CURWENSVILLE — On nights when the senior players are honored, it is expected that they will be the ones topping the stat lines. But, some coaches believe the leadership they provide for all their teammates is the stat that matters most. Friday night, the Curwensville Golden Tide honored three players who began their careers back in elementary school, saw coaching changes, and multiple experiences. Dan McGarry, Aiden Sutika, and Ty Colton all got the start on the night as the Moshannon Valley Black Knights were ready for battle.
What made this night great is the seniors, they didn’t score the most points, but Tide head coach Josh Tkacik saw them do the little things right, and it led to big moments. At the night’s end, Curwensville did exactly what it wanted to do, and left Patton Hall with a 63-40 victory.
“The balance between what all our guys do, not just the seniors, is what we strive for,” Tkacik said. “I cannot say enough about Aiden, Ty, and Dan. All three of those guys have been cornerstones for the program this year. You don’t hear them complain nor moan; when they hear someone else do it, they’re the first to step up and go ‘We’ve got work to do’ and you saw that tonight.”
That effort for the seniors started when Sutika put the first points on the board, following a feed from McGarry. At that point, the unselfish attitude from the seniors began to rub off with the rest of the Tide. Davis Fleming took an early feed from Parker Wood, who came in for Sutika a few minutes into the first quarter, and added an assist when Fleming drained his first three-pointer on the night. All the while, no matter who was on the floor, Curwensville made it difficult for the Black Knights to get early shots. That said, Mo Valley began to reel in their counterpart, pulling to within a possession, however the Tide would pull away late in the first, taking a 17-12 lead after eight minutes.
The second quarter is when Curwensville began pouring on the pressure. Defensively, the Tide forced nine turnovers in the quarter, with McGarry grabbing a trio of steals that led to points, but not on fast breaks.
McGarry, realizing in some instances he wasn’t going to have the best look, fed his teammates including Chandler English, who put up nine of his 14 points in the quarter. McGarry finished the night with only seven points, but added eight boards, and led the team with five assists.
Curwensville limited the Black Knights to just nine points in the quarter, taking a 40-21 lead into the break.
The second half began a bit slower than what Tkacik was expecting, but only because neither team truly could get a run going. Gameplay was slowed because of turnovers, and fouls. Some of the calls were debatable, namely on rebounds, but that didn’t mean that some calls weren’t unwarranted.
“For the most part, the officials called a really good game. We got ourselves into certain positions that allowed Mo Valley to get into the bonus rather quickly,” Tkacik said. “But, yes, some of the calls were questionable. However, I don’t think it effected us to a great extent.”
The Tide did not get as much production in the third quarter as the previous two, but Fleming got hot. The sophomore point guard drained two of his five treys in the quarter, finishing the night with a game-high 19 points. He, English, and Wood all finished in double figures, with Wood just short of a double-double as he put up 10 points and nine rebounds.
Taking a 52-27 lead into the fourth quarter, Curwensville’s focus was to finish the game strong and close out the night victorious.
They did just that, despite being outscored by the Black Knights, 13-11, in the final eight minutes. Moshannon Valley’s Samuel Howard put up five of his team-high 12 points in the final quarter.
“This is the second game in a row where we’ve come out for the second half ready to go,” Tkacik said. “We talk about that a lot, and when you are working with young athletes, sometimes it’s hard to get that mental aspect to match the physical aspect. We’ve came out really strong the last two games in the third, and I feel that is so critical to winning these games.”
Fans were treated to a great prelude to the night as the junior varsity contest went down to the final seconds, with Curwensville hitting a trey on the baseline by Evan McCartney with three seconds left to take a 34-33 win.
Sitting at 6-7, when asked where his team was heading into the stretch run, Tkacik chuckled, because he does not want his team thinking too far ahead.
“What I’m looking at right now, and what our team is looking at right now, is Tuesday night, in Flinton, Pennsylvania, against the Glendale Vikings. We’re looking to go 1-0 that night,” he said. “We want to go out every time wanting to win, but I’d be lying to you that this past Tuesday night, against that same Glendale team, feeling bummed. That was a great game, but we didn’t play that night to our full potential.
“Tonight, we played better, but did not play to our full potential in some ways. We’re looking forward to another opportunity to play to our fullest potential come Tuesday night.”
Junior varsity will tip at approximately 6 p.m. with the varsity to follow.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Moshannon Valley 12 9 6 13 – 40
Curwensville 17 23 12 11 – 63
Moshannon Valley – 40
James Hummel 4 0-0 9, Tanner Kephart 1 0-0 3, Samuel Howard 3 3-5 12, Dreyden Gardner 1 1-2 3, Landyn Evans 3 2-2 8, Micah Beish 1 0-1 2, Kaden Kephart 0 0-0 0, Zach Reifer 0 0-0 0, Kyle Merrick 0 1-2 1, Landon Barley 0 0-0 0, Oscar Lin 1 0-0 2. TOTALS 14 7-12 40.
Curwensville – 63
Dan McGarry 3 0-0 7, Grant Swanson 1 0-2 3, Davis Fleming 5 4-5 19, Chandler English 4 5-6 14, Parker Wood 5 0-0 10, Louis Tkacik 0 0-0 0, Hunter Tkacik 1 2-3 4, Ty Colton 0 0-2 0, Aiden Sutika 2 0-0 4, Andrew Wassil 1 0-2 2. TOTALS 22 11-20 63.
- Shooting: 14-50/22-62
- Rebounds: 20/37
- Fouls: 17/19
- Turnovers: 23/19
- Three-Point Shots: Hummel, T. Kephart, Howard/McGarry, Swanson, Fleming-5, English