HYDE — With little time remaining in the regular season, head coach Joey Castagnolo was ready in the hopes of getting his Lady Bison on a late season run to finish strong, and make a playoff push. Only three games remained, but two of the three were within the Mountain League against strong foes.
The first of those foes made the trip to the Bison Gym on Tuesday night, the Lady Rams of Penns Valley, who already beat Clearfield once this season.
What they didn’t expect was to be stunned through the first half of the game, as the Lady Bison were pushing hard, and fast, and built up a double-digit lead that they held throughout most of the first half. With confidence showing, and things falling the way of the Lady Bison, what happened in the second half suddenly stunned the crowd.
Penns Valley made a charge in the third quarter, almost tripling the points scored compared to Clearfield, and held that momentum down the stretch. Despite a late comeback to tie the game, the Lady Bison fell short of what would be a major upset, falling 46-42 to the Lady Rams.
“I thought we played a great four quarters. Things just didn’t go well for us down the stretch. The girls just left it all on the court. What more can I ask?,” Castagnolo said afterwards. “We made some crucial mistakes with some crucial young kids, and I hope they can learn from it.
“It was a great girls basketball game. What I like most is the fact they overestimated us. We’re pretty tough on our home court. We just were a couple baskets short of a big upset.”
Clearfield had things right in their favor in the first quarter, getting out to a quick 5-2 advantage early, and holding it through the first eight minutes, finishing up 14-6. That was in part to the play of junior Alayna Ryan, who had one of her best overall games of her career. She scored six of her game-high 15 points in the opening quarter, and added another other six in the second. But it was her play away from the basket that made her performance huge. Ryan finished the night on the stat sheet with what could be considered a jackpot, as her stats for steals, rebounds, and assists all came out to seven.
Clearfield at one point held a 21-8 lead on Penns Valley, but the Rams would begin reeling in late in the first quarter, condensing the lead to 27-19 heading into the locker room.
When teams exited the locker room, it was clear the Lady Rams made more adjustments on offense and defense, as they owned the third quarter.
Clearfield’s offense was held to just 3-for-9 shooting in the third quarter, and were out scored 17-6, losing the lead with about a minute remaining.
The Lady Bison had to play a lot of the third quarter without Nikki Brossard, who had four fouls before the fourth quarter, three coming in the first half, so Castagnolo had to keep her on the sidelines to prevent losing her for the critical final stanza.
Penns Valley began the final quarter with the ball, and made it work for them as they extended the lead to 40-33 with just over seven minutes remaining. Quick scores by Jordan Andrus and Emma Butler, who finished tied in game-high points with 15, forced a timeout by Castagnolo.
The timeout helped, as Clearfield began reeling in their opposition once again, ripping off a 7-0 run capped by a three-pointer by Ryan at the post.
The Lady Rams would get the lead back quickly with Hannah Montminy draining a deep three from the baseline to give a three-point advantage back in favor of the visitors. Clearfield’s Brooke Cline answered back with a basket to make it 43-42 with just over a minute to play. But a foul by Brossard put Paige Kubiak at the line, and put Brossard to the bench. She would make the first free throw on the plus-one attempt, but missed the second. With just under 20 seconds to go, Penns Valley called their final timeout, planning strategy on the in-bounds pass after the scrap for the rebound went in their favor.
Ryan put the final foul on the night to put Montminy to the line for her plus-one attempt, which was no sure thing as she was only 1-for-4 heading into the shots. She made the first through the net. Then, as steady as she could be, drained the second, and ultimately put the final nail in the night as the last shot attempt by Megan Durandetta was partially blocked, and time ran out.
Clearfield lost the opening junior varsity game as well in a lopsided 41-11 final.
Now at 7-13, Castagnolo knows time is running out on the season. When asked about if he still was thinking of going to the playoffs at seasons end, he made it clear what needed to happen in order for his team to move on.
“We have to beat Philipsburg. The girls just found out there’s no school tomorrow, so they have a day of rest,” he said. “Alayna and Brooke are just exhausted, they played hard. They all played hard, but they just came up a couple baskets short.”
But, he was not subdued on what he saw on this night, because his team played their hearts out in his eyes, leaving everything they had on the hardwood, and getting production from his entire squad, including the girls who are just getting their first taste of high school action.
“This is a building block. Those girls, my freshman, played eighth-grade basketball last year, and now they’re playing a team that’s 13-5, and the pressure’s on,” Castagnolo said. “It’s all part of the learning experience. It was a great game, we just didn’t win.”
Clearfield’s final Mountain League game is this Friday as they will travel to face rival Philipsburg-Osceola. The Lady Bison won the first game against the Mounties on January 17, 65-58.
Tip off is set for approximately 7:30 p.m.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Penns Valley 6 13 17 10 – 46
Clearfield 14 13 6 9 – 42
Penns Valley – 46
Butler 3 0-0 7, Kubalak 1 5-8 7, Montminy 5 3-6 15, Homan 1 0-0 2, Brown 0 0-0 0, Andrus 4 2-4 11, Well-Shans 2 0-0 4. TOTALS 16 10-18 46.
Clearfield – 42
Durandetta 2 0-0 6, Brossard 0 2-2 2, Cline 6 0-0 13, Ryan 6 2-2 15, Gisewhite 0 0-0 0, Rowles 0 0-0 0, Alt 0 0-0 0, Rhine 0 0-0 0, Miller 3 0-1 6. TOTALS 17 4-5 42.
Three-Point Field Goals: Butler, Montminy (2), Andrus/Durandetta (2), Cline, Ryan
Fouled Outs: Brossard
Lady Bison Scoreboard:
|12/09||@ Brookville Tip-off Tourney|
|12/09||vs. North Clarion||51 – 58||0 – 1|
|12/10||vs. Clarion-Limestone||60 – 19||1 – 1|
|12/13||@ Central||30 – 46||1 – 2|
|12/15||HUNTINGDON||32 – 54||1 – 3|
|12/18||@ Brookville||48 – 65||1 – 4|
|12/19||BELLEFONTE||51 – 42||2 – 4|
|12/22||@ DuBois||36 – 41||2 – 5|
|12/28||@ Curwensville||45 – 15||3 – 5|
|01/03||PUNXSUTAWNEY||24 – 41||3 – 6|
|01/05||@ Tyrone||ppd.||3 – 6|
|01/09||BALD EAGLE AREA||45 – 22||4 – 6|
|01/12||@ Penns Valley||30 – 53||4 – 7|
|01/15||@ St. Marys||35 – 53||4 – 8|
|01/17||PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA||65 – 58||5 – 8|
|01/19||CENTRAL||26 – 40||5 – 9|
|01/20||@ Tyrone||37 – 60||5 – 10|
|01/23||@ Huntingdon||50 – 55||5 – 11|
|01/26||@ Bellefonte||62 – 60||6 – 11|
|01/31||TYRONE||41 – 65||6 – 12|
|02/02||@ Bald Eagle Area||35 – 33||7 – 12|
|02/06||PENNS VALLEY||42 – 46||7 – 13|