CLARION, Pa. – Redbank Valley trailed for most of the game but pulled ahead at the right time and held off Clarion to win, 29-28.
The game was a defensive contest, with both sides struggling to find their offensive rhythm. Clarion held narrow leads after each of the first three quarters, but the Bulldogs pulled ahead midway through the fourth quarter. Clarion had a last-second look to win the game, but the shot was off the mark, providing the Bulldogs with a one-point win.
Caylen Rearick scored eight points to lead the Bulldogs, using her speed in transition to log her points. Katie Davis also added six points for Redbank. Payton Simko scored eight points for Clarion, and Ava Cherico tallied seven points for the Bobcats.
The game started slowly, with both teams creating open shots but failing to capitalize. Clarion found early defensive success by running a box-and-one scheme focusing their attention on Rearick, while the Bulldogs were constantly able to intercept Clarion’s long pass attempts. The box-and-one was instrumental in Clarion’s strong performance, courtesy of the fantastic defensive work of Noel Anthony.
Clarion head coach Jess Quinn was glowing about Anthony’s defensive work.
“By far [Anthony] is our best defender, and she is relentless. We knew that if we put Noel on [Rearick] that we would have a chance.”
Clarion pulled ahead by as many as five, but a late Bulldogs run quickly cut Clarion’s lead to one. A final possession bucket from Noel Anthony provided the Bobcats with a 9-6 lead after the first.
Anthony Hits a Bucket as Time Runs Down
In the second quarter, the game continued to be a defensive struggle, with both teams doing an excellent job of providing strong interior defense without committing fouls. With 4:00 left in the quarter, both teams’ offenses suddenly sprang to life. Redbank Valley got the better of the Bobcats in the faster-paced stretch, tying things up at 17 with 2:00 to go in the quarter. Brooklyn Edmonds scored on a fast break opportunity to give Redbank the lead, but a three-pointer on the last possession gave the Bobcats a 20-19 lead at the intermission.
The defense returned in the third quarter, but this time, it was Clarion’s turn to go on a run. The Bobcats started off the period on a 4-0 run to take a five-point lead with 3:00 to go in the third. The Bulldogs swiftly reeled the Bobcats back in, scoring on back-to-back possessions to cut the lead to one. The quarter ended on a 1:30 long possession from Clarion, where they failed to convert on numerous shot attempts but kept snagging offensive rebounds to keep the possession alive. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, they failed to cash in on their long possession, but Clarion remained on top, 24-23, heading into the final quarter.
The Bulldogs bossed the early action in the fourth, scoring three quick buckets to jump out to a 29-26 lead. Clarion scored next, pulling to within one with 2:30 remaining. Despite both teams’ efforts, neither team could convert on offense as the game remained 29-28 inside the one-minute mark. Clarion had the first opportunity to tie or take the lead with a one-and-one attempt from the line with 50 seconds to go, but the Bobcats came up empty-handed. After getting a defensive stop, the Bobcats took control of the ball with 30 seconds remaining. Clarion took their time on offense and got a good look with time running down, but Jordan Best’s jump shot was off the mark. Redbank Valley snagged the rebound and dribbled out the remaining few seconds to secure a 29-28 win.
Best’s Last-Second Effort Comes Up Short
Redbank Valley played well as a team down the stretch, using their strengths to notch key buckets, adhering to Coach Chris Edmonds’ advice heading into the final period.
“We told each of the girls to do what they are good at, and if we play as a team, we will be able to come back and secure the win.”
The win improves the Bulldogs’ record to 13-4. Clarion drops to 10-7 overall after the loss.