advantage of turnovers, turning them into points, which ultimately gave them the 42-31 victory, a score that did not show how close the game really was.
Lady Bison head coach Joey Castagnolo afterwards discussed the entire game’s pace, especially the final quarter where his team began falling behind.
“We had some crucial possessions that we didn’t get anything out of. With a team just as quick as us, we’re in trouble,” he said. “They (Penns Valley) executed some nice plays, got some points, then we come down, turn the ball over and miss some foul shots.
“That’s what happens, and suddenly you’re going from down one (point) to down eight. I think the kids realized that tonight, and the kids realized they have to take more pride in their possessions.”
Both teams had issues through most of the game in scoring. After one quarter it was only 14-12 in favor of the Lady Rams, but the second quarter saw neither team show who really had an edge. The two squads combined for only 11 points in the stanza, with Penns Valley holding a 19-18 edge into the break. In the third quarter, it was more of the same, but Clearfield pulled even at the final buzzer, 25-25, and had possession to start the final frame.
At the same time, during that quarter, Castagnolo had concern as early in the going, play on the court got physical. It got so physical that his lead player, Alayna Ryan, took a nasty spill on a charge foul.
Ryan laid on the court for several seconds while Castagnolo and training staff came to check on her. His sophomore got up on her own, but spent a few minutes at the training table getting her shoulder worked on. It wasn’t until a time out by Penns Valley that Ryan got back in the team huddle, and shortly after back on the court.
To say Castagnolo had concern when Ryan went out was a mild understatement. When asked if he was worried, his reply was swift.
“Always! She has the ball 90 percent of the time. She has to be out there, but she’s just one tough little kid. But, I’m always concerned,” Castagnolo said. “She’s not big in size, so I certainly get worried.”
Ryan got back in the game, but the play of the entire Lady Bison team began to falter in the fourth quarter. Penns Valley began pressuring on the perimeter, preventing Clearfield from penetrating the paint, and when they were able to, baskets were not going in. What made it harder for the Lady Bison was when those shots didn’t go in, yet fouls were called, the free throw attempts never went in. Clearfield finished shooting 12-for-63 from the floor, and only shot 6-for-15 from the line.
Penns Valley did not fair much better on the floor, finishing 14-for-50, but it was at the charity stripe that made a major difference, as the Lady Rams finished 13-for-15 at the line.
“Excellent team defense (by Penns Valley). The score really doesn’t indicate how close the game was. They just don’t miss their foul shots,” Castagnolo said. “Against excellent teams, we need excellent possessions.”
The fourth quarter really made a big difference on one basket. With Penns Valley up by one, Kourtney Bramensdefer got a look from behind the arc at the left post. Neither team had success from deep range all game long, but that one basket found the net. The score went from 29-28, in favor of Clearfield, to 31-29 in favor of Penns Valley. At that moment, the lead would not change hands again, as Penns Valley went on a 9-0 run to put the game out of reach.
Castagnolo was asked by the radio if his team began getting tired in the final quarter, and reiterated his feeling when interviewed after.
“I don’t think so. I really don’t think so, and Coach Wood thought the same thing,” he said. “I think we played well all game long, it was just those missed opportunities that cost us.”
Penns Valley led all scoring when Bella Culver drained the game-high 12 points, while Peyton Homan accounted for 10 boards on the night. For Clearfield, Brooke Cline accounted for nine points, while both Ryan and Ally Lindstrom netted eight points a piece.
Castagnolo knew his team played hard, leaving everything on the court, but to see the effort from his two seniors, Lindstrom and Nikki Chew, he couldn’t be happier, especially with the success they have seen this season.
“I cannot say enough about my seniors. Chew is a team leader; the heart and soul of our team. She scraps for everything, and Ally, she plays her heart out. She sure does have the determination,” he said.
The opening junior varsity game went the way of the Lady Rams as well, winning by a final of 43-17.
With an 11-9 record, the final pair of games of the season become even more important than they were going into Friday night. Castagnolo quickly made it clear that neither game will be an easy one to take victory in, especially since the two teams they face, Philipsburg-Osceola and Curwensville, played Clearfield extremely close in the two prior games in the season, with Clearfield winning both by a combined four points. Now, Clearfield must travel to both schools to sweep both series.
“(They are) two very crucial games. We beat P-O by three here, and they had the last shot. We beat Curwensville by one, and they had the last shot,” he said. “Anything can happen on the road; we just have to come out and play hard.”
He also was looking ahead to the post-season, as he already has an idea of who the opponent will likely be, the Lady Dutch of St. Mary’s. But, what he wants to ensure is that his team does not have to travel anymore unless it means advancing to a neutral site.
“I just want to have a better record than them (St. Mary’s) so that we have a home game. The girls deserve it,” he said.
Clearfield will travel to P-O on Tuesday, with tip off coming at 6 p.m. for the junior varsity game. Varsity will follow.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Penns Valley 14 5 6 17 – 42
Clearfield 12 6 7 6 – 31
Penns Valley – 42
Butler 1 0-0 2, Culver 4 4-4 12, Kubalak 2 1-1 5, Bramensdefer 2 1-2 5, Homan 1 0-0 2, Brown 0 0-0 0, Andrus 2 4-4 8, Montminy 2 3-4 7. TOTALS 16 13-15 42.
Clearfield – 31
Brossard 1 0-0 2, Chew 1 0-0 2, CLine 4 1-2 9, Ryan 4 0-2 8, Lindstrom 1 6-11 8, Miller 1 0-1 2. TOTALS 12 6-15 31.
Three-Point Baskets: Bramensdefer
Lady Bison Scoreboard:
|12/09&10||@ Brookville Tip-off Tourney|
|12/09||vs. Clarion-Limestone||64 – 22||1 – 0|
|12/10||vs. North Clarion||39 – 51||1 – 1|
|12/14||@ Central||24 – 64||1 – 2|
|12/16||HUNTINGDON||43 – 35||2 – 2|
|12/19||BELLEFONTE||52 – 55||2 – 3|
|12/21||@ Tyrone||47 – 65||2 – 4|
|12/23||DUBOIS||52 – 45||3 – 4|
|12/28||CURWENSVILLE||52 – 51||4 – 4|
|01/03||@ Punxsutawney||33 – 50||4 – 5|
|01/06||BALD EAGLE AREA||46 – 27||5 – 5|
|01/09||BROOKVILLE||45 – 25||6 – 5|
|01/10||@ Penns Valley||ppd.||6 – 5|
|01/13||PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA||58 – 55||7 – 5|
|01/16||ST. MARYS||34 – 27||8 – 5|
|01/18||CENTRAL||23 – 36||8 – 6|
|01/20||@ Huntingdon||55 – 52||9 – 6|
|01/23||@ Bellefonte||39 – 34||10 – 6|
|01/25||@ Penns Valley||38 – 53||10 – 7|
|01/27||TYRONE||48 – 71||10 – 8|
|02/01||@ Bald Eagle Area||49 – 42||11 – 8|
|02/03||PENNS VALLEY||31 – 42||11 – 9|