ALLPORT — Curwensville volunteer assistant coach Heather Olson came up clutch when West Branch’s sound system malfunctioned, singing the national anthem a capella.
But it was the Lady Tide’s Skylar Pentz who had the biggest clutch moment, scoring six of her team’s nine points in the fourth quarter to defeat the Lady Warriors 32-25.
“I’m glad to see Skylar step up and take charge,” said Curwensville Bob Desmett. “We had been talking about this. When they want to double and triple team Alyssa (Bakaysa), somebody has to be open and someone has to take charge. Skylar did that tonight in the fourth quarter.”
The teams started out very even, playing to an 8-8 tie after one quarter.
Curwensville was able to take advantage of some turnovers and some good rebounding to take an 18-12 lead into the half.
“It was just our failure to knock down shots today,” said West Branch head coach Justin Koleno. “We got the shots we wanted in our offense and they were open. We just didn’t knock them down.
“Maybe you can chalk that up to it being the first time we were out there. We had some people who aren’t used to handling the ball in our offense consistently, but I thought they fought hard.”
West Branch came out of the locker room and immediately started to whittle away at the Lady Tide’s lead.
Buckets from Emily Parks and Sarah Betts helped cut the lead to 18-16 before Pentz answered for Curwensville with a bucket.
The Lady Warriors got two key baskets from Jenna Mertz and a jumper from Sarah Betts gave the hosts a 22-20 lead.
West Branch eventually settled for a 25-23 lead at the end of the third.
Curwensville regrouped after a pep talk and headed out for the final frame.
The Lady Tide went on a 9-0 run in the fourth, setting the final at 32-25.
“I told them that when we were down and it was close, we kept our composure,” Desmett said. “We still continued to do what we wanted to do, moved the ball and scored some points.
“I’m very proud of them for not letting this game get out of control. We kept it where it needed to keep it.”
Pentz led the Lady Tide with 12 points and five rebounds. Bakaysa added 11 rebounds and eight points, while Kyra Henry had 12 rebounds and six points. Austyn Guiher netted five rebounds. Joslynne Freyer tallied six points.
“We had some turnovers we had early on I wasn’t happy with, but it is still early,” said Desmett. “I am very proud of them. They are really starting to trust each other and buy into what we ware saying.”
West Branch was led by 10 points and six rebounds from Sarah Betts. Parks added eight rebounds and six points, while Mertz had seven rebounds and four points.
“Kudos to Curwensville for stopping us in transition and making us get into a half-court set,” Koleno said. “I thought the girls did well, but you aren’t going to win many games if you can’t knock down shots.”
West Branch dropped to 0-1 overall and 0-1 in the MVL. The Lady Warriors travel to Moshannon Valley on Monday.
Curwensville improved to 2-2 overall and 2-1 in the MVL. The Lady Tide travel to Union on Monday.
Bakaysa 3 2-4 8, Freyer 3 0-2 6, Guiher 0 0-0 0, Henry 3 0-0 6, Pentz 4 4-6 12, Carfley 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 6-12 32.
S. Betts 4 2-6 10, Miller 1 0-0 3, Kalke 1 0-0 2, McGonigal 0 0-0 0, Parks 3 0-0 6, Godin 0 0- 00, Metz 2 0-0 4. Totals: 11 2-6 25.
Score by Quarters
Curwensville 8 10 5 9—32
West Branch 8 4 13 0—25