HYDE — Ryan Chew and Reese Wilson came through when needed the most in their final Bison Gym appearance as the Clearfield Area High School boys basketball team withstood a furious St. Marys rally for a hard-earned 60-57 victory in an exciting District 9 Class AAAA semifinal Wednesday night.
The two seniors accounted for 22 of the Bison’s final 25 points and were up to the challenge at the foul line in the fourth quarter, combining to make 14 of 16 free throws.
“That’s just amazing to have that mental toughness in this environment,” Clearfield coach Nate Glunt said. “Absolutely phenomenal. And clutch.”
Chew added a floater in the lane for seven points in the final period en route to a career-high 19 points, while Wilson calmly drained nine of 10 pressure-packed foul shots to finish with 12 points.
Sophomore Cade Walker chipped in 11 more for the second-seeded Bison (14-9), who will be seeking a fourth consecutive district crown next week when they meet No. 1 seed Bradford (14-8) at a site, date and time to be determined. The Owls ousted Punxsutawney 37-30 in Wednesday’s other semi.
For St. Marys (12-11), senior standout Nate Schneider was every bit as good as advertised. District 9’s leading scorer exploded for 36 points, but no other Flying Dutch player had more than six.
Glunt doled out kudos to Schneider.
“He’s an excellent player,” he said. “He’s tall, he handles the basketball and he gets to the basket.
“Our guys did a good job, though, of limiting everybody else. He wasn’t able to drive and kick for threes. When we watched them play, they always were driving and kicking for other kids to make threes or layups.”
Clearfield’s tight, switching man defense really kept everybody except Schneider under control in the first half, when he produced all but four of the Flying Dutch’s points.
The Bison, who never trailed in a game that was tied three times early, scored the last 10 points of the first period for an 18-12 lead that they turned into a 28-17 advantage by halftime.
“We were able to get to the basket and we got good shots,” Glunt said. “We haven’t shot the ball well in a while, and we actually made some threes. We’ve been averaging one, maybe two, the last couple of weeks.”
The Bison found the range on four of their five shots from behind the arc, two by Jon Gates, during their closing 20-8 run.
St. Marys made the Clearfield fans more than a little nervous down the stretch with rebounding and a fullcourt press keys to scoring edges in both the third and fourth quarters.
“We played the same defense, and the difference in the first half was being able to hold them to one shot,” Glunt said. “The fourth quarter we didn’t box out that well.”
The Bison were affected somewhat when the Flying Dutch changed defense from man to zone.
“Their kids are athletic, and they were active,” Glunt said. “We never played a zone like that this year. Most of the traditional zones we played were 2-3, and they packed it in. But they had those two guys out front running and chasing everywhere. Once we adjusted to it, we were okay.”
“In the first half, they had some deflections. The second half, we started getting lower, shoulder to hip. When you attack, you’re low and you’re strong with the ball, they reach in, they foul you. And our kids did a good job with that.”
The Bison were shooting one-and-ones just over four minutes into the third quarter and went to the foul line in the bonus situation at the start of the fourth period.
Their biggest lead was 39-27 when Chew was fouled on a floater for an old-fashioned three-point play with the clock showing 1:37 left in the third quarter.
After the Flying Dutch ran off eight points, five by Schneider, Chew charged into the lane for another floater that sent the Bison to the break up 41-35.
“Huge,” Glunt described what might have been the barn-burner’s biggest basket. “That put us back up by six. (Chew) just played an excellent game.”
The Bison had only two field goals in the fourth quarter but were able to keep the Flying Dutch at bay by parading to the foul line 20 times and cashing in 15 for 75 percent.
“What a time to have it,” Glunt said “We shot 74 percent from the line in practice this week. And the kids did a good job coming out and executing in the game.”
Clearfield’s lead ranged from five to seven points most of the final period thanks to free throws plus field goals by Walker and Chew, but St. Marys did close to within three, 58-55, on Schneider’s putback with 21 seconds left.
Then, Wilson and Schneider matched pairs of free throws with only eight seconds ticking off the clock.
And the Flying Dutch did get a chance to tie after two Bison misses at the line with 12.4 seconds remaining, but a three-pointer was off target and the ensuing putback try failed before Wilson grabbed his team-high seventh rebound as the buzzer sounded.
“Give their kids credit,” Glunt said. “They did an excellent job of crashing the boards in the fourth quarter, but we battled back.
“It was an awesome high school basketball game.”
ST. MARYS — 57
Jared Groll 2 2-6 6, Cahil Parrish 0 0-0 0, Jackson Lindemuth 0 0-0 0, Austin Goodrow 1 2-3 4, Nate Schneider 14 7-7 36, Anthony Cortina 3 0-1 6, Mitchell Reiter 1 0-0 2, Luke Lasko 1 0-0 3, Mario Chiappelli 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 22 11-17 57.
CLEARFIELD — 60
Ryan Chew 5 8-9 19, Reese Wilson 1 10-12 12, Jon Gates 3 0-0 8, Wyatt Porter 2 0-0 5, Cade Walker 4 3-5 11, Taye Lynch 2 1-2 5, Keagan Hess 0 0-0 0, Jake Lezzer 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 17 22-28 60.
Three-Point Field Goals — St. Marys 2 (Schneider 1, Lasko 1); Clearfield 4 (Chew 1, Gates 2, Porter 1).
Score by Quarters
St. Marys 12 5 18 22 – 57
Clearfield 18 10 13 19 – 60
Officials — John Fricker, Scott Sullivan and Dave Blair.