CURWENSVILLE — For almost three quarters in Patton Hall Monday night, the Clearfield and Curwensville schoolboy basketball teams appeared headed for an even lower-scoring repeat of their season-opening thriller that the Bison won 54-52.
The backyard rivals had matched tenacious man defenses that resulted in poor shooting percentages, but after Golden Tide scoring machine Josh Terry followed up two free throws with a drive to bank in a short jumper and make it 25-23, the Bison responded to break the non-league game open.
They scored 11 points in the final 2:04 of the third period and then pulled away in the final eight minutes to a 49-29 victory that clinched a semifinal home game in the upcoming District 9 Class AAAA Playoffs.
“What a great team effort,” Clearfield coach Nate Glunt said. “Nine guys scored. And it was great team defense to hold that team to 29 points. They’re really skilled.”
Curwensville coach Matt Wassil was equally proud of his team’s defense.
“Before that late three-point shot, they had 46 points, and I would take that every night,” he said.
“Our problem was offense. You can’t score 29 points and have a chance.”
The Golden Tide found their home-court rims especially unfriendly in the first half, when shot after shot would not fall, and went to the locker room on the short end of a 19-13 score.
They made only five of 31 attempts.
“That was huge,” Wassil said. “As well as we played defensively, if we could have made some of those shots, we probably led at the half. Not by a lot, but we could have been up six or eight points with the quality of shots that we missed.
“Then, we just continued to play bad offensively and couldn’t get anything going.”
Curwensville wound up shooting 21 percent, with only four players breaking into the scoring column.
Clearfield shot 36 percent and had much better balance, Ryan Chew high with 10 points and Keagan Hess next with eight.
That duo combined for a dozen points to finish a 19-2 run which came right after Terry made it close with four of his hard-earned, game-high 20 points.
Reese Wilson ignited the outburst with a short jumper, Wyatt Porter launched a trey from the right corner and Taye Lynch leaped to deflect an in-bounds pass for a steal and layup before Hess cashed two more Golden Tide turnovers into four points in the final 13 seconds of the third quarter.
Chew took charge in the fourth period, driving into the lane to flip in two baskets, pass off to Hess for another and add two free throws after being fouled.
“We were able to get good shots going to the baskets,” Glunt said. “We weren’t off balance, and we were able to find our teammates.
“We didn’t shoot the ball really well, but we were able to get shots in the paint,” Glunt said. “And when that happens, you give yourself an opportunity to win.”
“They got some penetration at times, but I though we played real strong on their drives and, for the most part, rebounded the ball pretty well off it,” Wassil said.
Junior Avery Francisco was a workhorse under the glass for the Golden Tide, ripping down 16 rebounds before departing with 4:57 remaining because of an ankle injury. Christian Bakaysa grabbed nine missed shots.
“As well as Avery does on the boards, we’ve gotta get other guys to contribute there,” Wassil said. “We’ve gotten into a bad habit of relying on his ability to rebound, which is tremendous, but he’s competing against three guys in there at times, and that’s just not fair to him.
“Some other guys have to start carrying the load. I would direct that more towards our perimeter guys. We need our guards, especially defensively, to start working a little bit harder in there.”
Cade Walker was Clearfield’s top rebounder with seven, while Chew had five rebounds plus five steals in addition to drawing the defensive assignment of trying to slow down Terry, who accounted for Curwensville’s last 12 points in the final 12 minutes.
“We had Chewy playing Terry tough,” Glunt said. “He‘s an excellent player, and you just gotta make him work.
“Our whole defense was geared to make sure we had helpside defense, and then we boxed out. I thought our kids did a good job with that.”
Taking care of the ball was another key for the Bison, who were guilty of only six turnovers, none in the first and third periods.
“Our kids did a great job of being low when handling the basketball and didn’t try to throw passes to players when they might not be open,” Glunt said. “We call those 50-50 passes, and we didn’t throw any that I can remember. And we didn’t jump to throw passes.”
Glunt pointed out contributions of Hess, who came off the bench to help run the motion offense more than usual because of foul problems and Reese Wilson not starting because of an injury he suffered in the last game.
Hess, a junior guard, had three rebounds, two steals and an assist to go with his career-high for points.
“He has been playing well, and tonight he played his best game, especially defensively,” Glunt said.
The Bison (13-8) will close the regular season with a trip to Spring Mills for a Mountain League makeup game Thursday, while the Golden Tide (10-10) will try to gain some momentum for the District 9 Class AA Playoffs in two important Moshannon Valley League road games, Wednesday against Harmony and Friday against West Branch.
Clearfield’s jayvees also were victorious, 47-32. High scorers with 11 points apiece were Andrew Lopez for the Bison and Adam Miller for the Golden Tide.
CLEARFIELD — 49
Ryan Chew 4 2-2 10, Jon Gates 3 0-2 6, Wyatt Porter 3 0-0 7, Cade Walker 2 0-0 5, Taye Lynch 2 0-0 4, Reese Wilson 2 0-0 4, Keegan Hess 3 2-4 8, Jake Lezzer 1 0-0 2, Karson Rumsky 0 0-0 0, Barrett Kline 0 0-0 0, Andrew Lopez 0 0-0 0, Jake Billotte 1 0-1 3. TOTALS: 21 4-9 49.
CURWENSVILLE — 29
Devan Barrett 0 0-0 0, Josh Terry 7 6-9 20, Christian Bakaysa 2 0-4 4, Noah VonGunden 1 0-0 3, Avery Francisco 1 0-1 2, Nick Stewart 0 0-0 0, Dakota Bloom 0 0-0 0, Nate McKenrick 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 11 6-14 29.
Three-Point Field Goals — Clearfield 3 (Porter, Walker, Billotte); Curwensville 1 (VonGunden).
Score by Quarters
Clearfield 9 10 17 13 – 49
Curwensville 6 7 10 6 – 29
Officials — Marven Martell, Lee Martell and Bill Zupich.