MORRISDALE — After struggling the night before on their own court, the Curwensville Golden Tide got back on the hardwood on Wednesday night. This time, however, they did so by traveling to face off with the West Branch Warriors for a Mo Valley matchup that every year seems to be competitive.
On this night, that competition became a monumental night for one program and one coach. Although Curwensville kept things close for a majority of the game, each quarter they were outperformed by the Warriors. In the end, the Tide were on the wrong end of a 56-40 final, a victory that gave Warrior head coach Danny Clark his 100th win with the program, in just his seventh season at the helm.
Afterwards, Clark was giving credit to everyone that was around him, because it was about the program and not his own accomplishments.
“Hard to believe when I got into this, I didn’t really think about that. It crept up there a little bit, and I said ‘It’s coming quick.’ Seven years of head coaching, and Bill (Etchison), I was his successor, and he’s back to help us now, and he’s up there with 116. For me and Bill, that’s 216 wins in 15 years,” Clark said as he took off some of the confetti stuck to his shirt. “We have a great program, top to bottom. We got great teams over that time, players, coaches.
“I’m lucky where I’m at, and it’s all for West Branch. I just get to be part of it. It’s all about the kids, I love them and they love me too; it’s a big family.”
West Branch did not get going immediately on the night, as Curwensville jumped out to an early 5-0 lead in the first couple minutes, eventually that led to 7-4 score before Clark called timeout at the 4:15 mark of the first quarter.
Despite the lead, Curwensville head coach Matt Wassil could be seen telling his team to relax and not make mistakes to yield opportunities. That worked for a bit, but soon West Branch found itself ahead with just under three minutes remaining, forcing Wassil to call a timeout to settle down his team. After one quarter, the Tide kept things close, but the Warriors pulled ahead 17-14.
Still down one possession, Curwensville kept its starters in for all the first quarter, and most of the second, before the first substitution from the visitors took place. However, turnovers and the ensuing points put the Tide in a bind, as they found themselves down by eight at one point.
That run was fueled thanks to some tough scoring by West Branch. Normally, that scoring would be from their points leader, Larry Cowder. However, the Tide defense kept him in check for most of the second quarter.
It was the Warrior bench, however, that created the biggest confidence boost for the home squad, and Clark felt that was the big difference that got his team into the flow of the game.
“That’s happened a few times this year; it’s not anything we’re not used to. Everybody focuses on Larry, but we have a great group of guys that can all score and not panic. We still played our game,” he said. “In the first half, my bench wasn’t scoring until Doug (Kolesar) hit those two big three’s heading into halftime. That was our first bench scoring, and after that it just cycled through. When our bench scores, it lifts everybody. Our starters don’t do it all; I have a really good bench. When they get in, they need to perform offensively and defensively.”
That bench accounted for eight of the team’s 15 second quarter points, and gave West Branch a 32-18 advantage heading into halftime.
Cowder ended the night with 13 points, but it was David Guerra that led the team in scoring, going 8-for-14 on the floor, finishing with 18 points and six rebounds.
Curwensville kept things interesting in the third quarter as both teams struggled to find the basket.
But when the fourth quarter began, turnovers were plenty for the Tide, as they committed six compared to three for West Branch. The lone scoring in the quarter from the Tide came thanks to three deep shots from Ty Terry, who ended the night with 18 points thanks to six shots from behind the arc. Christian Bakaysa added in 12 points, while almost pulling a double-double on the night as he finished with nine rebounds.
The Tide also dropped the opening junior varsity contest, 52-15, in a game that ended under the mercy rule for the second consecutive night.
Clark was still emotional long after the final buzzer went off, taking in the moment with a lot of individuals, from his assistant coaches, to his players, and eventually the people that support the program the most, his family.
“My mom and dad come to a lot of games. It’s humbling, because as parents, you want to see your kids succeed. I think my dad cares more about my program than I do sometimes, because he wants me to succeed. My brother and sister came. Crissy (Clark’s wife) was off tonight, and normally she works nights, so it just worked out. My mom and dad bring my little girl to the games.
“It’s a cool honor, and I’m glad to be part of Bill’s history (with the program). I played under Bill, I coached under Bill, and I took over from him. Now that he’s back, it’s come full circle.”
Curwensville (1-10) has a day of rest before they return to the court on Friday when they travel to face Kane. Tip off is at 6 p.m. for junior varsity, with the varsity contest to follow.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Curwensville 14 10 6 10 – 40
West Branch 17 15 9 15 – 56
Curwensville – 40
Francisco 0 1-2 1, Bakaysa 2 6-8 12, Irwin 2 0-0 5, Guiffre 0 0-0 0, Bloom 2 0-0 4, Terry 6 0-0 18, Lansberry 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 12 7-10 40.
West Branch – 56
Guerra 8 1-2 18, Cowder 4 3-3 13, Fluck 1 3-4 5, Gutierrez 1 1-2 3, Arnold 3 0-0 6, Eboch 0 1-2 1, Kristofits 1 0-0 2, Kolesar 2 0-0 6, Bellamy 0 0-0 0, Rothrock 0 0-0 0, Dale 1 0-2 2. TOTALS 21 9-15 56.
Three-Point Shots: Irwin, Terry (6)/Guerra, Cowder (2), Kolesar (2)
Foul Out: Irwin
Golden Tide Scoreboard:
Date Opponent Score Record
12/07 @ Clearfield 32 – 77 0 – 1
12/10 @ Mo Valley 26 – 56 0 – 2
12/14 RIDGWAY 26 – 65 0 – 3
12/17 @ Penns Manor 53 – 66 0 – 4
12/19 GLENDALE 45 – 66 0 – 5
12/21 @ Leechburg 45 – 83 0 – 6
01/04 @ Brockway 54 – 67 0 – 7
01/08 @ DuBois Central 36 – 67 0 – 8
01/10 @ Harmony 64 – 59 1 – 8
01/15 ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 48 – 64 1 – 9
01/16 @ West Branch 40 – 56 1 – 10
01/18 @ Kane
01/22 @ Ridgway
01/28 WEST BRANCH
01/30 @ Glendale
02/01 @ Johnsonburg
02/05 DUBOIS CENTRAL
02/11 MO VALLEY