CURWENSVILLE — After battling Curwensville to a 24-24 tie in about as even a first half as you’ll see, the West Branch boys basketball team made a game-altering run to start the third quarter Thursday at Patton Hall.
The Warriors opened the frame on a 9-2 surge and pretty much kept that cushion the rest of the game, taking as much as a 12-point lead before settling for a 57-47 victory.
“We just got a little momentum. That’s really all it was,” West Branch head coach Danny Clark said about the hot start to the second half. “They really didn’t get many second chances in the second half. The first half they really did. But we buckled down in the second half and got some guys in some different spots.
“We got them extending out a little bit in their zone and got some different lanes than we had in the first half.”
Four of the five Warrior starters scored a bucket in the run with Jackson Croyle’s 3-pointer, prompting a timeout by Curwesnville assistant coach Eric Duriancik, who was in charge of the Tide in place of head coach Matt Wassil, who was out due to COVID protocols.
“They came out aggressively in the third quarter and executed their stuff and our Achilles Heel the last few weeks has been not doing that,” Duriancik said. “Williamsburg on Monday we were only down four at the half. There have been other games that have been close or we’ve been up and for whatever reason the first few minutes of the third quarter have killed us. We’ve tried to fix it and we’re going to keep trying.”
West Branch took a 37-32 advantage to the fourth quarter and upped the lead to 50-38 with just a few minutes left to play when Isaac Tiracorda stole the ball and took it coast to coast for a layup. Tiracorda had 14 points and six steals for the Warriors.
“What more can I ask from Isaac,” Clark said. “He’s a sophomore and he’s pretty much our go-to.”
The Golden Tide cut their deficit to 50-45, thanks to a 3-pointer and two free throws from Ty Terry and a basket in the paint by Parker Wood. Terry led the Tide with 17 points, while Wood netted 13 and added 10 rebounds.
But Zack Tiracorda ended the Tide 7-0 run with a bucket and the Warriors closed out the game on a 7-2 charge to earn the 10-point win.
“We told the guys that we really couldn’t fault their effort,” Duriancik said. “The biggest things that hurt us were turnovers and giving them second-half opportunities. But give (West Branch) credit, they run a lot of nice sets and they have some nice players that make open shots and attack, and they do their stuff very well.”
“We thought we were going to break it open a little bit when we got it two 12, but they got it right back to five,” Clark said. “It got a little dicey. But the guys got relaxed and executed a couple plays that we called and it all worked out.”
Tiracorda scored seven of his team-high 18 in the final stanza. He also netted seven in the first quarter to help the visitors take a 16-14 lead after one.
“When Zack sees the court a little better and waits ... sometimes he likes to go on the first pass. That ball was swinging around to him a couple times and that lane was open. He got to the line and he got to the rim. That’s the Zack we always need.”
Wood netted nine for Curwensville in the second quarter to lead the Tide into the half with the game deadlocked at 24-24.
Nearly all statistical categories were deadlocked at the half.
Both teams were 9-of-30 from the field. West Branch had one more rebound than the Tide and turned the ball over one more time. Each team also made four free throws.
But that all changed in a short spurt to start the third quarter and led the Warriors to their third win in a row.
Owen Koleno scored 10 off the bench for West Branch, while Kyle Kolesar had a team-high 10 boards. Zack Tiracorda added six rebounds.
“Kyle came ready to play,” Clark said. “I challenged him the last two games. He wasn’t playing the way we know he can. And he did tonight.”
Dan McGarry had six rebounds and three assists for the Tide. Davis Fleming scored seven and added four assists.
West Branch improved to 5-7 overall, 5-2 in the Inter County Conference and 3-1 in the Moshannon Valley League.
Curwensville slipped to 3-8 overall, 2-5 in the ICC and 2-1 in the MVL.
The Tide are back in action today at Brockway.
West Branch hosts Harmony on Monday.
Evans 1 2-4 4, I. Tiracorda 6 2-7 14, Kolesar 1 1-3 3, Z. Tiracorda 7 3-6 18 Croyle 3 0-0 8, Koleno 3 2-2 10, McGonigal 0 0-0 0, Colton 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 10-22 57.
Fleming 3 0-2 7, Wood 5 3-3 13, McGarry 2 0-0 4, Lee 0 0-0 0, Terry 6 3-4 17, Wassil 0 0-0 0, Wassil 1 0-0 2, English 2 0-0 4. Totals:19 6-9 47.
Three-pointers: Z. Tiracorda, Croyle 2, Koleno 2; Terry 2, Fleming.
Score by Quarters
West Branch 16 8 13 20—57
Curwensville 14 10 8 15—47