CLARION, Pa. – A 12-1 run out of halftime helped Clearfield secure its sixth straight District 9 title and its fourth in a row in Class 4A with a 51-40 win over Bradford Thursday night at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym.
(Photo by Chris Rossetti)
“It is really special to us,” senior Cade Walker said. “It is our program. We build on the kids that were in front of us, and we keep building. It is really special to keep winning.”
The Bison made some District 9 history in the process. The only other D9 team to ever take home six consecutive titles was Bradford from 1969 to 1974 in Class A when Class A was the largest classification. It is unknown if the Owls had to win the title on the court in each of those years like Clearfield has done or if they were declared champions at some point without having to play a game.
“With six in a row, that is a community effort,” Clearfield head coach Nate Glunt said. “I am fortunate to have excellent players. I’ve never made a shot for this team, for this program. I’ve never boxed out. I’ve never made an assist. The players do all the work, and it’s a credit to how hard they play and how hard they work in the offseason. Then, we have unbelievable assistant coaches and a school district and community that supports us. That’s how we’re able to have the success that we’ve had.”
Clearfield led 20-16 at halftime but scored the first six points of the second half, including two baskets by Walker, the 1,000-point senior and the team’s leading scorer who had been limited to four first-half points.
“Lopey (Andrew Lopez) had three really great passes,” Walker said. “That just kind of made (Bradford) spread out a little bit. Then we just got some easy shots.”
After Walker’s two baskets, Lopez added a bucket and then freshman Cole Miller hit a pair of 3-pointers to put the Bison ahead 32-17 with 2:40 to play in the third quarter.
“He (Miller) has stepped up all year,” Walker said. “He has no fear. He just keeps hitting big shots game after game.”
The offensive explosion in the third quarter – Clearfield scored 14 points in the quarter after the 20 the entire first half – had a lot to do with the Bison attacking the Bradford zone defense better.
“We were just moving the ball faster, getting inside a little bit,” Walker said. “Then we kind of spread them out and got to the hoop a lot more.”
Watch Walker’s full postgame interview.
Down 13, Bradford didn’t panic.
The Owls closed with 11, 34-23, at the end of the third quarter and then used a 7-2 spurt (part of a 9-2 run) at the start of the fourth quarter to get within six, 36-30, on a Caleb Nuzzo free throw with 4:49 to play.
But a free throw by Matt Pallo was followed by a Walker basket and then a dagger 3-pointer by Miller with 3:10 to play that put the lead back to 12, 42-20.
“Cole has been fantastic,” Glunt said. “He’s another kid in the offseason who works so hard. Him and his dad are at the Y all the time since he’s been six years old. He’s made shots for us throughout the year. He’s really come on. His future is so bright, and he is a really good kid, too.”
Walker led Clearfield with 16 points and six rebounds.
“In the second half, we were able to make a couple of threes and get a little bit more space for Cade,” Glunt said. “We moved him around a little bit differently. We were able to get into the paint.”
Miller chipped in the nine points on the three 3-pointers with Karson Rumsky adding seven points and 10 rebounds and Lopez eight points and seven assists.
“I told (Lopez) at halftime if he gave us five assists we had a really good chance of winning the game,” Glunt said. “He drove, which made the defense go to him, and he found Cade a bunch of times. Andrew did a really good job of setting guys up in the second half.”
Tyler Gigliotti paced Bradford with 10 points and finished his career with 1,448 career points, the all-time leading scorer in Owls history. He also grabbed six rebounds.
Evan Schmidt chipped in eight points and six boards, and Payton Manion had eight points and a team-high nine rebounds.
Bradford ends the season 12-11, while Clearfield improved to 15-8.
The Bison move into the PIAA playoffs where they will play the second-place team out of the WPIAL, either Highlands or Belle Vernon. The WPIAL title game is Saturday. The first round of the PIAA playoffs will be Friday, March 6. The game will be played at a District 9 location to be announced.
Clearfield postseason information is brought to you by: Lezzer Lumber
Full coverage of District 9 teams in the basketball postseason can be found here.
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CLEARFIELD 51, BRADFORD 40
Score by Quarters
Bradford 8 8 7 17 – 40
Clearfield 12 8 14 17 – 51
BRADFORD – 40
Peyton Manion 4 0-0 8, Steven Knowlton 1 0-0 3, Evan Schmidt 4 0-0 8, Jerid Wilmoth 0 0-0 0, Dalton Dixon 0 0-0 0, Tyler Gigliotti 3 3-4 10, Owen Kane 1 0-0 2, Caleb Nuzzo 1 3-6 5, Ryan Ward 0 0-0 0, Gavin Piscitelli 2 0-0 4, Nolan Roulo 0 0-0 0, Alex Liners 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 6-10 40.
CLEARFIELD – 51
Matt Pallo 0 1-2 1, Cade Walker 7 2-3 16, Luke Winters 2 0-0 5, Harrison Peacock 1 0-0 2, Karson Rumsky 1 4-5 7, Andrew Lopez 2 4-4 8, Cole Miller 3 0-0 9, Kandyn Hudson 1 0-0 3, Ryan Gerhart 0 0-0 0, Nick Ryan 0 0-0 0, Curvey Purkett 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 11-14 51.
Three-pointers: Bradford 2 (Knowlton, Gigliotti). Clearfield 6 (Miller 3, Winters, Rumsky, Hudson).