HYDE — For the first time in the new season, the Lady Bison of Clearfield had the chance to don the white jerseys. On Friday night, many firsts took place on the young season. It was the first home game of the new campaign inside the Bison Gymnasium. It was the first home Mountain League game of the season, as the Lady Bearcats of Huntingdon provided the opposition, and it was the first opportunity since the loss to Central to get back to .500 on the year.
It took only two seconds to know what the night would entail.
That is how quickly it took for Clearfield to take the lead, and it was a lead that was never relinquished. Clearfield outscored Huntingdon in three of the four quarters, and kept their up-tempo offense running for 32 minutes. At the final buzzer, the Lady Bison saw a final score of 43-35, earning their second win of the season.
Head coach Joey Castagnolo was smiling when discussing the play of his team, particularly how his team is not the tallest in the Mountain League, but how they compensate in being ultra quick.
“It’s a different type of team. They are all quick, and always want to push. I know it could be detrimental to our health by getting tired, but not these girls. They thrive on it,” Castagnolo said.
That quickness immediately went on showcase at the opening tip. Ally Lindstrom quickly nailed the ball to the positive side of the court, and Alayna Ryan picked it up, going untouched to the hoop. In two seconds, the score was 2-0. It was the first lead change of the night, and ultimately the only lead change all game. That basket launched an 8-0 run for Clearfield to start the game, with six of those points coming from Ryan in transition.
Ryan had the best night of her young career. In just her second year, her first home game as a starter, Ryan led all scoring with 20 points, shooting 8-for-15 on the floor, and added in three rebounds, five assists, and a block. Older sister Emily, who graduated this past spring, was in attendance and could tell the leadership she had last year was instilled in Alayna for this year.
Castagnolo also took notice of his young forward, saying, “As a sophomore, what a leader. She knows when to put the pressure on, and when to pull it back.”
Clearfield ended the first quarter up 8-5, as Huntingdon didn’t get their first basket until nearly halfway into the quarter. The quickness of the Lady Bison proved difficult to deal with. The Lady Bearcats mishandled the ball often, turning it over 29 times, which led to easy layups for Ryan and Lindstrom. In the second quarter, those turnovers were causing even more difficulties for Huntingdon as just like in the first quarter, Clearfield started the segment with a run, this one being 10 straight, and the Lady Bison headed into halftime with a 21-14 cushion.
Castagnolo noted the second quarter was successful thanks to Nikki Chew and Nicholette Brossard. Neither scored any points in the quarter, but their play at the basket was critical in leading to points by their teammates.
“They had some nice, key rebounds. These girls know they aren’t going to score many points, but they know their role. They get the rebound, get it to the guards, and we go,” he said. “We are very unselfish.”
Chew ended the night with nine rebouinds, while Brossard pulled in another four.
Huntingdon’s struggles continued in the third quarter, which led to a substitution of the starting five at one point due to the lack of productivity. The lone Lady Bearcat to make double figures in scoring was Maddie Gearhart, who had 10 points plus seven rebounds.
Still, it wasn’t enough for the visitors as Clearfield continued to pull away.
It was not all pretty for the home squad as both Chew and Lindstrom got into foul trouble in the second half, something that Castagnolo said before the season started would be crucial to not happen to any of the starting five this season. Both got to within one foul of being forced to watch from the bench. Yet, instead of taking chances, both used their heads and made intelligent decisions to make sure they stayed on the floor.
“I think that’s what they are learning now is that we don’t have much of a bench, and they have to play smart, and not foul out,” Castagnolo said.
The junior varsity contest did not go the same way for Clearfield, as they got Mercy Ruled in a 58-5 thumping by Huntingdon.
Clearfield sits at 2-2, 1-1 in the Mountain League, and Castagnolo is pleased with the progress that his team has made in just four games. But, he knows it’s still early in the year, and more work will be needed as the year progresses. Yet, he’s enjoying the success that his team has at this moment.
“I’m happy how we’re sitting. We played a tough Central team this week, but we’re winning the games we should,” Castagnolo said.
The Lady Bison are back in action on Monday as they host Bellefonte. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. for the junior varsity game. Varsity will follow.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Huntingdon 7 7 6 15 – 35
Clearfield 8 13 14 8 – 43
Huntingdon – 35
Miller 1 2-2 4, Gulshaw 0 0-0 0, R. Kyle 2 0-0 4, Reamax 0 0-0 0. E. Kyle 0 2-4 2, McElroy 2 0-0 4, Kurtz 1 0-0 2, Easter 2 0-0 4, Trice 0 0-0 0, Troup 1 1-2 3, Gearhart 5 0-0 10, Keller 0 0-0 0, Querry 1 0-0 2. TOTALS 15 5-8 35.
Clearfield – 43
Brossard 3 0-2 6, Chew 0 0-0 0, Cline 6 1-2 13, Ryan 8 4-4 20, Lindstrom 2 0-2 4, Gisewhite 0 0-0 0, Clark 0 0-0 0, McLain 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 19 5-10 43.
Lady Bison Scoreboard:
|12/09&10||@ Brookville Tip-off Tourney|
|12/09||vs. Clarion-Limestone||64 – 22||1 – 0|
|12/10||vs. North Clarion||39 – 51||1 – 1|
|12/14||@ Central||24 – 64||1 – 2|
|12/16||HUNTINGDON||43 – 35||2 – 2|
|01/06||BALD EAGLE AREA|
|01/10||@ Penns Valley|
|02/01||@ Penns Valley|