HYDE — The last two days for the Clearfield Bison basketball team have been a challenge to say the least. Entering Saturday night, their schedule got maneuvered to where in a 24-hour period, they had to be on the hardwood for three games. First came on the road against Tyrone on Friday night, resulting in a loss. The second round was a late-morning matinee on Saturday against Curwensville, resulting in a dominant victory.
The final game in the trio was a late-afternoon contest on Saturday against the Central Dragons, who just faced Clearfield a week ago to hand the Bison what was their second loss of the season. The Bison, meanwhile, had only a few hours rest to get prepared for the Mountain League throwdown after the victory over Curwensville, so the anticipation was extremely high on both sides of the court.
This contest, ironically, went very similar to the one the week prior, as the first half saw both squads go hard through the first half. But, Clearfield had a stunning fall in the third quarter, and Central capitalized, handing Clearfield it’s fourth loss of the season, 59-45.
The stunning fall came because the Bison failed to put up a single point in the third quarter, something head coach Nate Glunt said was all because of how Central played defensively.
“I give Central a lot of credit. They came out (in the third quarter) and played tough defense. We got good shots, they just didn’t go in,” he said. “That’s two games in a row (in the Mountain League) that we haven’t scored in the third quarter.
“I have to do a better job; that’s on me. I have to get us better shots to take, make sure we make those shots, and maybe get some more rebounding. That is my responsibility.”
The same could be said to start the game as the Bison were cold shooting to start the game, as the Dragons went out to a 7-0 lead before Glunt called a timeout. Clearfield bounced back to pull within a few possessions, but still trailed 17-9 after one. However, things changed dramatically in the second quarter as the Bison began making shots, and the pressure defense allowed them to chip away at the Dragons, eventually taking the lead with just over two minutes remaining in the half. At the same time, both teams saw the physicality go up ten-fold as the Dragons committed eight fouls in the quarter, with four of them being offensive control fouls, some of which the coaching staff couldn’t believe.
At the break, Clearfield held a 28-27 advantage, but it was Central that got the ball first in the second half. That was when things went downhill for the home squad.
Clearfield got looks at the basket, both beyond the arc, in the paint, and even right underneath the net. But, as good as the shots were, the Bison ended the quarter 0-for-13 from the floor, and had no opportunities at the free throw line. Add in the addition of eight team fouls, and it became a hole that the Bison could not overcome.
Glunt noted that the last three Mountain League contests were extremely similar in how the game went, not just the results.
“It’s like Groundhog Day. We play really hard in the first half, then in the third quarter, the kids are not playing bad by any means, it’s just shots are not going in,” Glunt said.
The third quarter also saw a pair of Dragon starters, Hunter Klotz and Hunter Smith, both get four fouls to their name. However, each would rotate in and play smarter when they did have that many fouls, and would stay in the game till the end. Although Smith did not score, Klotz finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
“They played really smart with four fouls. Central is a very well-coached team,” Glunt said.
Klotz was one of four Dragons to finish with double-figures. Seth Bean led all the Dragons with 15 points, from the bench, while Cassimier Lowery added 14 and Devon Boyles accounted for 12. Boyles finished with a double-double with 10 rebounds, a trio of assists and also had five blocks.
Clearfield got back on track in the final stanza, finishing with 17 points, but at that point the gap was too much to overcome. Karson Rumsky led the Bison in the last quarter, scoring 11 of his game-high 18 points in the final eight minutes.
Despite the loss, Glunt looked at a lot of positives on the night, especially from his bench players and their contributions.
“We are developing depth. Jake Lezzer is getting better, Curby (Purkett) is getting better. The kids battled, and we’re playing a little different defense with us being able to full-court press,” he said. “We just have to find a way to score in the third quarter.”
Clearfield would win the opening junior varsity contest, 42-32.
Sitting at 7-4, Glunt is glad to have this stretch of games done. Three games in a 24-hour span is hard on anyone, but one thing that impressed him more than anything is the fact his team had no fatigue set in, especially considering the first game in the day finished just hours before they took the court for warmups against the Dragons.
“The kids battled, and they play so hard, and are in great shape. The shots (we missed), they weren’t short, that’s how you know they would be fatigued,” he said. “They were long, or to the side, and we had a layup that just missed off the side of the rim.”
“If we were fatigued, in the fourth quarter we wouldn’t have scored either. Sometimes in basketball, you just need one shot to go in. Just to get this first one to go in, and all of a sudden it opens up. We just couldn’t get that first one to go in.”
Clearfield is in the midst of six consecutive games at home, with four of them happening next week. It will start with a non-league matchup on Monday against the West Branch Warriors, with the varsity tip-off set for 7:30 p.m.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Central 17 10 16 16 – 59
Clearfield 9 19 0 17 – 45
CENTRAL – 59
Klotz 4 1-4 10, Boyles 5 2-6 12, Lingenfelter 2 1-2 5, Smith 0 0-0 0, Lowery 6 1-1 14, Bean 6 2-2 15, Brumbaugh 1 1-2 3, Daugherty 0 0-0 0, Yingling 0 0-0 0, Rhule 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 24 8-17 59.
CLEARFIELD – 45
Matt Pallo 0 0-0 0, Nick Ryan 2 0-0 4, Luke Winters 2 2-3 6, Karson Rumsky 8 0-0 18, Cole Miller 3 0-0 8, Ryan Gearhart 1 1-1 3, Jake Lezzer 1 0-0 2, Morgan Billotte 0 0-0 0, Curby Purkett 1 2-2 4. TOTALS 18 5-6 45.
Three-Point Shots: Klotz, Lowery, Bean/Rumsky-2, Miller-2
Foul Out: Pallo