CURWENSVILLE — The middle of the season for the Curwensville Lady Tide was a tough stretch of games, as the team was losing by a close margin and sometimes were not in the game. However, late in January, they began turning around, and the coaches simply told them two words: Don’t quit. The team took it to heart, and decided no matter what, to play for pride, and not quit. After winning the first two games of the week, the Tide welcomed in the Lady Wolverines of Sheffield to close out the season.
Playing with pride is exactly what they did, as from opening tip to final whistle the home squad had the lead and never relinquished it, closing out the year with their third straight win, 51-19.
“We talked before the game to send the seniors, ‘give them a going away present,’ and we did just that,” head coach Bob Desmett said after the game.
The Lady Tide were without senior Hannah Condon, who was absent due to being honored as regional chair for band, but the other two seniors, Tarah Jacobson and Brianna Swindell, took on the extra load. However, to start the game, it was freshman Skylar Pentz who got things rolling. On a dish from Swindell, Pentz found a spot on the wing and drained the opening three-point shot, lighting the fire in the Tide that stayed burning for 32 minutes.
“She (Pentz) has done that before for us, coming off the bench early, and scoring points,” Desmett said. “She’s got big shoes to fill next year, as she’s taking over for Sarah.”
Jacobson also acknowledged her young teammate, and all the underclassmen, saying “I am very happy to see these younger girls step up, get the experience. It shows that we have a lot of talent going forward.”
Curwensville opened the night with a 9-0 run that was halted at the 2:15 mark of the opening quarter when Sheffield’s Lily Lauffenburger hit a free throw. The Lady Wolverines did not get their first field goal of the game until a minute later. The Lady Tide held a 14-5 advantage after one, and followed it up with an equally intense second quarter, putting up 13 points on buckets from Jacobson and Alyssa Bakaysa.
Defensively, Curwensville kept the zone defense all game long, utilizing the 1-3-1 setup, but brought the pressure up to the half-court line. Desmett acknowledged it was something they had just started using, but it was effective.
“We just started using that a bit against Moshannon Valley, and we played it a bit tonight. It was effective,” he said.
The press defense led to a lot of scoring off turnovers, as Sheffield committed 27 in all, with most coming on Jacobson’s steals. She led all scorers on the night with 23 points, adding in four rebounds, five assists and five steals in her swan song game. Jacobson over the final three games averaged 16 points a game, but actually credited it mostly with her teammates making smart decisions.
“My teammates passed the ball effectively, and it led to opportunities. It is really nice finishing out the season with three wins,” Jacobson said.
Swindell also got in on the double digits, as she finished with 12 points, adding in another five boards and six assists.
Curwensville’s best defensive quarter was the third, as they were already feeling strong after a buzzer-beating trey by Jacobson to take a 27-11 advantage into the locker room. The Lady Tide held Sheffield to only one field goal in the quarter, coming with just over a minute remaining, while extending the lead to 35-13.
Sheffield was led in scoring by Alyssa Dunham with 10 points, but were limited to only seven field goals, shooting just over six percent from the floor.
With the game solidly in their favor in the fourth quarter, after Swindell hit her second three-point shot of the game, Desmett called timeout to give his two seniors a sendoff that was earned not just this night, but over the last three games, and over the course of the last three years. Desmett admitted that it has not been easy on the seniors, as both Jacobson and Swindell came on as sophomores.
“They hung in there through a lot of hard times. I just wish we could’ve got them to the playoffs,” he said. “We were hoping these last three games we could win out, and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We told them, ‘Don’t quit. Just play with pride.’ They certainly did.”
Curwensville finished the year at 7-15, but Desmett was already looking not just to next season, but the summer break.
“We have to keep the confidence up, and work well through the summer,” he said. “You actually get better over the summer. During the (school) year, it’s a gelling deal, since you have limited time. In the summer, that’s when you get better.
“That’s what I told them in there, that you get better over the summer. There’s two class acts (Jacobson and Swindell), along with Hannah. If you follow what they did, you’ll be alright.”
Jacobson, after taking in one last gathering with her teammates, echoed her coach, saying “I cannot wait to see what next year brings for them. These coaches are great, we have a lot of talent. It’s going to be fun to see where they go.”
SCORE BY QUARTER
Sheffield 5 6 2 6 – 19
Curwensville 14 13 6 16 – 51
Sheffield – 19
Schmader 3 0-0 6, Grubs 0 0-0 0, Goldthweight 1 0-0 2, Lauffenburger 0 1-2 1, Dunham 3 4-4 10, Brush 0 0-0 0, Ordiway 0 0-0 0, Lyon 0 0-0 0, Gregerson 0 0-0 0, Frederick 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 7 5-8 19.
Curwensville – 51
Jacobson 10 1-2 23, Swindell 5 0-0 12, Bakaysa 4 1-2 9, Henry 1 0-2 2, Cossar 0 0-0 0, Anderson 0 0-0 0, Caldwell 0 0-0 0, Pentz 2 0-0 5, Weber 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 22 2-6 51.
Three-Point Shots: Jacobson-2, Swindell-2, Pentz
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|
|01/08||GLENDALE||17 – 58||2 – 7|
|01/10||@ Harmony||52 – 36||3 – 7|
|01/14||ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC||14 – 27||3 – 8|
|01/17||@ Kane||23 – 49||3 – 9|
|01/21||@ Ridgway||13 – 30||3 – 10|
|01/24||BROCKWAY||33 – 51||3 – 11|
|01/27||@ Clearfield||33 – 34||3 – 12|
|01/30||@ Philipsburg-Osceola||31 – 34||3 – 13|
|01/31||@ Johnsonburg||45 – 24||4 – 13|
|02/04||DUBOIS CENTRAL||26 – 38||4 – 14|
|02/05||@ Glendale||26 – 64||4 – 15|
|02/07||SHEFFIELD||ppd.||4 – 15|
|02/10||HARMONY||66 – 45||5 – 15|
|02/12||MO VALLEY||51 – 41||6 – 15|
|02/14||SHEFFIELD||51 – 19||7 – 15|