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North Clarion’s Title Defense Hopes Still Alive After She-Wolves Down ECC in D9 Semifinals
(Photo of Tori Obenrader, the Hager Paving Player of the Game)
Relisten to the game
For North Clarion Wednesday night that little thing was offensive rebounding off missed free throws.
The She-Wolves collected two huge offensive rebounds off missed charity shots with four minutes to play in a close game and turned a two-point lead into a six-point advantage in a span of 14 seconds because of it on their way to a 43-31 win over Elk County Catholic in the District 9 Class 1A semifinals at Brookville High School.
“We work on it in practice,” North Clarion head coach Terry Dreihaup said. “Free throws usually rebound farther from the hoops than most shots if they rebound off the back of the rim. These girls go in a get it.”
With top-seeded North Clarion (25-0) leading by a single point, 30-29, following a basket by Elk County Catholic sophomore Taylor Newton, Tori Obenrader went hard to the hole and was fouled with 4:06 to play.
Obenrader hit the first free throw but missed the second one. Sophomore Abby Gatesman, however, collected the rebound, scored and was fouled to make it a 33-29 She-Wolves lead with 4:04 left.
“That was a huge play,” Obenrader, the Hager Paving Player of the Game with 19 points and 23 rebounds, said. “I joked that I missed the foul shot on purpose just for her to do that.”
Listen to more of Obenrader’s thoughts on the win.
Gatesman missed the ensuing free throw, but this time it was Obenrader who collected the rebound. Obenrader went to the ground hard – it looked like she was fouled but no call was forthcoming – and the ball went out of bounds to North Clarion.
Obenrader stayed on the ground for a couple of minutes, was checked out by the North Clarion athletic trainer and left the game for a moment.
With her out, Gabby Schmader was fouled and hit two free throws with 3:52 left – Obenrader came back into the game on the charity shots – to push the North Clarion lead to 35-29.
“I thought that sequence pushed us over the edge,” Dreihaup said. “They do a really good job of rebounding. They are getting better and better.”
Mackenzie Cashmer hit two free throws with just over three minutes to play to get ECC within four, 35-31, but Obenrader started a game-ending 8-0 run when she collected an offensive rebound and put it back in with 2:55 to go.
Obenrader ended up outrebounding the entire ECC team, 23-22, including three offensive boards.
“They weren’t giving me the shots, so I knew I had to do something else,” Obenrader, who was defended in a diamond-and-one most of the night, said. “Rebounding is my other game, so I went in there.”
North Clarion was a perfect 6 of 6 from the free-throw line in the final 2:36 to seal the victory, a marked improvement from the rest of the game when the She-Wolves were just 10 of 16 from the line.
Holding an 18-8 halftime lead, the She-Wolves were still up nine, 22-13, following an Obenrader basket with 5:43 left in the third quarter.
But ECC went on a 10-5 run to close within four, 27-23, on a 3-pointer by Sady VanAlstine with 1:50 left in the quarter, and the fifth-seeded Lady Crusaders (16-10) were still down by just four, 29-25, going to the fourth quarter.
“I thought Elk County played a great game,” Dreihaup said. “I thought they took us out of our rhythm a little bit, and I thought they had a great game plan.”
ECC quickly cut the advantage to two, 29-27, when Josie Smith scored 12 seconds into the fourth quarter.
At that point, the Lady Crusaders decided to stick in a zone defense and Dreihaup elected to allow his players to hold the ball near center court.
ECC head coach Ken Pistner kept his team back inside the 3-point arc in the zone and a stalemate of sorts ensued over the next two-plus minutes with North Clarion just standing out at midcourt allowing the clock to wind down.
“It was a pretty hard,” Dreihaup, who has told me time and again how little he likes slowing the game down, said when I asked him how hard it was for him to go into the stall. “But, I knew if they were just going to sit back I was going to take minutes off the clock and be happy with that because in those two minutes they couldn’t score.
“I thought the girls handled them sitting back and us holding the ball really well. We have had a real hard time with that. We get a little antsy. But I thought that was a key part of the game as well.”
North Clarion finally decided to make a move towards the basket with just over five minutes left, and Obenrader was fouled with 5:01 to play. She hit one of two free throws to push the lead to three, 30-27, before Newton’s shot with 4:16 left got ECC back within one, 30-29, one last time.
The She-Wolves, the defending champs, will face rival A-C Valley in the title game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym. This will be the third meeting of the year and the sixth in the last two years between the teams. North Clarion has won four straight against A-C Valley, including twice this year with the last one being two weeks ago in the KSAC Title Game.
“It feels great,” Dreihaup said. “The girls are loving every minute of it. All they wanted to know in the locker room was what the score of the A-C Valley/Otto-Eldred game was.”
ECC’s season isn’t over. The Lady Crusaders will face Otto-Eldred in the consolation game and then move into the PIAA playoffs.
NORTH CLARION 43, ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 31
Score by Quarters
Elk Co. Cath. 6 2 17 6 – 31
North Clarion 10 8 11 14 – 43
ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC
Sady VanAlstine 1 0-0 3, Makenzie Cashmer 1 2-2 5, Josie Smith 3 4-4 10, Taylor Newton 4 0-1 8, McKayla Wilson 1 0-0 2, Brandi Clyde 0 0-0 0, Ellie Fledderman 0 0-0 , Sammi Fields 0 0-0 0, Gabbi Rohr 1 1-2 3, Maggie Dinsmore 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 7-9 31.
NORTH CLARION – 43
Mackenzie Bauer 3 3-4 9, Addison Shaftic 0 0-0 0, Kiara Stitt 0 0-0 0, Cierah Manross 0 0-0 0, Gabby Schmader 1 2-2 4, Gabby Carll 0 2-2 2, Abby Gatesman 3 2-3 9, Faythlynn Vanek 0 0-0 0, Tori Obenrader 6 7-11 19, Haley Sherman 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 16-22 43.
Three-pointer: ECC 2 (VanAlstine, Cashmer). North Clarion 1 (Gatesman).
Rebounding: ECC 7 offensive, 15 defensive, 22 total (Newton 7, Cashmer 5). North Clarion 14 offensive, 25 defensive, 39 total (Obenrader 23, Gatesman 7).
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