BELLEFONTE — The middle of February has been a challenge to get any basketball to cooperate with the schedule of any school, as the cold temperatures and the snow this week have made it difficult to get games in on time. Even late in the week, the Clearfield Bison were set to travel to Bellefonte for a Friday night matchup with the Red Raiders. But, because of the impending snow that was coming, officials from Bellefonte made the decision to move the game to Saturday afternoon.
Considering the luck the Bison have experienced on Saturdays this year, they had no problem coming out for a matinee on the hardwood. This one, however came down to the wire as both squads would go tooth-and-nail for nearly the entire game. In the end, the Bison found a way to turn what appeared to be a potential loss into a come-from-behind triumph, taking down the Red Raiders in a thrilling 44-43 final.
Bison Head Coach Nate Glunt watched his team play tough defense in the opening quarter, holding Bellefonte to just a single field goal in eight minutes. The Red Raiders managed to make four free throws, but still found themselves trailing by a couple possessions, as Clearfield held a 12-6 advantage after one.
Not wanting to go quietly, Bellefonte came back in the second stanza to at certain times pull even with the visitors. Bellefonte, despite winning the quarter 10-9, it was Clearfield that held a three-possession advantage heading into the locker room, 21-16.
Neither team were willing to yield, and the third stanza continued the flow of the opening quarter, but Bellefonte seemed to find late momentum as they pulled to within just a single point of Clearfield. With the Bison up 31-30 after three quarters, it was becoming evident that Bellefonte was feeling it, and also were ready to get payback for their prior loss to the Bison back on February 5. That game came down to the fourth quarter, where the Bison came from behind late to achieve the 45-41 win.
This game, as if it was meant to be, came down to possession, execution, and determination.
Senior leadership by Karson Rumsky, who scored a game-high 18 points to go along with four steals, got things going in the final stanza, but the Red Raiders would not back down. With just over half the quarter gone, Clearfield once again found itself trailing Bellefonte, much as it did in the first game between these two. The biggest difference between then and Saturday was the Bison were not getting easy points courtesy of foul shots.
In the first game, a late flagrant foul helped push Clearfield to the lead, but in this case only Rumsky would go to the foul line. But, his two free throws in the fourth quarter, which were the only two the Bison had all game, would go in.
Cole Miller’s play in the paint was critical as well in this contest, as he pulled down six rebounds on the afernoon.
It was those efforts, along with the strong bench play of the Bison, that saw them get back in the lead with just under three minutes to go in the game. Bellefonte then had to take advantage of opportunities when given, and at certain times did so. Blair Eckley-Jones managed to score 15 points for the Red Raiders, including seven in the final stanza, but Bellefonte ran out of time as a critical missed free throw by Nick Way made the difference in the final quarter.
Glunt went on to speak of his team’s effort, saying, “These kids just have no quit. They battled all game long, and to come from behind, it shows their character.”
Clearfield (15-5) finishes out their regular season next week. The final home game for the 2021 season comes on Monday night when the Bison host Bald Eagle Area. The Eagles hosted Clearfield back on February 10, with Clearfield taking home a 67-39 victory. Tip-off for the final home game of the season is at 7:30 for varsity.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Clearfield 12 9 10 13 – 44
Bellefonte 6 10 14 13 – 43
CLEARFIELD – 44
Karson Rumsky 8 2-2 18, Luke Winters 3 0-0 6, Matt Pallo 0 0-0 0, Nick Ryan 2 0-0 4, Cole Miller 3 0-0 9, Ryan Gearhart 1 0-0 3, Jake Lezzer 0 0-0 0, Curvey Purkett 2 0-0 4, Morgen Billotte 0 0-0 0, Isakk Way 0 0-0 0, Nasheed Thompson 0 0-0 0, Luke Pallo 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 19 2-2 44.
BELLEFONTE – 43
Ty Kroell 3 0-0 7, Nick Way 4 3-6 13, Trevor Johnson 0 0-0 0, Alex Ebeling 2 0-0 5, Derek Cox 0 0-0 0, Dom Capperella 0 0-0 0, Cole Crissman 1 0-0 2, Davis Corman 0 0-0 0, Gannon Brungard 0 1-2 1, Jacob Corman 0 0-0 0, Blair Eckley-Jones 5 5-8 15, Gavin Fravel 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 15 9-16 43.