CURWENSVILLE — As the temperatures outside Patton Hall began to drop, things began heating up inside on the hardwood. The Golden Tide of Curwensville took to the floor was ready to take on the District 9 and Allegany Mountain League rival Brockway Rovers.
Fans on either side were getting into the action as neither team wanted to let the other get away from a tight contest. Through nearly 30 minutes of action, the largest lead for either side was five points, and it was coming down to the key possessions at the end of the night to determine the victory. Both teams knotted up, it was going to be a mistake or a key play that ultimately would push one side to victory.
That mistake came after a timeout by Curwensville, and took a matter of seconds.
The miscue gave Brockway the lead, and the Rovers continued to add on points on their way to a 58-50 triumph to stun the home squad.
Head coach Matt Wassil wasn’t so much frustrated with his team afterwards, but when asked if the final few minutes of the game made the difference, he was quick to say it was other possessions throughout the game that together resulted in the loss.
“Every play and every possession is important. That’s not to say that they aren’t in the last two minutes, but they do get a lot more focus,” he said. “What you do in those two minutes does determine outcomes, as far as if the game is close in that time.
“We had a couple plays during those two minutes where we just didn’t execute, and that caused us to come out on the losing end.”
Neither team wanted to establish itself early on, with the game knotted at 15 points each after one quarter. But, Curwensville found itself finding some momentum in the second quarter thanks to Josh Terry. Their big point guard was finding opportunity after opportunity on the floor, draining 10 of his game-high 28 points in the process. Despite the big eight minutes, Curwensville found themselves down two heading into halftime, but would get the ball to start the third quarter.
That ultimately was the best quarter for Curwensville, as they out-scored the Rovers 11-6 in the eight minutes, with Terry and Avery Francisco accounting for all the Tide’s points.
Francisco had another big night, finishing with a double-double with 10 points, 13 rebounds, plus adding in six assists, many of which went to Terry.
Not to be out shined, Christian Bakaysa added in another 10 points for Curwensville, all of which came in the first half.
With a three-point lead heading into the final quarter, Curwensville appeared ready to close it out. But, the Rovers were not letting up that easy. A pair of baskets by Zane Pubela, who finished with 10 points, gave Brockway the lead. Both squads went back-and-forth for five minutes. With an in-bounds pass from Curwensville getting trapped on the far sidelines, Wassil called a timeout with 2:42 remaining in the game.
Knowing that time was running short, each opportunity was becoming important.
The pass in from the sidelines was the pass that changed everything. Dakota Bloom took the ball, and passed to his right. The problem, Devon Barrett instead of moving towards the ball, swept around Carter Adams. Adams picked up the loose ball and made the immediate move right to the basket, giving Brockway the 52-50 lead, and the last of his team-high 18 points.
That was the final lead change on the night, as the Tide would put Brockway at the foul line on six more occasions in the final two minutes, four times by Noah Vokes and a pair by Pubela. All six shots went through the net.
“It’s unfortunate. I thought we played well with them. It was a good game between both teams, but we just didn’t execute in those last two minutes,” Wassil said. “I give Brockway credit, they matched us step-for-step. They stepped up and made their free throws when we put them at the line. We had some opportunities where we just didn’t convert, and that was the difference.”
Curwensville opened the night with a win in the junior varsity game, 40-26.
Wassil felt despite the loss, the team established itself on this night, especially since they just played the Rovers on Friday in another very close, physical game. He also felt there was still a lot left to accomplish with seven games remaining this season.
“It’s a character-building (game). We lost two big ones to Brockway, and now we have to bounce back. We still have goals ahead of us. Make the playoffs, win the Mo-Valley league,” he said. “We have a big Mo-Valley game Wednesday. Those things are still ahead of us, so we just need to have a strong mind.”
That game on Wednesday will send Curwensville (7-8) on the road to face the Glendale Vikings, with tip off for the jayvee contest at 6 p.m. and varsity to follow.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Brockway 15 19 6 18 – 58
Curwensville 15 17 11 7 – 50
Brockway – 58
Pubela 4 2-2 10, Salada 0 1-2 1, Vokes 2 5-6 9, Esposito 4 1-2 12, Adams 4 8-8 18, Freemer 2 0-0 5, J. Wood 1 0-0 3, J.D. Wood 0 0-0 0, Lecates 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 17 17-20 58.
Curwensville – 50
Terry 10 5-7 28, Barret 0 2-4 2, Stewart 0 0-0 0, VonGunden 0 0-0 0, Bloom 0 0-0 0, Bakaysa 4 2-3 10, Francisco 5 0-2 10. TOTALS 19 9-16 50.
Three-Point FG: Esposito (3), Adams (2), J. Wood, Freemer/Terry (3)
Golden Tide Scoreboard:
|12/08||@ Clearfield||52 – 54||0 – 1|
|12/11||WEST BRANCH||57 – 54 ot||1 – 1|
|12/15||@ Mo Valley||61 – 49||2 – 1|
|12/20||GLENDALE||82 – 47||3 – 1|
|12/28||@ Freeport Tourney|
|12/28||vs. Freeport||54 – 85||3 – 2|
|12/29||vs. Mercyhurst Prep||32 – 46||3 – 3|
|01/03||@ Ridgway||32 – 52||3 – 4|
|01/05||BROCKWAY||ppd.||3 – 4|
|01/09||DUBOIS CENTRAL CATH||58 – 49||4 – 4|
|01/11||HARMONY||90 – 74||5 – 4|
|01/12||BROCKWAY||ppd.||5 – 4|
|01/16||@ Elk County Catholic||46 – 78||5 – 5|
|01/19||KANE||58 – 45||6 – 5|
|01/22||MO VALLEY||60 – 53||7 – 5|
|01/23||RIDGWAY||44 – 57||7 – 6|
|01/26||@ Brockway||48 – 53||7 – 7|
|01/30||BROCKWAY||50 – 58||7 – 8|
|02/06||@ DuBois Central Catholic|
|02/07||@ West Branch|