HYDE — With the holiday spirit show all around with the student body and the cheerleaders, the Clearfield Bison took to the hardwood inside the Bison Gymnasium on a night where the chill outside certainly made it feel like Christmas. They were hoping to not have cold shooting, as the Eagles from Bald Eagle Area made the trip from Wingate to test the waters in a key early-season Mountain League showdown.
The visitors were focused on keeping Cole Miller, the top scorer through four games, in check for the contest, and for most of the time did just that. But, what it also did was give other teammates a chance to shine, and they did as the supporting cast played tough defense, forced turnovers, and made baskets. Clearfield finished the night with production from its entire roster, keeping their unbeaten season intact, 65-39.
“We had a couple early possessions where we didn’t make smart decisions, and Bald Eagle scored on us because of it,” Bison head coach Nate Glunt said afterwards. “In the second half, we played much better fundamental basketball. That made it a lot more challenging for them, and if you’re not fundamentally sound, then there’s less shots you’re going to make.”
Clearfield got out to an early lead with a pair of buckets from Andon Greslick and Miller, but the Eagle defense shut down the Bison leading-scorer after the first eight minutes, as Miller’s 12 points all came in the first quarter. What that meant was his supporting cast had to find ways to get production, and they did not have to look further than Ryan Gearhart.
The senior proved how valuable he was not just as a shooter, but in his thought process, as he would account for six assists in addition to his game-high 22 points. Not only did he lead in scoring, he also had the most rebounds (7), and also accounted for eight steals.
“If you do that to a player like Cole, you’re just going to open up gaps, giving up lanes to penetrate. Cole worked really hard to get shots, but stayed patient and moved the ball. Nick (Collins) had a big bucket, then Isakk Way also playing well,” Glunt said. “Cole is getting a lot of attention, and he didn’t get a chance offensively because of how they were defending him. But, he never stopped playing hard on defense.
“He competed so hard on defense, and it shows his character.”
After one quarter, Clearfield led 21-14, and defensively would hold the Bald Eagles to a single field goal in the second quarter. Bald Eagle finished just under 25 percent shooting on the night, while also having 24 turnovers to their credit.
Gearhart’s big night began in the third quarter when he put up eight points, finishing 4-for-5 in the stanza. But the visitors kept it close, as they would stay even heading into the final frame.
At that point, the Bison defense took over, getting turnovers and putting up the points as the final frame saw the Bison put up 21, and late in the going allowed a lot of the second-team offense to get some minutes.
“We have eight guys (in our rotation) that can play, and we play cohesively as a team. When we can play as a team, we can have a chance to have some success,” Glunt said.
The junior varsity did not fair as well, losing to Bald Eagle, 56-38.
Glunt was already looking ahead to the next game, and the task is one of the tougher ones in the early part of the season. On Wednesday, his team travels to Morrisdale to face West Branch, and he was key to point out that the style of play of the Warriors is unlike anything the Bison have seen yet.
“Danny (Clark) does a fantastic job with those kids. They want to get up and down the floor, shoot three’s, and play zone defense. So we’re going to have to get back to work at practice to work on that,” he said.
Clearfield (5-0) and West Branch will tip off at 6 p.m. for the junior varsity, with the varsity slated for 7:30 p.m.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Bald Eagle 14 6 12 7 – 39
Clearfield 21 11 12 21 – 65
Bald Eagle Area – 39
Kahale Burns 3 0-0 6, Chase Thompson 2 2-2 7, Alex Gavlock 0 2-2 2, Cam Wilkins 1 4-4 6, Blaze Angellolli 3 1-1 7 Tyler Serb 2 0-0 6, Kieran Jodon 0 0-0 0, Kaden Burns 0 1-2 1, Tre Greene 0 1-2 1, Aaron Sharp 0 1-2 1, Brayden Dubbs 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 11 12-15 39.
Clearfield – 65
Ryan Gearhart 9 3-6 22, Cole Miller 5 0-0 12, Isakk Way 4 0-0 9, Andon Greslick 4 0-0 9, Luke Pallo, 1 2-2 4, Nate Natoli 0 1-3 1, Nick Collins 1 0-0 2, Caleb Wilt 0 0-0 0, Kam Kasher 0 0-0 0, Kai Lynch 1 0-0 3, Justin Fletcher 0 0-0 0, Braylen Way 1 0-0 3, Adam Miller 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 26 6-11 65.
Three-Point Shooting: Thompson, Serb-2/Gearhart, Miller-2, I. Way, Greslick, Lynch, B. Way