The Clearfield Bison went 0-2 on the court on Thursday, as both the boys and girls sides dropped close decisions. Clearfield’s boys team fell 54-52 to Brookville, while the ladies lost 34-30 to Huntingdon.
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Brookville 54, Clearfield Boys 52
It was on Saturday when the Clearfield Bison took to the hardwood not once, but twice, inside the Bison Gymnasium, and came away winning one of the two contests. But, then came three days of being unable to be back on the court, whether for practice or for games. The early-week school closings meant the Bison would only get one practice in before they returned to their home court on Thursday night, with a very tough Brookville Raider team coming in for competition.
Tough was exactly what the game would turn out to be, as both squads fought tooth-and-nail for 32 minutes, with neither holding a true advantage. The battle went down to the final seconds, where Brookville had just enough for one last possession, handing Clearfield a heartbreaking 54-52 loss in the final seconds.
“Coach (Dalton) Park does an incredible job with his kids. They battled the entire time, and we knew it was going to be a tough game,” Clearfield head coach Nate Glunt said afterwards. “They are playing at an elite level. We came out and we played with them the entire time.”
Brookville fell in an early hole to start the night as Clearfield opened up with a seven-point run in the opening minutes, forcing a timeout from the visitors. But after the teams came back on the court, Brookville began finding their groove as they were able to penetrate and find the net. The Bison soon went stride-for-stride as after eight minutes, neither team held an advantage as the scoreboard showed 13 points for either side.
The same could be said for the second quarter, but at times Brookville was able to pull out to a solid lead thanks to a 5-0 run with less than six minutes remaining in the half to force a Clearfield timeout. Yet, once again, the Bison would respond and the lead would get traded multiple times in the final minutes. Heading into halftime, Brookville held a slim one-possession lead, and would get the ball to start the third quarter.
Throughout the entire game, Clearfield was putting a lot of pressure on the Brookville defense, despite being out-sized on occasion. Clearfield only turned the ball over 11 times on the night, making solid decisions for a majority of the contest, something that Glunt noticed and has seen improve each day.
“I give Karson (Rumsky) and Cole (Miller) a lot of credit. They get so much attention, and Brookville plays such a tough defense, but they were able to get the ball into the paint and get some shots, and Matt Pallo, Luke Winters, R.G. (Ryan Gearhart), we all just kept attacking,” he said. “Curby (Parkett) gave us some big minutes today, Jake (Lezzer) is getting better every game, and Morgen Billotte gave us solid minutes.
“We’re not real big, we have some quickness, and a decent skill level. It was a heck of a high school basketball game.”
It was in the second half that Brookville began to ramp up the pressure, trying to make Clearfield run the floor and keep up with them offensively. The Raiders managed to hold Clearfield to just seven points in the third quarter, taking a 42-36 advantage heading into the final eight minutes. But, just as they have so many times, the Bison would not go away, and found itself shrinking the gap with each basket. When the Raiders would score, the Bison answered right back, keeping things close.
Rumsky would put up eight of his team-high 20 points in the quarter, while Miller finished right behind with 19 points.
Glunt knew his team was keeping it close, but all the while he could see that the Raiders were using their height advantage to gain some key rebounds and turning them into points, especially when it was the Raiders that had possession.
“Give them credit, the biggest difference tonight was they got offensive rebounds. Their kids play hard, and got some second-chance opportunities late in the game,” Glunt said.
Those rebounds came in clutch late as Griffen Ruhlman got in a groove in the final quarter, scoring eight of his game-high 22 points in the final stanza, one of three Raiders to get into double figures.
As the game got into the final minutes, the score would stay knotted up a majority of the time, and the pressure began coming hard on either side to make a play. In the final minute, Clearfield took a late in-bounds pass and tried to get it set up to get Rumsky into the paint. Winters took the ball on the wing and penetrated into the paint quickly, but saw the ball get tipped and end up in the hands of Jace Miner, who finished with 11 points on the night plus three steals, including the one off Winters.
He would escape and put the ball down the court looking for Griffen on the left wing. He did so, but Griffen had a tough shot near the hoop, and instead looked inside to Robert Keth, who managed to fake out Purkett for the quick jumper to give the Raiders the single possession lead.
Rather than opt for a timeout, the Bison pushed hard down the court as the final seconds waned away, and Rumsky saw Miller at the left wing with one final opportunity behind the arc. Miller would take the shot, and the trajectory looked accurate to those in the bleachers. But the ball hit off the left side of the hoop, went upwards and off, and despite Lezzer trying to get a quick put-back in the air before the buzzer, there was not enough time remaining. The buzzer sounded, and the visiting squad celebrated the enormous win.
“They just made one more shot than we did.,” Glunt said. “That was an absolutely brilliant read and pass by Ruhlman.”
Clearfield also fell in the junior varsity to start the night, another highly contested contest that ended in a 49-45 final.
Clearfield (7-5) still have eight games remaining on the schedule, and as Glunt has said in the past, they play better following a game. That will be the case as the Bison will be back on their home court on Friday night when they host Bellefonte, weather permitting. Tip-off is tentatively set for 7:30 p.m. for the varsity contest.
Huntingdon 34, Clearfield Girls 30
Fresh off a win Wednesday evening against Curwensville, the Lady Bison of Clearfield were eager to get back to the court. Hoping to go back-to-back, the team loaded the bus and headed to Huntington for a Mountain League showdown against Huntingdon.
Clearfield got off to a strong start, but suddenly began struggling to find the hoop in the second half. Add in a strong surge by Huntingdon in the second quarter, and in the end it led to the Lady Bison finishing on the wrong side of a 34-30 final.
The first quarter went superb for the Lady Bison, putting up 13 points while holding the Lady Bearcats to a single field goal in the first eight minutes.
That would be the highest scoring output the Lady Bison would muster as they would see Huntingdon roar back in the second quarter, putting up 14 points to pull within a few possessions heading into the break.
After the teams returned from the locker room, the Huntingdon defense held Clearfield to only a pair of field goals in the final 16 minutes, while the Lady Bearcats dropped 18 to hand Clearfield its fifth loss on the year.
Megan Durandetta led the Bison with nine points courtesy of a trio of three-pointers. For Huntingdon, Alexis Troup topped all scorers with 11 points.
Sitting at 6-5, the Lady Bison get some time to rest as they won’t be back in action until Monday night when they host Penns Valley. The varsity tip off is slated for 7:30 pm.