PORT ALLEGANY, Pa. – Port Allegany trailed for most of the contest, but some sharp long-range and free throw shooting coupled with Clarion’s foul troubles led to a 45-39 Gators win in the Class A quarterfinals.
(Photo by Paul Burdick. More of Burdick’s work can be found here.)
Port Allegany trailed by as many as ten in the third quarter but got red hot from beyond the arc to tie the score going into the final stanza. After Clarion’s Erica Selfridge and Noel Anthony fouled out, Port Allegany drained their free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
Bree Garzel led the Gators with 20 points. Gracie Archer and Evin Stauffer added 12 and 11 points, respectively, for Port Allegany. Selfridge led Clarion with 16 points. Anthony also scored eight for Clarion.
The beginning of the first quarter was evenly balanced with little scoring, with both sides providing a solid defensive effort. The Gators led 5-4 midway through the period, but a steal and score by Selfridge quickly put the Bobcats back on top. Both teams exchanged threes before Selfridge scored again down low on Clarion’s final possession of the half to give the Bobcats an 11-8 lead after the first quarter.
Both teams got red hot from beyond the arc to begin the second, with each team hitting two threes. Selfridge’s tough layup with 5:00 in the quarter increased Clarion’s lead to seven, their largest of the game. Scoring was limited for the remainder of the half, with the only scoring coming from the free-throw line. Garzel went 4-for-4 on two trips to the line, while Selfridge went 3-for-4 from the charity stripe to finish the half, with Clarion holding a 24-18 lead.
Clarion started the second half on the front foot, scoring the first four points of the half to take a double-digit lead. Scoring was scarce in the period, as the Gators began to struggle from beyond the arc, while Clarion was unable to finish down low. Stauffer got Port Allegany back in the game, connecting on two field goals to cut the Clarion lead to five. The Gators kept the momentum going, connecting on two threes to take a 29-28 lead with 2:00 left in the half. Anthony made a free throw, then connected from deep to put Clarion back ahead, but Garzel went 3-for-3 from the line after being fouled on a three to end the quarter tied at 32.
Payton Simko broke the deadlock for Clarion with 5:40 left in the game, scoring on a coast-to-coast layup. Anthony grew Clarion’s lead to four, but the Gators responded with two threes by Archer and Garzel to seize a two-point lead with 3:00 remaining. Anthony re-tied the game after hitting two free throws but was called for her fifth foul on the next defensive possession on a shooting foul on Garzel. Garzel made her first free throw and missed her second attempt, but the Gators secured an offensive rebound. During their next possession, Port Allegany coaxed Selfridge into her fifth foul, making her the second Clarion player to foul out.
Following the foul, Port Allegany made both of their free-throw opportunities to take a three-point lead and made two more free throws after a defensive stop to increase their lead to five. Clarion had a few chances to cut into the lead but couldn’t convert on their shot attempts. Garzel then made two more free throws to grow the Gators’ lead to seven with under a minute to go, putting Port Allegany in charge down the stretch. Clarion hit one final free throw late but could not further dent the Gators’ lead as Port Allegany secured a 45-39 win.
The Gators will advance to play Coudersport in the Class A semifinals on Saturday.