HYDE — After spending the first part of the season away from the Clearfield Junior-Senior High School, the Lady Bison finally got to hit the hardwood on their own Bison Gym Monday night. To start their home slate, it was an opponent they had already seen this year, the Lady Raiders of Brookville, whom they played in the season-opening tournament at the beginning of December.
The outside temperatures were chilly, but inside both teams were red-hot, with a back-and-forth game that came down to pressure, rebounds, and shooting. When it mattered, the Lady Bison left everything they could on the court, and walked away with the hard-fought 57-53 victory, their second win on the season.
Head coach Joey Castagnolo at times during the game was elated, unhappy, confused, and exhausted. When asked about if these types of games were stressful, he was extremely blunt.
“Oh yes, very stressful! Especially when they (Brookville) beat us by 24 on their home court about a week and half ago,” he said. “I watched the game tape today, and they weren’t 24 points better than us. I told the kids to relax before the game, and they listened.”
The Lady Raiders got the opening basket, but in the first quarter it was Megan Durandetta hitting a pair of three’s from the base line that were key in pushing Clearfield to a nine-point advantage at one point. After eight minutes, Clearfield held a 20-12 advantage on Brookville. In the second quarter, the Lady Bison continued to put pressure on the defense, as Alayna Ryan began her run of scoring. But Brookville was not out of the woods, as they won the quarter 13-12, heading into halftime down by just seven.
However, things began looking a bit bleak when the second half began, as the Lady Raiders suddenly found their footing, preventing Clearfield from hitting the basket and returning to their end of the court for points. Clearfield and Castagnolo knew that some changes needed to be made.
Still, the Bison held on, but by just one point heading into the final stanza. Brookville then hit a three-point shot from Kara Powell, and followed it up with a bucket by Morgan Johnson to take the lead. Castagnolo knew at that moment, his team needed to reset.
“That’s when I called a time-out,” he said. “They were up four, and then Megan hitting that three turned things around for us.”
That three-point shot was one of four that Durandetta made, as all her shots came from behind the line for her 12-point outing. Her shot was big in that moment, but even though Durandetta and Ryan were accounting for a majority of scoring for the Lady Bison, Castagnolo was quick to point out the other key player in the game that had a big night in a different way.
“Tess Miller. She played an (incredible) game inside, and didn’t get fatigued. She’s in shape, and played excellent,” he said of his junior center. “She had 15 rebounds, four blocks. She neutralized everybody.”
When the game came down to making needed shots, Durandetta’s three from the right wing started the comeback, but Ryan was pushing to get to the basket almost every drive. Some plays were questionable whether she should have been fouled, but the lone senior on the Lady Bison roster pulled through with a game-high 26 points, and pulled in a double-double with 10 rebounds, plus six assists and four steals. Castagnolo said it was two different games for his senior when comparing the first game and the home-opener.
“Alayna had four (points) up there, and she had 26 here,” he said. “Also, the atmosphere when we were up there, it was an assembly game. It was packed with kids, and this is more what they are used to.”
Brookville came in strong as Johnson led the visitors in scoring with 21 points, while Marcy Sudindler added another 12 of their own. The Lady Raiders were perfect from the free-throw line, going 13-for-13, but struggled on the floor as they shot only 17-for-60 on the night.
Castagnolo was really happy for his squad to open their home slate with a win, especially considering they had not seen their high school except for loading up the bus to make a trip.
“We were on the road for four tough games, especially with their tournament,” he said. “This one, it’s sweet.”
Clearfield couldn’t sweep the night as they dropped the opening jayvee contest, 34-24.
Castagnolo felt his team was definitely feeling good after the win, and knew that this week was not getting any easier with a pair of Mountain League contests to close out the week prior to the holiday break. Up next is another home game on Wednesday night, but it is one that Castagnolo and his team know is enormous early in the season. They will play host to the Lady Mounties of Philipsburg-Osceola, and that means even though the opposition will be led by a new coach, one familiar face will be on the court, Halle Herrington.
The Lady Bison coach knew his team was feeling good after the victory, but also knew that he and company had to immediately get back to work
“(This gave us) a lot of confidence, yes. Tomorrow, we’re going to go through a walk-through, get rested, and get ready for Herrington and P-O,” he said in closing.
Tip for the junior varsity will be at 6 p.m. with the varsity to follow.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Brookville 12 13 17 11 – 53
Clearfield 20 12 11 14 – 57
Brookville – 53
Shorp 0 0-0 0, Sudindler 3 6-6 12, Mo. Johnson 7 2-2 21, Ma. Johnson 2 2-2 6, Grant 0 0-0 0, Taylor 2 1-1 5, Hergert 0 0-0 0, Hatzinkolus 2 2-2 6, Powell 1 0-0 3. TOTALS 17 13-13 53.
Clearfield – 57
Durandetta 4 0-0 12, Ogden 3 0-0 6, Hipps 1 0-0 2, Ryan 7 11-14 26, Rowles 0 0-0 0, Bender 1 0-0 2, Miller 4 1-2 9. TOTALS 20 12-18 57.
Three-Point Shots: Mo. Johnson (5), Powell/Durandetta (4), Ryan
Technical Fouls: Hergert
Lady Bison Scoreboard:
Date Opponent Score Record
12/07 & 08 @ Brookville Tip-off Tourney
12/07 vs. Brookville 30 – 54 0 – 1
12/08 vs. Clarion-Limestone 58 – 30 1 – 1
12/11 @ Bald Eagle Area 27 – 31 1 – 2
12/14 @ Huntingdon 42 – 72 1 – 3
12/17 BROOKVILLE 57 – 53 2 – 3
12/21 @ Tyrone
01/04 @ Punxsutawney
01/08 PENNS VALLEY
01/11 @ Central
01/18 BALD EAGLE AREA
01/23 ST. MARYS
01/25 @ Philipsburg-Osceola
02/01 @ Penns Valley
02/08 @ Bellefonte
02/12 @ Curwensville