HYDE — In what has been a week with heartbreak, but comebacks, the hardwood inside the Bison Gymnasium was itching for some action once more from the Bison cagers. But even before the opening tip, the outside influences almost changed everything for both Clearfield, and the visiting Penns Valley Rams. The heavy rain that worked into the area seemed to have worked into the gym.
During warm-ups, the dry mops were being used on the foul lines as it seemed the roof was having a slight leak. Head coach Nate Glunt even took a moment to the media, and scoring table, that a possibility of moving into the Arthur J. Weiss Gymnasium on the opposite side of the school was possible.
Luckily, that never happened, but what was upcoming certainly was not expected.
Neither squad for the first 16 minutes had rhythm, but instead a lot of blues, and missed opportunities. When the first half ended 10-4 in favor of Penns Valley, it seemed more like a football game at the Bison Sports Complex was taking place, and fans were confused, and wondering what was coming. Could either team make something happen in the final two quarters?
It seemed Clearfield took that to heart, because much like Penn State last year for the latter part of their football season, the Bison were a completely different team in the second half.
After trailing by six entering halftime, the home squad burst out with a dominant third quarter, and never looked back, evening their record at .500 with an impressive 40-28 triumph over the Rams.
For Glunt, it was the play after halftime that made the biggest difference, and not only changed the aspect of the game, but also the attitude of his team.
“We played good defense. I thought our energy was way better in the third quarter. Our defense led to our offense. We needed to hit a few shots to make us feel better,” he said. “(Ryan) Chew had a couple three’s, Jonny (Gates) had a three. Taye (Lynch) was all over the place, Reese (Wilson) on the boards. It was a great job by the kids battling back.”
The first half for both squads seemed to be one that neither wanted to get a groove going. After one quarter, it was an 8-2 score in favor of the Rams, thanks to a pair of threes by Logan Snyder.
In the second quarter, it was even less exciting, as neither squad had a score until nearly two minutes remained in the half. When teams went into the locker room, Clearfield was looking at a 10-4 deficit, finishing the first two quarters just 2-for-17 from the floor.
“I take responsibility of how we played in the first half. That’s my fault, and it won’t happen again,” Glunt said. “I challenged the kids at halftime, telling them ‘Listen, you gotta play mad.'”
That certainly seemed to get through because right away, the way Clearfield was playing in the opening minutes was opposite of how the first half ended. The defense was pressing up on Penns Valley, immediately forcing turnovers, which led to a pair of buckets from both the post and baseline beyond the arc from Wilson, cutting the lead to a single basket. Jared Kines answered with a basket to push the score to a two-possession gap.
After that, Clearfield dialed up the aggression, but it was smart aggression.
Wilson was the one starting the charge, but it was Chew that made the two baskets that mattered the most, a pair of contested layups that put Clearfield on top, and forcing Penns Valley to call a timeout to regroup.
Defensively, even after both teams reentered the court, Clearfield found a way to get under the skin of Penns Valley, forcing turnovers and poor decisions, which led to even more scoring from the Bison. Gates nailed his lone deep shot on the night, but it was Cade Walker that made the most impact. A couple of highly contested layups, including one that bounced four times on the rim before meeting the net, got Glunt, the team, and the crowd roaring as Clearfield finished the quarter with 21 points, and shot 75 percent from the field.
“We didn’t want them (Penns Valley) to reverse the ball. They were just running the same three-man action, and without a shot clock, they could do that for days,” Glunt said. “You make one mental error, they were working to the basket. We decided we weren’t going to let them push the basketball. That got us some steals, Chew had two unbelievable layups. Just really proud.
“Reese, Chew, and Taye, all those guys were in the game. I didn’t want to sub at all, because they were playing so well together. I told Cade ‘You gotta play angry.’ When he does that, he’s physical. He just said ‘I’m getting the ball. I’m tired of this.'”
Wilson finished the night with a game-high 15 points, with six boards. Walker led in rebounds with eight, as Clearfield doubled-up the rebounds compared to Penns Valley, 31-15.
By the time the final quarter began, Clearfield was rolling, and continued to put the pressure on, playing with some aggressiveness that has been lacking this season according to Glunt. But what helped fuel the team even more was seeing the crowd get behind them after the tough first half. Glunt credits that to the support he, and his staff, have given the kids over the last several years.
“What a crowd here. For the weather that’s coming, I thought we’d have a Penn State basketball crowd. The place was packed, the student section was loud,” he said. “We get that energy. What a fun environment.”
Clearfield couldn’t pull off a sweep, losing the opening jayvee game in a close 31-29 contest.
Glunt felt confident in his team heading into the second half of the season because of what the team experienced this week, with losing to Punxsutawney on Monday, then rebounding back to beat Bald Eagle, and then overcoming a rough start to win against Penns Valley. He felt the team was coming together, and realizing their identity.
“We learned our lesson at Punxsutawney, and how we are to rebound. That’s the thing with these kids. They are inexperienced, but are developing that confidence,” Glunt said. “We had a 15-point lead against Tyrone in the first half. We’ve had 0 games. Nine out of 10 games, we’ve had a lead at halftime. Eight out of the 10, we’ve had double digit leads, but we just had little confidence and it cost us.
“Tonight, we didn’t turn the ball over, had great energy on defense, and it fed our offense.”
Clearfield (5-5) is on the road all next week beginning on Monday against Clarion-Limestone. Tip for the varsity game will be approximately 7:15 following the jayvee contest.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Penns Valley 8 2 7 11 – 28
Clearfield 2 2 21 15 – 40
Penns Valley – 28
Snyder 3 1-2 9, Kines 1 2-2 4, Breon 0 0-0 0, Ripka 0 2-2 2, Remig 0 0-0 0, Zimmerman 0 0-0 0, Long 0 0-0 0, Narber 0 0-0 0, Fisher 0 0-0 0, A. Tobias 0 1-2 1, Shaffer 3 4-6 10, M. Tobias 1 0-0 2, Martin 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 8 10-14 28.
Clearfield – 40
Lynch 1 0-0 2, Kline 0 0-0 0, Hess 0 0-0 0, Walker 4 3-4 11, Lezzer 0 0-0 0, Gates 1 0-0 3, Wilson 4 5-7 15, Chew 4 0-0 8, Rumsky 0 0-0 0, Lopez 0 0-0 0, Porter 0 1-2 1. TOTALS 14 9-13 40.
Three-Point Shots: Snyder (2)/Wilson (2), Gates
Officials: John Thompson, Steve Searer, Jeff Heider
|12/08||CURWENSVILLE||54 – 52||1 – 0|
|12/13||CENTRAL||45 – 56||1 – 1|
|12/15||@ Huntingdon||62 – 85||1 – 2|
|12/20||@ Bellefonte||50 – 41||2 – 2|
|12/28||@ Purchase Line Christmas Tourney|
|12/28||vs. Harmony||73-31||3 – 2|
|12/29||@ Purchase Line Christmas Tourney|
|12/29||vs. Purchase Line||45 – 56||3 – 3|
|01/05||TYRONE||56 – 63||3 – 4|
|01/08||@ Punxsutawney||54 – 68||3 – 5|
|01/10||@ Bald Eagle Area||56 – 45||4 – 5|
|01/12||PENNS VALLEY||40 – 28||5 – 5|
|02/02||BALD EAGLE AREA|
|02/07||@ Penns Valley|