HYDE — Although it wasn’t technically the final home game of the regular season, thanks in part to last week’s dangerously frigid temperatures causing schedules to be shifted, the Lady Bison of Clearfield took to the home court knowing that one of the best players to carry the colors was seeing her career come closer to a conclusion. After joining her mom and dad at center court, Alayna Ryan joined her teammates to get prepared for another tough Mountain League game, this one against the Lady Dragons of Central.
Early on, the home squad seemed to be powering through to deliver a Senior Night triumph. Then, it all faded away. Clearfield’s hot first half went arctic in the final 16 minutes, as they fell in stunning fashion, 43-32.
Head coach Joey Castagnolo was almost stunned, with a “deer in the headlights” look at what he witnessed. He knew what changed for his team, and why Central made such a major comeback in the second half.
“The key was that in the first half, they took 5-7 passes, slowing the ball down,” he said. “I was fine with that, but all of a sudden they started speeding the game up, and we were just in a shell. I was comfortable with the way the game was in the first half.”
That approach by Central did not work at all in the first quarter, as the Bison defense forced tough shots, and held them 0-for-11 in the opening eight minutes, with the lone point from the visitors coming on a free throw. Then, in the second quarter, although Central seemed to find some momentum, but they were still only 3-for-12 from the floor, finishing with only nine points in the second quarter.
Heading into halftime, Clearfield found themselves up 21-10 and having possession to start the second half.
Suddenly, just like seemed to be the case all season, things went awry early, and often. To start the third quarter, the Lady Bison were timid, and it was clear the Lady Dragons had a game plan. The tempo picked up, which is typical for Clearfield as they like playing a faster pace, but the problem became that faster pace meant more mistakes. Five turnovers later, Clearfield suddenly saw themselves at a 21-19 gap after nine points by Central pulled the game to within a possession.
At the same time, when Clearfield did get deep looks at the basket for Megan Durandetta, one enormous problem arrived nearly every time.
That problem came in the form of Kylie Metzger, who in the second half turned up the wick on her defense as she was practically blocking every shot on the outside, and under the basket. Metzger pulled off a very rare high school triple-double, as she finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 blocks.
“What I was trying to do was get Megan away from her, that’s why I put her in the corner a couple times, just to get some confidence back,” Castagnolo said of Metzger against Durandetta. “They just blitzed us in the second half.”
Clearfield hung tough in the third quarter, but one of the key game changers came not necessarily on the court, but because of three words from the sidelines.
With a sideline warning already in effect for the Central bench, Clearfield suddenly had a push on the sidelines that went in favor of the Lady Dragons, giving Central an opportunity at the foul line. Castagnolo argued the call but the official would have none of it. After already having a warning against him, Central coach Rob Mock heard the argument and was almost muttering to give a warning the other way. Ironically, the official seemed to already be heading that direction prior to the remark, and Castagnolo was given the sideline warning.
When the official was walking away, Castagnolo uttered the words, “Great call, Bob” to the Central coach.
Immediately, that same official turned around, blew the whistle, and threw up a technical. Castagnolo argued that the remark wasn’t directed at the official, but the coach. After a few seconds, the two coaches and the official got together to try and clarify everything. Once everything settled down, the official then came to the scoring table, and indicated indeed the Lady Bison head coach was given a technical foul.
Four free throws, two a piece from Bailey Hueston for the foul and Maddi Metzler for the technical, all went in the net, and on the ensuing possession, Central added yet another basket to close out a 17-6 quarter that tied the ball game heading into the final eight minutes.
Unfortunately for Castagnolo, those eight minutes meant he could not roam the sidelines, and instead had to coach from the seat, trying to direct his team. That moment, in his eyes, changed the complexion of the game.
“That shouldn’t happen, and I told the girls it was my bad. I should’ve kept my cool,” he said.
Metzler ended the night with a team-high 14 points, 11 of which came in the second half, and it was her that gave Central their first lead in the game at the 6:42 mark of the final frame. Clearfield tried tying it on the following possession, but it just began fueling Central even more, as they went on another 9-0 run in the final quarter that put the home squad behind for good, as Metzger finished the night off with four final foul shots to push the deficit to 11 points.
For the home squad, Ryan did finish the night with a game-high 15 points, but the Lady Bison were dismal on the floor shooting, only going 10-for-59 at night’s end. Neither squad was strong on the floor for shooting, as the two teams were a combined 22-for-112, just barely over 20% accuracy.
Clearfield fell in the opening junior varsity contest as well, 41-24.
The Lady Bison (7-12) finish out their home slate for the 2018-2019 campaign on Wednesday night when they host Tyrone. This game was to be played last Wednesday but due to the frigid temperatures that blanketed the area both school districts closed. These two squads met back on December 21, with Tyrone winning in a mercy-ruled final, 73-17. Tip off for junior varsity action is at 6 p.m. with varsity to follow.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Central 1 9 17 16 – 43
Clearfield 9 12 6 5 – 32
Central – 43
Oakes 1 0-0 2, Krieder 0 0-0 0, Johnston 0 2-2 2, Longenecker 0 0-0 0, Metzger 3 5-8 11, Miller 0 0-0 0, Eicher 2 0-0 6, Hueston 2 4-6 8, Metzler 4 6-8 14. TOTALS 12 17-24 43.
Clearfield – 32
Durandetta 1 0-0 3, Hipps 1 0-0 3, Ryan 6 3-8 15, Van Tassel 0 0-0 0, Rowles 0 0-0 0, Alt 0 0-0 0, Rhine 1 0-0 2, Bender 0 1-1 1, Miller 1 6-8 8. TOTALS 10 10-17 32.
Three-Point Shots: Eicher (2)/Durandetta, Hipps
Technical Fouls: Castagnolo
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
01/16 BELLEFONTE 54 – 48 6 – 7
01/18 BALD EAGLE AREA 43 – 38 7 – 7
01/22 HUNTINGDON 52 – 54 7 – 8
01/23 ST. MARYS 31 – 43 7 – 9
01/25 @ Philipsburg-Osceola 45 – 56 7 – 10
01/30 TYRONE ppd. 7 – 10
02/01 @ Penns Valley 24 – 55 7 – 11
02/05 CENTRAL 32 – 43 7 – 12
02/08 @ Bellefonte
02/12 @ Curwensville