CURWENSVILLE — A strong crowd escaped the rain on Thursday night for a Moshannon Valley League showdown on the hardwood inside Patton Hall. After dropping the last two games, the Curwensville Golden Tide were hoping that the home court advantage would give them an edge. On the opposite side, the West Branch Warriors were coming in the winners of two straight, looking better after a very difficult start to the season.
No one was disappointed as the game would be a back-and-forth showdown that saw each team answer one another nearly shot for shot. In fact, through the first half, the statistics were almost identical. The Warriors came out in the second half with quickness, and got ahead quickly, enough that Curwensville could not answer back, as the Tide fell 57-47 at the final horn.
Coach Eric Duriancik, who was filling in for head coach Matt Wassil due to protocols, saw his team go into halftime with some momentum, but also saw a familiar feeling and performance from the team once the second half began.
“They (West Branch) came out aggressively in the third quarter, and executed more stuff. Our achilleas heel the last few weeks has been exactly that,” Duriancik said. “On Monday (against Williamsburg), we were down four at halftime, and many others we were either slightly behind or ahead at the half, and yet the first few minutes of the third quarter has killed us.”
“The other teams execute, and we haven’t done as well doing that.”
The teams could not have been more even through the first 16 minutes of play. West Branch had a solid start to the night as Zach Tiracorda accounted for nearly half of the team’s first 16 points. But, Curwensville continued to answer back, either getting the lead or tying it up. After the first quarter, the Tide only faced a one-possession gap. The second quarter saw the home squad turn up the pressure, and the intense play in the paint from Parker Wood kept the Tide in the game.
Wood put up nine of the team’s 10 points in the frame, while the defense contested shots and got rebounds. In 16 minutes, both squads put up 24 points. Each team went 9-for-30 on the floor. West Branch accounted for one more rebound than Curwensville, and yet the Tide forced one more turnover. The game went into the halftime break without truly seeing who was the better team.
West Branch head coach Danny Clark knew the game would be close, but also sensed that how the Warriors came out of the locker room would tell the story of the game.
“Momentum, that’s exactly what it was. They (Curwensville) did not get many second chances in the second half. We got some guys in different spots, and got them standing up in their zone defense, which opened up some different lanes for us,” Clark said.
Clark was right in the aspect of the lanes opening up, as the Warriors opened the half quickly thanks to a bucket from Kyle Kolesar to give them the lead. Shortly after, Jackson Croyle found an open spot at the left wing to put up a three-ball, which hit directly in the net to put the Warriors up by five, a lead they would not relinquish. However, Curwensville was not letting the game get out of reach. A couple quick timeouts in a matter of two minutes, and Curwensville was back in it couresty of a pair of buckets from Ty Terry.
Curwensville still was down by five entering the final few eight minutes, and knew the start of the quarter was key.
But, the Warriors came out quickly, as they extended the lead to 10 thanks to Tiracorda and Owen Koleno. The Tiracorda brothers would both hit double figures, with Zach having the game-high 18 and Isaac adding in 13. Koleno accounted for another 10. Isaac added in another five rebounds, and five steals to his stat line.
Still, Curwensville was not going down easily. At one point, the game was a 12-point deficit, yet the Tide would battle back to pull to within five, something that Clark certainly noticed.
“We thought we were going to break it there when we got it to 12 (point lead), but then they cut it down to five. It got dicey there for a bit, but the guys relaxed and executed,” he said.
Curwensville was forced to put the Warriors to the foul line late to potentially get possessions on the missed shots. That strategy worked as West Branch was not strong at the line, finishing 10-for-19, but key misses from both Tiracordas and Kolesar gave Curwensville opportunities to get back down the court. Sadly, a lot of the possessions would result in missed shots, and missed rebounds. West Branch then extended the game late with a couple late buckets to put the final score at 57-47.
For the Tide, Terry would lead the scoring with 17 points, adding in three steals. Wood finished with a double-double, 13 points with 11 rebounds, plus three blocks.
Duriancik saw the Tide fall to 3-7, but do so by fighting hard and not quitting, and that was something that he felt could be built on as the season progressed.
“We absolutely could not fault their effort. The biggest things that hurt us were turnovers, and giving them second chances,” he said. “That’s self-inflicted. We fought back to within five, but we ran out of offensive bullets at that point.”
Curwensville fell as well in the junior varsity game, 41-28.
There won’t be much time to recoup for the Tide as they are back on the court Friday night as they travel to face Brockway.
SCORE BY QUARTER
West Branch 16 8 13 20 – 57
Curwensville 14 10 8 15 – 47
West Branch – 57
Joel Evans 1 2-4 4, Jackson Croyle 3 0-0 8, Isaac Tiracorda 6 1-4 13, Zach Tiracorda 6 3-5 18, Kyle Kolesar 1 2-4 4, Owen Koleno 3 2-2 10, Zach McGonigal 0 0-0 0, Lucas Colton 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 20 10-19 57.
Curwensville – 47
Andrew Wassil 0 0-0 0, Ty Terry 6 3-4 17, Tyler Lee 0 0-0 0, Danny McGarry 2 0-0 4, Davis Fleming 3 0-2 7, Chandler English 2 0-0 4, Parker Wood 5 3-3 13, Ayden Sutike 1 0-0 2. TOTALS 19 6-9 47.
Three-Point Shots: Croyle-2, Z. Tiracorda, Koleno-2/Terry-2, Fleming