MORRISDALE — A new week in the new year meant new opportunities for the Lady Tide of Curwensville. Following two tough losses to start 2020, head coach Bob Desmitt and his team made the short trip to Morrisdale to face off with the Lady Warriors of West Branch, whom took the first game 37-34 between the two to start the season.
Curwensville played to their strengths early, and often, leading for almost 90 percent of the contest. But, the final 10 percent came in the final minutes, as the Lady Warriors stormed back from a nine-point deficit at halftime to take the lead, and hang on in a frenzied final moments to stun Curwensville, 32-31.
“I am just at a loss for words,” Desmitt said afterwards. “We played better than we did on Thursday and Friday, without question. But these games, you simply have to win.”
Early on, Curwensville seemed to be keying on the press defense, and kept the man-on-man in play for the entire time. But, the Lady Tide were winning a key aspect in the game throughout, that being on the boards. Curwensville out-rebounded West Branch, 34-28, with nearly half those coming from Alyssa Bakaysa. The tall center was double-teamed for a majority of the night, yet still came away as the top scorer, finishing a double-double with 15 points, 17 rebounds, plus a pair of blocks.
“They double-teamed Alyssa, and we knew at that point someone had to be open, but we couldn’t find them,” Desmitt said afterwards.
After one, Curwensville held an 11-5 advantage and continued to hold serve in the second, heading into the break with a 21-12 lead.
The second half, West Branch began finding a groove following a pair of threes by Sarah Betts and Tory Kalke. West Branch won the quarter, 10-8, and cut the lead down to seven. But it was their fourth quarter that ultimately was when they found everything they were trying to achieve in the first 24 minutes.
Some key assists and pass blocks from Ashley Mertz, along with a plus-one bucket helped cut the gap to six, then Kalke hit her second three-point shot to pull within a bucket. Curwensville, meanwhile, found itself missing shots, turning the ball over, and missing rebounds. What was a 29-22 lead entering the fourth quarter suddenly became a 30-29 deficit with two minutes remaining.
The double team on Bakaysa meant the visiting team needed to look to others to make a shot, but layups from Hannah Condon and Tarah Jacobson fell short.
After Betts made one final basket to put West Branch at 32 points, Bakaysa got fouled in the paint to give her a couple free shots, but only made one. With under a minute remaining, she made another, and then the teams began trading time outs to set up for what was looking to be a tight finish to send the game to possibly overtime.
As the final seconds ticked away, Curwensville had a final chance to drive into the basket as Briana Swindell popped a quick jumper by the baseline. It knocked off the rim, with Bakaysa and Betts going for the rebound. Bakaysa got the quick board and made the quick jump shot, but as it bounced off the rim, both squads tried for the rebound, and suddenly the final buzzer went off. The Warrior fans cheered for joy as they achieved their fifth win of the season in stunning fashion, while the Tide stood stunned on the sidelines as they held the lead for over 30 minutes, but saw it slip away in the final minutes.
“I told the girls at halftime, and you even heard me before halftime, to not rush shots. We just didn’t slow down enough to make the right shots when needed,” Desmett said. “You just cannot lose these kind of games, especially when you have a lead and let it slip away.
“This one is a tough one.”
Curwensville (2-6) has a chance to get back on the right side of the scoreboard on Wednesday night when they host Glendale in a Moshannon Valley League contest. Junior varsity is set for 6 p.m. with the varsity contest to follow.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Curwensville 11 10 8 2 – 31
West Branch 5 7 10 10 – 32
Curwensville – 31
Condon 0 0-0 0, Jacobson 4 3-3 11, Swindell 0 0-0 0, Bakaysa 6 3-6 15, Henry 1 0-1 2, Guhier 1 1-2 3, Cossar 0 0-0 0, Anderson 0 0-0 0, Caldwell 0 0-0 0, Pentz 0 0-0 0, Weber 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 12 7-14 31.
West Branch – 32
Mertz 5 2-4 12, H. Betts 0 0-0 0, S. Betts 3 1-4 8, Miller 0 0-0 0, Smeal 0 0-0 0, McGonigal 1 0-0 2, Cantolina 0 0-0 0, Kalke 4 0-0 10, Parks 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 13 3-8 32.
Three-Point Shots: S. Betts, Kalke-2
Lady Tide Scoreboard:
|12/09||WEST BRANCH||34 – 37||0 – 1|
|12/11||@ Mo Valley||49 – 35||1 – 1|
|12/16||PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA||47 – 24||2 – 1|
|12/18||RIDGWAY||18 – 30||2 – 2|
|12/27||CLEARFIELD||16 – 49||2 – 3|
|01/02||@ DuBois Central||32 – 73||2 – 4|
|01/03||@ Brockway||21 – 63||2 – 5|
|01/06||@ West Branch||31 – 32||2 – 6|
|01/14||ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC|