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Tide trim Bison, 52-48
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
By Rich Murawski Assistant Sports Editor
CURWENSVILLE - The last time Curwensville beat Clearfield in a boys basketball game, George W. Bush was the President of the United States, gas was only about $1.25 per gallon and the current Tide starters were in kindergarten.
But that 13-game losing streak came to an end Monday evening at Patton Hall as Brett Gardner netted a career high 21 points and Kyle Johns scored 14 to lead the hosts to a 52-48 win over the Bison.
"I'm proud of all the kids," Curwensville head coach Shane Pentz said. "They wanted this game pretty bad. They've been talking about it for a couple weeks.
"We don't play Clearfield as much as we used to, but it's still a rivalry game. The kids wanted this one bad. To both teams' credit, the kids gave everything they had. We were just lucky enough to come out on the positive end of it."
Gardner was the big key for the Golden Tide, and his marksmanship from behind the arc helped Curwensville build a double-digit lead early in the second quarter.
With his team trailing, 7-2, in the first, Gardner drained three 3s during a 10-0 run to give the hosts a 12-7 lead - a lead they never relinquished.
"Brett was awfully hot in the first half," Pentz said. "Any open look he got was good. We tried to run some set plays for him and we got him a couple good looks.
"But for the most part we were just finding him and he was knocking them down. Brett really kickstarted us tonight."
And when Tanner Elensky connected on his only 3-pointer of the night and Johns hit a pair of free throws, Curwensville had a 21-10 lead early in the second quarter.
The Bison closed the deficit to 23-19 when Christian Lezzer got a rebound, put the ball in the hoop and hit a free throw after getting fouled on the way up.
But Gardner put his squad on top by seven at the half, 29-22, when he canned his fourth trey of the contest with 35 seconds left in the second quarter.
"We didn't want Gardner to get an open look and we let him wide open for four 3-pointers," Clearfield head coach Forrest Campman said. "He shot the ball extremely well. I thought we handled Elensky half-decent, but Gardner got them that lead.
"Gardner made shots from the perimeter, and we didn't answer. I have to give him credit. He shot lights out tonight."
Gardner scored five more points in the third quarter, while Johns and Trey Rauckhorst added four each as Curwensville kept the 7-point lead throughout and extended it to 13 by the end of the frame.
"We fought too hard in that third quarter to be behind about the same as we were at the half," Campman said. "We needed to whittle it down a little bit there."
While the Bison were unable to put a dent in the Tide lead in the third, they sure made some noise in the fourth.
Trailing, 44-31, with 7:21 to go in the game, Clearfield went on a 12-2 run that got them within three, 46-43, with 4:44 still left on the clock.
Trey Jordan scored six of the Bison's 12 points in the run and netted 11 of his team-high 20 points in the final stanza.
Johns put a halt to the Bison momentum with a short jump hook to give the Tide a 50-45 lead.
"Kyle had a big 7- or 8-foot jump hook in the lane that made it a five-point game," Pentz said. "The last two or three weeks, Kyle has really come along offensively, and he's part of the reason we've been successful winning some games in that time.
"We need a third person to step up to help Tanner and Brett with the scoring, and tonight it was Kyle."
But a Jordan free throw followed by Seth Ford's steal and layup had Clearfield smelling the lead, down just two, 50-48.
The Bison forced 12 Tide turnovers in the second half, using a relentless pressure defense.
"Clearfield is very athletic," Pentz said. "Christian Lezzer, Trey Jordan, Seth Beardsley are three very athletic kids. They start trapping and pressuring all over the floor like they were doing, it's tough to deal with. But to our kids' credit, we didn't turn the ball over too often."
The Bison had several chances to tie the game or take the lead down the stretch, but they missed a pair of jumpers in the lane and turned the ball over on two other possessions.
"I thought our kids played extremely hard, but we had too many turnovers," Campman said. "The turnovers that Curwensville had were us creating them with a double team, but the ones we had we just threw some ill-advised passes or didn't do good things with the ball.
"You can't have that many unforced errors, and you have to make some shots."
Alex Olson and Harrison Bloom each made free throws late in the quarter to give the Tide a two-possession lead and the Bison were unable to dent the scoreboard again.
"We told our kids, ‘you've been in this position all year. It's nothing to be concerned about. We just have to make some plays, take care of the basketball and make our free throws.' " Pentz said of the close game. "And we did."
Elensky corralled the rebound on Clearfield's final shot, took a few dribbles and heaved the ball in the air with about a second to go in the game as Patton Hall erupted in celebration of the Tide's first win over Clearfield since Dec. 4, 2001.
The Tide were 55-49 victors in that contest.
Curwensville held a 29-25 advantage on the boards, led by Austin Jacobson's seven.
"Alex Olson did a great job boxing out and getting rebounds," Pentz said. "On the weakside when they missed, he was very key to getting some rebounds. Kyle Johns, Trey Rauckhorst and Austin Jacobson all did a very good job.
"We tried to make sure two of our guys boxed out Lezzer and Jordan every time because if we got in a jumping contest with those kids, we're going to lose."
Lezzer paced the Bison with 10 boards to go with 12 points.
Curwensville improved to 5-15 with the win and is 4-3 in its last seven games, including benchmark wins over the Bison and DuBois Central Catholic.
"This and DuBois Central are two big wins in the last 10 days," Pentz said. "I think it shows our team is progressing. We've lost so many close games this year. Our record could be dramatically different."
Clearfield dipped to 5-14.
The Bison won the jayvee game, 31-27, behind 11 points from Andy Brown. Bloom netted 15 for the Tide.
Both teams are back in action today. Clearfield visits Philipsburg-Osceola, while Curwensville travels to Kane.
NOTE: Bison Jon Janocko left the game late in the second quarter with an ankle injury and did not return.

Clearfield-48
Ford 2 0-0 4, Westen 0 1-2 1, Janocko 0 0-0 0, Lezzer 3 6-10 12, Beardsley 2 0-0 6, Jordan 8 4-7 20, Sellers 2 1-1 5. Totals: 17 12-20 48.
Curwensville-52
Elensky 2 5-6 10, Johns 4 6-10 14, Olson 0 1-4 1, Gardner 8 1-3 21, Jacobson 0 1-2 1, Rauckhorst 1 2-2 4, Kurtz 0 0-0 0, Bloom 0 1-2 1. Totals: 15 17-29 52.
Three-pointers: Beardsley 2; Elensky, Gardner 4.
Score By Quarters
Clearfield       10 12  7 19-48
Curwensville   16 13 13 10-52
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