HYDE — At this point in 2020, the winter sports season across the Commonwealth was literally put on hold due to the pandemic. And even once the year began, schools didn’t let hardly anyone attend due to regulations. Fast forward to the new year, stepping inside the Bison Gymnasium had a much more familiar feeling. On either side of the hardwood, parents and fans were watching their sons and peers. The cheerleaders and mascot stood tall, and the student section was rowdy. It felt like a familiar night for Clearfield Bison basketball, and Bison head coach Nate Glunt welcomed his newest team to the court for the first time.
The opposition came from a familiar foe, one just up the road on Rt. 879, Matt Wassil’s Curwensville Golden Tide, looking to recover from a dismal campaign a year ago.
Although the two squads battled hard in the first half, keeping it interesting as the first 16 minutes ticked away, the second half was a defensive stand for the home squad. That effort, coupled with intelligent play and ball movement, gave the Bison the 74-47 win to start the 2021-22 season.
It wasn’t easy, because the Tide came out strong, even though they were down most of the opening quarter, as Ty Terry was knocking down shot after shot, putting up nine of the Tide’s 11 points in the opening stanza. That was something that going in Glunt knew he needed to be prepared for.
“He’s an excellent player, so were going to try and make the other guys beat us. Ryan Gearhart took on the challenge and was able to contain him. He’s so athletic and tall, you basically hope he misses, and we try to capitalize off that,” Glunt said. “Matt does a great job coaching him, putting him in a position to have success.”
At the same time, Gearhart and Andon Greslick were finding success in the opening stanza, combining for nine points while Luke Pallo added in another four. After one the Bison held a five-point advantage, but the game took such a dramatic turn in the second quarter, for both teams.
It started early because after going 0-for-5 from the floor in the first eight minutes, Clearfield’s Cole Miller, coming off a year where he was the second-leading scorer on the team, finally found a rhythm when he managed to put up nine points once he found good looks for the basket. Clearfield pushed out to a 24-11 lead at one point before Wassil elected to call a timeout to regroup.
Whatever he told his team on the bench ignited the offense because suddenly the team came out firing, making moves with the ball and getting Terry more looks. The rest of the team fed off the play and at one point pulled even with the Bison.
Heading into halftime, Curwensville found itself down just 38-35, but outscored Clearfield in the quarter, giving them a lot of energy and momentum heading to the locker room.
“I saw a lot of positive things here tonight. We have been working on at practice, knowing that Ty is going to get his (points) a lot of nights, but in order for us to be successful, he’s got to make other guys better,” Wassil said.
Through the first half, Terry was the offense for Curwensville, as he finished the night with a team-high 26 points, pulling in a double-double in the end as he recorded 10 rebounds. But, that offensive output mostly came in the first half, because the final two quarters saw the Bison take control in a hurry.
The two things that changed in the second half were turnovers, and rebounds. The Bison were able to force nine turnovers in the third quarter alone, which then led to points on breakaways and offensive possessions to make Curwensville’s second-quarter output go almost for naught. At the same time, when the Tide did have opportunities for points, the Bison were getting on the boards quickly. For Glunt, that was key because unlike a few of his previous teams, this squad doesn’t have the size he’s experienced in years past.
“We’re not real big, so everybody’s got to box out. It’s got to be a team rebounding game, and I thought we did a great job in that by limiting them to one shot,” Glunt said.
Clearfield’s defense kept Curwensville in check the entire second half, giving up just 12 total points. That was enough to give the Bison an edge on the opposite side of the floor. Miller would get hot in the third, putting up his highest output, and would finish the night with a game-high 27 points along with four rebounds and assists. Clearfield also had both Gearhart and Pallo in double-digits, finishing with 17 and 11 points, respectively.
At one point the Bison managed to put the Mercy Rule clock into effect, which this year was adjusted to being a 30-point gap instead of the previous 40-point gap, allowing a lot of the underclassmen to get some playing time.
The junior varsity put on a thriller to open the night, with Clearfield pulling off a 50-48 victory in overtime when a last-second shot under the basket bounced off the rim for Curwensville.
Heading into the new week, Clearfield (1-0) will be back on their home court hosting Philipsburg-Osceola on Monday night to start Mountain League play. Meanwhile, Curwensville (0-1) is on the road Monday to face Mount Union, which is their first game as part of the Inter County Conference after switching leagues following last season.
Both games have a 6 p.m. start for the junior varsity, with the varsity slated to tip at approximately 7:30 p.m.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Curwensville 11 24 5 7 – 47
Clearfield 16 22 21 15 – 74
Curwensville – 47
Andrew Wassil 0 0-0 0, Ty Terry 8 6-9 26, Tyler Lee 0 0-0 0, Danny McGarry 2 0-0 5, Grant Swanson 1 0-0 3, Davis Fleming 0 0-0 0, Chandler English 0 0-0 0, Brandon Holland 1 0-0 3, Parker Wood 4 0-0 8, Ayden Sutike 1 0-2 2. TOTALS 17 6-11 47.
Clearfield – 74
Ryan Gearhart 6 2-4 17, Cole Miller 10 1-2 27, Isakk Way 3 0-0 6, Andon Greslick 3 0-0 7, Luke Pallo 5 0-0 11, Nate Natoli 0 1-2 1, Nick Collins 2 1-2 5, Caleb Wilt 0 0-0 0, Kam Kushner 0 0-0 0, Kai Lynch 0 0-0 0, Justin Fletcher 0 0-0 0, Braylen Way 0 0-0 0, Adam Miller 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 29 5-10 74.
Three-Point Shots: Terry-4, McGarry, Swanson, Holland/Gearhart-3, Miller-6, Greslick, Pallo
Officials: Jim Raceed, Chuck Glasser, Doug Steeb