HYDE — A deficit of 11, shooting percentage of under 15 percent, and a stunned crowd inside the Bison Gym told a story. That story was of the first 16 minutes of action that saw the Lady Bison being outperformed in all aspects by the visiting Lady Beavers of Dubois.
However, that story changed in the ensuing 20 minutes. Clearfield powered back, overcame everything that worked against them in the first two quarters, forced overtime and ultimately held on for a stunning 42-40 triumph in a District IX contest that had everyone in attendance roaring.
“What a win!” the words from head coach Joey Castagnolo said afterwards. “We were really flat, and I think that had a lot to do with the win on Friday. I got them moving in the second half, just to get them out of their rhythm. They (DuBois) are a patient team.”
It was the visitors that had everything going in their favor in the opening quarter as Abby Guiher drained a pair of three’s from the baseline, while Chelsea DeSalve pulled down six rebounds. Five of the Lady Beavers accounted for points as they held the 18-8 advantage after the first quarter.
Defensively, they held the Lady Bison 3-for-16 in the first quarter, with Alayna Ryan accounting for six of those points. Things did not go any better in the second quarter, as just a pair of baskets found the net. Heading into halftime, Dubois held a 26-14 advantage, holding Clearfield to just 5-for-34 from the floor.
For Castagnolo, something needed to change, and what he decided was simple.
“Two things. First, I changed to a press, and we went two-on-two,” he said. “They kept slowing the game down, and the press got us moving. They weren’t being as methodical.”
The slow pace worked for DuBois for the first 16 minutes, but when Clearfield came out with their press defense on the opening possession of the second half, it got the Lady Beavers flustered, and that was when things began happening.
After almost six minutes, Clearfield outscored Dubois 9-4, eventually winning the quarter, and making it a close game with the final eight minutes to play. Castagnolo later admitted he was expecting his team to have some struggles after their win on Friday at Central, but he also wasn’t even thinking about the deficit.
“I didn’t think about the score. We were coming off the big win on Friday, and I thought we would have a bit of a let down, but not that big of one,” he said. “The girls sucked it up, I told them ‘Let’s get it down to about five heading into the fourth quarter,’ and that’s exactly what it was.
“I still had confidence. They just got too passive.”
The fourth quarter, and ultimately most of the second half, belonged to Ryan. Possession after possession, she was taking charge, looking for an open shot, scoring 12 of her game-high 25 points in the third and fourth quarter. Castagnolo set up the opportunities, and also credited her getting the ball to Megan Durandetta on the baseline for a critical three-point shot with five minutes to go in regulation, giving Clearfield its first lead of the night.
“Alayna took over. I called plays for her, and Durandetta hitting that big three, and that’s all from a set play,” he said.
The two teams traded baskets over the final four minutes, each getting opportunity after opportunity, keeping the crowd engaged. A timeout with 2:08 remaining gave DuBois an opportunity to pull even with Clearfield, and they did just that on a basket by DeSalve. Clearfield came back with a bucket from Ryan. DuBois answered back on a foul from Paige Rhine, sending Olivia Johnson to the foul line for a pair of free throws, each going through the net. Tess Miller matched with a pair of free throws of her own, evening the game at 36 points a piece.
With under a minute remaining, Saige Weible managed to get a late basket, giving DuBois the two-point advantage, and shortly after with Clearfield trapped on the sideline, Ryan and Maddie Smith found themselves tied up with the ball, and possession went to the visitors. DuBois coach Keith Kriner called timeout to calm his team down.
A few seconds later, the ball went in bounds, but suddenly got loose on the floor…and the whistle blew. It didn’t come from a jump ball, but one of the officials said he heard a timeout called.
Castagnolo began wondering what was happening, and as the officials convened for a discussion, one official said he heard timeout called, but not from Kriner, nor from a player. It seemed as though it came from the sideline…but the question came – was a timeout even allowed?
After the discussion, the ball was given back to DuBois, much to the disgust of Castagnolo and the Clearfield crowd. In the hopes to try and rally his team, Castagnolo then strongly made the signal for a timeout of his own, giving his girls a chance to reset and decide how to play the ensuing possession.
“I didn’t understand. It was all the wrong call, and yet they still got the ball,” Castagnolo said of the controversy.
His team answered in a big way as four seconds after play resumed, another jump ball was recorded, this time falling in favor of Clearfield, and again Castagnolo decided to use his final full-length timeout to set things up for his offense.
The possession went on, with Ryan driving into the paint, and getting the layup to pull the game even. DuBois tried a late gasp pair of jump shots, but each fell to the side, and after 32 minutes, it was not enough. Knotted up at 38 points each, the game clock was reset to four minutes. Both teams added on another full-length timeout, while Castagnolo had one 30-second break leftover.
Overtime was set, and DuBois got the first opportunity, and the second, and third…all yielding no points.
Clearfield answered with a basket from Ryan with just over two minutes remaining, but Dubois answered back with one from Johnson, making it even at 40.
While DuBois made its way to the front court, Ryan was pressuring. When Guiher had the ball, she shifted left, then went back right when Maddie Smith got possession, just waiting for an opportunity.
It came. At 1:30 left, she knocked the ball from Smith’s hands, driving down the right sideline, and found her lane to the net, as her jump shot went in, putting Clearfield ahead by two.
Clearfield then pressured on defense, but with Ryan sitting at four fouls, the approach had to change. Kirstie Van Tassel had to take over at the head of the defense, making Ryan play the sideline. It worked as the Lady Beavers only managed two more shots on the basket, but one final opportunity came.
Shortly after the final DuBois timeout of the night, with 15 seconds remaining, Maddie Smith was fouled on an attempted layup during the ensuing possession., giving her a pair of free throws. Only two seconds remained on the clock, meaning the first attempt was critical. Smith lined up, and the crowd began hammering the bleachers to get her out of sorts. The shot hit on the back of the rim, and went left.
Smith’s second shot went off the side of the rim, and somehow was rebounded by DuBois, but the one last gasp of a shot from the post went too long, and the buzzer sounded. The home crowd was ecstatic after such a game, and even Castagnolo could not hold in his excitement. It was two enormous wins in as many games, which gives his team an even record (6-6), and confidence into the stretch run of the season.
“We were aggressive on defense, and I had to take Alayna off point because of fouls,” Castagnolo said. “They responded, even when playing out of position defensively, but they accepted the roles, and did their job.”
For the Lady Beavers, Johnson led scoring with 12 points while Weible added in another 10 DeSalve led her team in rebounds with 11. Miller also had 11 rebounds for Clearfield, along with three blocks. Clearfield’s unsung hero in the late going was Paige Rhine, who had three key blocks, two coming in the second half that prevented a pair of easy baskets.
“Rhine had the advantage inside. Tess (Miller) took care of the post inside, and Paige took care of the other post. She had some nice blocks, and they were all big ones,” Castagnolo said. “The girls listened to me down the stretch.”
Clearfield has a long run of games inside the Bison Gym over the next two weeks, and Castagnolo is hoping to get the kind of crowd response that he saw against DuBois. He motioned to his team as they emerged from the locker room with a paper that had the final score, and taped it under the team poster, saying “Five games, five wins.”
“The crowd was unbelievable,” he said. “There were a lot of people here from DuBois, along with our fans, just a great atmosphere for a girls basketball game.”
DuBois managed to open the night with a 36-25 victory in the junior varsity game.
The second of the five games for the Lady Bison comes on Wednesday night as they return to Mountain League play against Bellefonte. Tip off at 6 p.m. for jayvee, with varsity to follow.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Dubois 18 8 4 8 2 – 40
Clearfield 8 6 11 13 4 – 42
Dubois – 40
Guiher 2 0-0 6, M. Smith 3 2-4 8, T. Smith 1 0-0 2, DeSalve 1 0-1 2, Weible 4 2-2 10, Henninger 0 0-0 0, Johnson 5 2-2 12. TOTALS 16 6-9 40.
Clearfield – 42
Durandetta 2 1-2 7, Hipps 0 0-0 0, Ryan 12 1-3 25, VanTassel 0 0-0 0, Rowles 0 0-0 0, Rhine 2 0-0 4, Bender 0 1-2 1, Miller 1 3-6 5. TOTALS 17 6-13 42.
Three-Point Shots: Guiher (2)/Durandetta (2)
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
12/19 PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA 59 – 50 3 – 3
12/21 @ Tyrone 17 – 73 3 – 4
12/27 CURWENSVILLE 60 – 36 4 – 4
01/04 @ Punxsutawney 27 – 50 4 – 5
01/08 PENNS VALLEY 32 – 71 4 – 6
01/11 @ Central 54 – 37 5 – 6
01/14 DUBOIS 42 – 40 ot 6 – 6
01/18 BALD EAGLE AREA
01/23 ST. MARYS
01/25 @ Philipsburg-Osceola
02/01 @ Penns Valley
02/08 @ Bellefonte
02/12 @ Curwensville