HYDE — Being able to finish a game strong is a focus for any team. Finishing strong to win is a goal. But, to be able to finish and not lose, that is something that can be described to perfection for the Clearfield Bison on Wednesday night. The regular-season finale meant a showdown with a talented, tough, and very capable DuBois Beavers squad inside the Bison Gymnasium.
Clearfield rushed out to a lead in the first half, putting the visitors on their heels. But, the Bison saw that lead dwindle, and dwindle, and suddenly came into jeopardy. Yet, the “bend but don’t break” mantra is how the Bison were able to hold on and take a tough 59-55 victory to finish out the year. In a rowdy environment that packed both sides of the gymnasium, Bison head coach Nate Glunt first wanted to talk about the environment, as though it was preparing them for what was yet to come.
“Another great student section here tonight, and much of our community came out to support us,” he said. “I think DuBois brought half their community, a packed gym…a true playoff environment. Last night was a rivalry game with Curwensville, and that takes a lot out of you. To come back the next night, our kids really stepped up and got gut-checked. Heck of a game.”
He certainly was right as the opening quarter was a battle of going nearly tit-for-tat, as both the Beavers and Bison kept things close, with Clearfield getting out to as much as a five-point lead. But DuBois battled back, getting off one final three-pointer just before the buzzer, trailing by just one, 13-12, after the first eight minutes.
Clearfield then turned on the heat in the second quarter, outscoring their opposition by double-figures as they would miss only two shots from the floor all quarter. Led by an 11-point outburst from Cole Miller, who finished his final regular-season home game with a game-high 26 points, fueled Clearfield to put up 25 points in the quarter. Defensively, neither team was turning the ball over, but it was the Bison making better shots, and also making better shot selection.
“I think the key is not turning it over. They are understanding our shot selection, and by far our confidence has been so key,” Glunt said. “Our shoulders were high, we were confident in shots.”
Cole’s success was evident, but what that allowed was other guys to get opportunities as the Beavers keyed in on Miller, but his teammates of Andon Greslick and Braison Patrick were able to get shots when Miller showed he could be just as good as a passer to set up shots as he was as the actual shooter.
“You can’t just focus on Cole, really. The other guys are playing extremely well, and when that happens we are hard to stop,” Glunt said. “I think it comes down to experience. We had a lot of guys at the beginning of the year that really didn’t have game experience, and we were starting a freshman. Cole, Luke, and the others, it takes time and growing pains.
“We pushed through it, and now we are focused on getting that last 10 percent finished. We just kept grinding it out.”
Still, DuBois was not going to quit. Despite trailing by 14 at the half, they put on a solid third quarter to head into the final eight minutes down by 13. That is when things dramatically changed.
DuBois began making shots, fueled by three enormous treys by Maddox Bennett, saw the lead began to evaporate. Bit by bit, the Beavers were chipping away, getting to within a possession. Clearfield, by contrast, was not able to get shots to fall. In the final quarter, Clearfield only had three shots at the basket during play, and none of them went. The Beavers used that to their advantage, pulling down boards and getting buckets on the opposite end. With Tyson Kennis leading the way in a double-double effort of 17 points and 11 rebounds, Clearfield was on its heels.
But the Beavers were behind late in the game, and with Cam Thompson on the sidelines after reaching five fouls, they had to find a way to rally.
With under 30 seconds to go, The lead got to within a single point on the heels of a plus-one by Kennis, however on the opposite end of the court, Miller went for a three at the left wing. The ball would not fall, but a foul put him at the line for a trio of free throws. He would drain all three, putting the lead back up to four.
DuBois called a timeout with under 10 seconds left, ready for the inbounds pass. The Beavers drove down, and had a look for a three-pointer, hoping to get fouled on the shot and have the ultimate plus-one opportunity. Aiden West had the look from the wing, and let the ball go. It bounced off the back of the glass, and in the battle for the rebound it was Luke Pallo pulling it down as the seconds ticked away.
“We just kept finding a way. We went 7-for-10 at the line in the fourth quarter, but didn’t make a shot from the floor. To make those shots when you’re tired, I am absolutely extremely proud of those guys,” Glunt said.
Clearfield did fall in the junior varsity game, 64-38.
The game would be one that tested the entire team, physically and mentally. The Bison leadership, from both the coaches and the seniors, was evident in the waning moments of the game. Glunt could see that based on the preparation his team had leading into this week.
“They’re encouraging the younger guys, and our practices have become competitive,” he said. “We talked today just during the jayvee game how to defend DuBois, just because we didn’t have time to prepare. All those kids stepped up, on the fly, to get this win tonight.”
The Bison finish the regular season with a 16-6 record, and now have to wait to see where they will be seeded in the post-season. That could potentially come as early as Thursday.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Dubois 12 12 15 16 – 55
Clearfield 13 25 14 7 – 59
Dubois – 55
Andrew Gudalis 1 0-0 3, Cam Thompson 3 3-5 11, Maddox Bennett 3 0-0 9, Rudy Williams 3 0-0 6, Tyson Kennis 8 1-1 17, Ben Hickman 0 0-0 0, Aiden West 3 0-0 9, Tyler Chamberlin 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 21 4-6 55.
Clearfield – 59
Luke Pallo 1 2-2 4, Kam Kushner 1 0-0 2, Braison Patrick 4 0-0 9, Andon Greslick 4 2-3 13, Anthony Lopez 1 0-0 2, Morgen Billotte 0 3-4 3, Cole Miller 7 7-8 26. TOTALS 18 14-17 59.
- Shooting: 21-44/18-35
- Rebounds: 22/17
- Fouls: 19/10
- Turnovers: 9/7
- Three-Point Shots: Gudalis, Thompson-2, Bennett-3, West-3/Patrick, Greslick-3, Miller-5
- Foul Out: Thompson
Final Regular Season Scoreboard:
Date Opponent Score Record
12/02 @ Curwensville 56 – 39 1 – 0
12/07 @ Philipsburg-Osceola 53 – 49 2 – 0
12/09 @ Punxsutawney 42 – 47 2 – 1
12/15 HOLLIDAYSBURG ppd. 2 – 1
12/19 @ Bald Eagle Area 34 – 50 2 – 2
12/21 WEST BRANCH 64 – 59 3 – 2
12/27&28 @ Cambria Heights Tourney
12/27 vs. Williamsburg 61 – 37 4 – 2
12/28 vs. Cambria Heights 51 – 41 5 – 2
01/03 TYRONE 61 – 59 6 – 2
01/05 @ Bellefonte 46 – 43 7 – 2
01/09 @ Huntingdon 45 – 40 8 – 2
01/12 PENNS VALLEY 55- 26 9 – 2
01/17 PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA 40 – 43 9 – 3
01/20 @ Hollidaysburg 51 – 69 9 – 4
01/24 BALD EAGLE AREA 49 – 39 10 – 4
01/27 @ Tyrone 39 – 76 10 – 5
01/31 BELLEFONTE 49 – 62 10 – 6
02/02 HOLLIDAYSBURG 66 – 50 11 – 6
02/03 HUNTINGDON 65 – 50 12 – 6
02/07 @ Penns Valley 43 – 35 13 – 6
02/09 DUBOIS CENTRAL CATHOLIC 65 – 52 14 – 6
02/14 CURWENSVILLE 69 – 39 15 – 6
02/15 DUBOIS 59 – 55 16 – 6