HOUTZDALE — The first two games of the season for Matt Wassil and his Golden Tide squad have been the same kind of play, but with different results. A down-to-the-wire contest with Clearfield saw them end with a two-point loss. Earlier this week, it took an extra four minutes for Curwensville to finish with their first win of the year.
Hoping to take that momentum into their next contest, Curwensville loaded up the bus to make a drive up Route 53 in the bitter cold to face the Moshannon Valley Black Knights.
In the beginning, it looked like a one-sided game. But things changed after eight minutes. In the end, Curwensville managed to keep the momentum when it counted. After the final buzzer went off, the Tide got their second win of the week with a 61-49 triumph over the Black Knights, a score that didn’t showcase the dominance Curwensville had on the night.
The Tide got the intensity rolling on the offensive side of the ball right away. Defensively in the first quarter, they too had things in their hands.
Curwensville dominated the first eight minutes, holding the home squad to a single basket to finish the opening stanza 18-2. But, the lone bucket by the Black Knights with just over 20 seconds remaining started a 10-0 run over the next three minutes to pull Moshannon Valley within eight. Wassil was perplexed by the play of his team, but also could sense and see what happened.
“I think we stopped playing with intensity, and they kept playing. They didn’t give in and kept with it,” Wassil said after. “I thought our kids relaxed and thought the game was over. It wasn’t; I give Mo Valley credit because they kept battling.
“When that happens, you kind of get out of rhythm a little bit. They got right back in the game.”
Wassil called a time out to get his team focused once again, and that did the trick. One player who really listened was junior Avery Francisco. From the beginning he was a huge asset for Curwensville in the paint, working his way to the basket to catch a board or at least cause havoc so one of his teammates had an opportunity to gain the rebound. His night ended with a double-double, 10 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
“He’s been that way all year, averaging 17 rebounds per game. He just has a knack for it, the body for it,” Wassil said. “He’s strong, and when he gets his hands on it, he has it (the ball). Doesn’t surprise me at all. He is a presence.”
His play on the boards helped keep Curwensville in the game, despite losing the quarter, 16-8. With Mo Valley getting the ball to start the second half, the Tide knew they needed to up the intensity.
In the third quarter, they did just that. Huge baskets by Josh Terry, Devon Barrett and Christian Bakaysa put Curwensville up by 11 heading into the final stanza.
Terry had a strong night, finishing with a team-high 16 points combined with four rebounds and six assists plus four steals.
The Black Knights still would not quit, pushing themselves to keep it close in the final quarter. Buckets by Alex Kitko and Ben Murawski kept Moshannon Valley close, with Kitko finishing with a game-high 17 points. However, foul trouble forced Curwensville to the line 10 times in the final quarter, and Wassil saw all but a pair make it through the rim.
“I think in the fourth quarter, they started to pressure a little bit. I think our guys didn’t respond to whether attack or pull it back,” Wassil said. “When there’s seven minutes left in the game, you have to attack. I think we were a little too tentative, and that played right into their hands. But, we made our foul shots and kept our lead.”
Curwensville finished with a pair of victories, taking the win in the opening jayvee game, 38-29.
Although happy with the play of his team, Wassil saw room for improvement from his squad, especially when it came to putting together four strong quarters, saying, “(We need) more consistency. Our intensity was great at times, and that gave us those leads, but as soon as we got the lead we relaxed. We have to keep that intensity up for 32 minutes.”
Although for Wassil, having a game that did not have the same feel as the ones against Clearfield and West Branch certainly was a welcome change.
“It was nice to at least know it wasn’t coming down to the last possession,” he said with a smile. “It was also nice to get some guys into the rotation, too, for longer periods of time. In a long season, you’re going to need guys off the bench to contribute. That allowed us to get some of those guys some minutes.
“If we can get that kind of play from our bench, that’s key. We were averaging around 54 points a game, and tonight we got to 61. That’s our bench, because in the first two games we didn’t get a lot of scoring off our bench guys. Tonight that helped.”
Curwensville (2-1) has a short week with one game before school is out for the holidays, that coming on Wednesday night when they host the Vikings of Glendale. Tip for the jayvee contest is at 6 p.m. with varsity to follow.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Curwensville 18 8 16 19 – 61
Moshannon Valley 2 16 13 18 – 49
Curwensville – 61
Terry 5 6-9 16, Barrett 5 2-2 14, VonGunden 1 2-4 5, Bakaysa 5 1-1 11, Francisco 3 4-5 10, Irwin 0 0-0 0, Bloom 1 0-1 3, McKenrick 0 0-0 0, Stewart 1 0-0 2. TOTALS 21 15-22 61.
Moshannon Valley – 49
Kitko 6 2-2 17, Murawski 5 2-2 13, Butler 1 0-0 2, Bacher 3 1-3 7, Reed 4 2-8 10, Captus 0 0-0 0, Matchack 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 19 7-15 49.
Three-Point Baskets: Barrett (2), VonGunden, Bloom; Kitko (3), Murawski
Foul Outs: Bakaysa
Golden Tide Scoreboard:
|@ Clearfield||12/08||52 – 54||0 – 1|
|WEST BRANCH||12/11||57 – 54 ot||1 – 1|
|@ Mo Valley||12/15||61 – 49||2 -1|
|@ Freeport Tourney||12/28|
|@ Freeport Tourney||12/29|
|DUBOIS CENTRAL CATH||01/09|
|@ Elk County Catholic||01/16|
|@ DuBois Central Catholic||02/06|
|@ West Branch||02/07|