FRILLS CORNERS, Pa. – The Karns City Gremlins triumphed in a battle of tough defenses, using clutch shooting and key free throws to defeat the North Clarion Wolves 29-25 at North Clarion High School.
The game was quite balanced, with the Wolves taking a three-point lead into halftime. Ultimately, North Clarion fell behind as they could not get their post game rolling, a testament to the Gremlins’ strong interior defense. Some key free throws and more tough defense put Karns City in control late, as they stood strong to hold their lead and finish off the win.
Karns City’s Emma Johns led all scorers with 18 points, including 13 points in the second half. Brooke Manuel also contributed four points for Karns City. North Clarion was led by Trinity Thompson and Gwen Siegel, who scored seven and six points, respectively.
The opening period was slow-paced, with both teams running their set offenses but struggling to find open shots. The Wolves controlled the first part of the quarter, jumping in front of passes and forcing turnovers to take an early 4-0 lead. The Gremlins went on a late tear, hitting their outside shots to finish the half on a 7-0 run.
After both teams exchanged buckets to begin the quarter, the North Clarion defense started to dominate proceedings. The Wolves’ steals and turnovers jumpstarted their offense, with Amya Green and Lauren Lutz providing the scoring touch the Wolves craved. The remainder of the half was characterized by tight defense, but North Clarion’s short scoring spurt provided them with a 16-13 lead at the break.
The third quarter was Karns City’s time to dish out some lockdown D, and they were able to hold the Wolves to one point in the third quarter. Karns City head coach Steven Andreassi was thrilled with his side’s defensive effort: “We are a defensive team, that’s what we pride ourselves on, and that’s what we’ve stressed since last May. [The team] really worked their butts off, and I am so proud of our girls and how they kept up their defense in the second half.”
The Gremlins’ overall work ethic paid immediate dividends, as a big three-pointer by Johns powered the Karns City into the lead. The Gremlins added one more point at the foul line to take a 20-17 lead into the final stanza.
Alongside the aggressive defense came plenty of fouls, and both sides entered the one-and-one with 6:00 to go in the game. After each team went 1-for-2 at the line, Rossi McMillen hit a key layup to put the Gremlins up 25-20 with 5:00 remaining. As the clock ticked down inside 3:00, the Wolves were forced to foul.
The Gremlins were unable to convert on several free throw opportunities, missing four-in-a-row to open the door for the Wolves. A Thompson layup cut the lead to 25-23, and a foul on the subsequent possession forced Johns to the line. After making the first shot, Johns missed her second attempt. In a heads-up hustle play, Johns snagged her own rebound and was fouled again.
Johns’ Hustle Play Wins Back Possession
This time, Johns made both of her foul shots to give the Gremlins a 28-23 lead with under a minute to go, icing the game for Karns City. The Wolves hit a layup as time was running down, but the basket was not enough, and Karns City secured a 29-25 victory.
A post-game interview with Karns City head coach Steven Andreassi
The Gremlins advance to 7-2 overall, while North Clarion falls to 2-3. Karns City will travel to face Leechburg on January 27, and North Clarion will face off against Moniteau at Moniteau on January 29.