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Meet the Press: North Clarion’s Defense Shines in Win Over Clarion

CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Gwen Siegel fidgeted on the bench.

North Clarion sports on Explore and are brought to you by First United National Bank – The FUN Bank!

It was an unfamiliar perch for the North Clarion forward.

Watching instead of playing.

But the 6-foot Siegel was in foul trouble — a product of a physical game — and the senior had to bide her time as a reluctant spectator.

“Being in foul trouble was definitely tough,” Siegel said, grinning. “I didn’t like it. In the first half, I was all over the place. It was kind of frustrating, and when I kept picking up my fouls, I knew I had to reset and get back out there and do what I know how to do.”

When she returned in the fourth quarter, Siegel scored seven key points in the final frame to help the Wolves to a 45-36 road win over Clarion Tuesday night.

Siegel finished with 12 points and seven rebounds despite playing less than half the game.

“I knew I had four fouls and that I just needed to come out and play good defense and try to score,” Siegel said. “It just happened to go that way.”

North Clarion coach Terry Dreihaup has a rule: pick up two fouls in the first half and you’re on the bench. Siegel did that early in the second quarter and sat.

She picked up two more in the third quarter and sat again.

“There are going to be nights like this,” Siegel said. “I know I just can’t swipe at the ball. My coach always tells me you can’t swat, go straight up. I’m six-feet tall. If I go straight up, I should be good.”

Siegel did in the fourth quarter and played nearly flawlessly down the stretch.

While she was on the bench, North Clarion found ways to play well without Siegel. The Wolves have talented players around her.

And they found another one.

Junior Marie Bauer scored all 10 of her points off the bench in the second quarter.

“I’m very proud of her,” Siegel said. “She really stepped up.”

So did the North Clarion’s press, which gave Clarion fits in the first half.

The Bobcats committed 17 of their 25 turnovers in the first two quarters. Some of them led to easy points for the Wolves, who scored the final six points of the half in last 55 seconds to balloon their lead to 24-11 at the break.

“We’ve worked on it,” said Clarion coach Jess Quinn about breaking a press. “We’ve worked on it and worked on it and they knew exactly what to do. They just didn’t execute it. I thought we really came out in the second half and did well, but that second quarter, that press hurt us.”

Clarion, though, wouldn’t let North Clarion run away and hide.

The Wolves led by as many as 17 points midway through the third quarter, but the Bobcats kept chipping away.

Clarion cut the North Clarion lead to 12 by the end of the third and got as close as eight with a minute remaining and possession, but couldn’t keep the rally going with another basket.

“I really think, though, we can build on what we did in the second half,” Quinn said. “We can learn from the mistakes we made in the first half. We’ll be fine.”

Quinn was particularly pleased with his defensive effort.

North Clarion went nearly eight minutes without scoring in the first half before its scoring surge late in the second quarter.

Clarion did well handling all of the Wolves’ threats, including Maddison McFarland and her twin sister Emma McFarland.

Emma finished with eight points and Maddison, who was also in foul trouble and fouled out in the fourth, had three points.

“If we would have been able to handle the press even half the time,” Quinn lamented. “I hate that it’s a loss against a good single-A team, but there’s a lot we can learn from it. I was proud of the effort in the second half. These girls did not give up.”

Jordan Best led Clarion with 11 points.

Gia Babington hit two 3-pointers down the stretch to give the Bobcats a glimmer of hope and finished with six. Rebekah Ketner and Payton Simko also scored six points for the Bobcats.

It was a good early season win for North Clarion on the road, but Dreihaup said there is still some work to do to smooth out the rough edges.

“I’m pleased that we pulled it out, just a little disappointed with the way we kind of gave it up at the end,” Dreihaup said. “But I was real happy with our press. We just have to slow down a little bit and be more patient on offense. Our defense, I can’t complain about that.”

North Clarion sports on Explore and are brought to you by First United National Bank – The FUN Bank!