HYDE — There have been special moments over the course of the many careers in Clearfield Bison basketball. Some have occurred in high spots, some in losing efforts, but every one of them is important. Entering Thursday night, the Bison had one player on the brink of a monumental occasion. Cole Miller, a four-year veteran of the squad, was so close, just six points, to becoming the No. 1 Bison scorer in program history. On the opposing side, the DuBois Central Catholic (DCC) Cardinals were hoping to do everything possible to keep that from happening.
It took just under 10 minutes of playing time before the crowd erupted, seeing Miller eclipse the record with jubilation and happiness. Shortly after, the focus came back to the game, one that Clearfield had their back against the wall for the first half. However, a strong second-half effort across the board made Miller’s record-breaking night a victorious one, as Clearfield topped the Cardinals, 65-52.
“Cole has been around for a long time. To get that record, that is effort, work. You don’t get it easily,” Bison head coach Nate Glunt said afterwards. “It’s four seasons of hard work, and Will scored a lot of points for us. To see Cole break that record, it is truly an accomplishment.”
Just getting an opportunity to break the record was a challenge, as the Cardinals were playing him tight in the first quarter, as he was unable to make his first five shots. As a group, Clearfield would not get on the board until Morgen Billotte got an inside look. By then, the Bison were already down. Needing six points to officially set the record, Miller finally got four of those points courtesy of a foul shot, and then a deep trey on the wing. Still, Clearfield found itself trailing 15-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Things went a lot different in the second quarter. Miller found himself a spot and looked for a three from the top of the key. The ball missed the mark, but a quick rebound by the Bison and the possession still continued. DCC left Miller in a spot just inside the left wing, a spot that wasn’t a deep shot, but still an open look. A dish and an opportunity is all he needed. At the 6:33 mark in the second quarter, Miller would put that shot up, and it saw nothing except the bottom of the net.
At that point, the entire crowd erupted to celebrate an incredible moment. His father Gene, a Bison assistant coach, came out to embrace him, and the man who he overtook to claim the record, Will Myers, joined them at mid-court.
For Miller, he never even knew how the opportunity came about.
“It happened so fast. I don’t even know who got the rebound, but suddenly I got the pass and put the shot up,” he said. “All I heard was the crowd roar. It was just surreal.”
With the record intact, the focus shifted back to the game. For Clearfield, that seemed to be an advantage, because they were on lockdown defensively, holding the Cardinals to 1-for-7 shooting in the quarter. What was a nine-point gap for the Cardinals was suddenly was an 18-16 deficit going into the locker room.
That is when Miller and his supporting cast suddenly found themselves making plays that were not able to be completed in the first half. Miller alone in the third quarter put up 11 of his game-high 25 points, but it was his teammates that made just as big of plays. Braison Patrick found himself in key spots, putting up seven of his 13 points in the quarter.
Clearfield outscored its total from the first half in just one quarter, putting up 22 points to take a four-point advantage into the final quarter, 38-34.
“Total team effort for us in that second half,” Glunt said. “Those big three’s there by Tony (Anthony Lopez) and Morgen, then Braison with that plus-one with his left hand, probably his best game to date.”
Miller concurred with his coach, stating, “Once we got the record, I feel everyone calmed down and just decided to play. It felt like we got into that rhythm, and that compelled us into winning…DCC did a great job, but we had so many people knocking down shots. It’s a team effort to win it, and that’s what made it better.”
The fourth quarter was about making shots when needed, especially at the foul line. The Bison took advantage, going to the line 18 times over the final period, and only missing four. The final four shots coming from both Patrick and Billotte, who finished the night with 14 points.
The Cardinals would not quit, but as the final quarter wore on, the lead went from being as low as a single basket to over three possessions. In the end, Luke Swisher led DuBois Central Catholic in scoring, bucketing 19 on the night, while Andrew Green added in another 15.
Clearfield did drop the under card to the visitors in a tight 53-50 showdown.
With Miller taking in a lot of congrats from fans, friends, the student body and his family, Glunt took a moment to look down at the hardwood and think about all the support the team had on this night, and over the course of the season.
“I think half our student body was here to support our team, and to support Cole,” he said. “Great atmosphere tonight, Will Myers came back, a lot of alums came back.”
Miller, by contrast, was taking in the achievement but was already thinking about the next obstacle. Clearfield (14-6) has a few days to savor the win, but also had to refocus into getting prepared for the Curwensville Golden Tide to come in and give them a challenge come Tuesday, February 14. The two squads started the season against one another, with the Bison taking a 52-39 win in Patton Hall. But, the new leader in scoring for the Bison knew that the team they saw on that night is a much different team now, especially since a majority of the Tide were in attendance to watch on Thursday.
“I know Curwensville will play us tough. We went down there first game of the year, you saw it. They played really well then,” Miller said. “We’re going to be right back to work. We will celebrate tonight, but tomorrow we are right back to work.”
Tip-off for the jayvees will be at 6 p.m. and the varsity will follow.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Dubois Catholic 15 3 16 18 – 52
Clearfield 6 10 22 27 – 65
Dubois Catholic – 52
Brendan Paisley 4 2-3 10, Dylan Hanna 0 0-0 0, Andrew Green 4 4-4 15, Luke Swisher 7 5-9 19, Ben Gritzer 0 0-0 0, Marek Hoyt 3 1-1 8, Luke Fragle 0 0-0 0, Johnny Varischetti 0 0-0 0, Brayden Fox 0 0-0 0, Trenton Miller 0 0-0 0, Angelo Pitch 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 18 12-17 52.
Clearfield – 65
Luke Pallo 1 1-2 3, Kam Kushner 0 0-0 0, Kai Lynch 0 0-0 0, Braison Patrick 3 7-7 13, Andon Greslick 2 0-0 5, Anthony Lopez 1 0-0 3, Morgen Billotte 5 2-2 14, Skylar Clark 0 0-0 0, 8 6-10 25, Peyton Reasinger 1 0-0 2. TOTALS 18 14-21 65.
- Shooting: 18-39/18-48
- Rebounds: 20/34
- Fouls: 18/18
- Turnovers: 15/11
- Three-Point Shots: Green-3, Hoyt/Greslick, Lopez, Billotte-2, Miller-3
- Bench Warning: 3:01 in 2nd/6:01 in 4th
- Technical Foul: Coach Varacallo