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North Clarion Survives to Move on in PIAA Girls’ Playoffs
CLARION, Pa. (D9Sports) – Perhaps it says something about the North Clarion girls’ basketball program and where it has come that it could play what it’s coach described as it’s most “unproductive” game of the season and still advance to the second round of the PIAA Class 1A playoffs for the second consecutive year.
(Photo: Abby Gatesman who had 15 points and 10 rebounds in the win Saturday for North Clarion)
North Clarion moved on in the tournament with a 54-46 win over Cornell that might not have been pretty in the eyes of head coach Terry Dreihaup but still got the job done.
“It was probably our most unproductive games we have played this year,” Dreihaup said. “Too many mistakes. I think the week off (North Clarion last played a week ago Saturday in the D9 title game) really hurt us a little bit. Not making excuses, but we were as flat as flat can be. I thought we weren’t ready for this game, and that’s my fault.”
Maybe North Clarion (27-0), the District 9 champion, saw Cornell’s record (8-17 after the loss) and the fact the Lady Raiders were the fifth-place team out of the WPIAL and thought it was going to be a cakewalk similar to last year’s first-round win over Sewickley Academy.
Or perhaps it was just the fact this is a young team with just one senior, albeit the best player in the district in Tori Obenrader.
It may also have been the physical nature of the game that saw the She-Wolves go to the free-throw line 34 times and three Cornell players foul out of the game.
But for whatever reason, North Clarion never seemed to be able to get any rhythm going in the contest.
“We need to go back and focus on fundamentals,” Dreihaup said. “Taking care of the basketball, running our offense. It was just an ugly game for us.”
Lucky, in Dreihaup’s words, to be up four at halftime, 30-26, North Clarion struggled in the first three-plus minutes of the second half allowing Cornell to grab a 32-30 lead on a pair of Nysia Miles free throws with 4:47 left in the third quarter.
But shortly after the Miles free throws, a switch of sorts was thrown for North Clarion, and the She-Wolves ended the third quarter on an 11-0 run to take control of the game with a 41-32 lead after three quarters.
“We just tried to match how they were playing,” sophomore Abby Gatesman, who had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds while also playing tough defense on Miles, said. “They were playing real physical, and that is how we kind of starting playing towards the end. We just started taking care of the ball a little bit better and making smarter passes.”
Gatesman had a key basket during the run, and Obenrader, who finished with 19 points and 18 rebounds, added four points and two assists, including a pass to Cierah Manross for a bucket with 16.4 seconds left in the quarter that pushed the lead to nine.
“We talked about playing our game,” Dreihaup said. “Our game was getting the ball inside if we had an open look and taking it to the hoop. Just take it to the hoop. The girls started taking it to the hoop and made things happen.”
By taking it to the hoop, North Clarion was able to draw foul after foul against a physical Cornell squad.
That helped put the She-Wolves in the one-and-one with a 1:56 left in the third quarter, and the free-throw line was where North Clarion scored a majority of its points – nine of 13 – in the fourth quarter.
“We got to the foul line,” Dreihaup said. “Had we made our foul shots (North Clarion was 23 of 34 from the line in the game including 9 of 14 in the fourth quarter) it’s a bigger win than it was.”
North Clarion still led by nine, 43-34, following two free throws by Gatesman with 6:19 left.
But Cornell made one last push scoring five straight points – a 3-pointer by Myka Smith, who hit four triples in the game and scored a game-high 20 points, and a steal and a hoop from Maya Goins – to cut North Clarion’s lead to 43-39 with 5:51 to play.
Gatesman, however, earned her Hager Paving Player of the Game honors in the next three minutes.
First, she hit a pair of free throws to get the lead back to six, 45-39, then, after Obenrader had made it 47-39, she rebounded a missed charity shot by Obenrader and fed the 2,000-point senior scorer to make it 49-39 with 4:04 to play. Finally, with 2:45 to go and North Clarion still up just seven, 51-44, Gatesman cut in front of a pass in the lane and intercepted preventing a likely Cornell basket.
“I think we all stepped it up towards the end because we didn’t want to go home,” Gatesman said. “My teammates did a really good job of getting me some fastbreaks that I was able to finish, and we just did a great job defensively.”
Listen to more of what Gatesman had to say after the game.
With North Clarion leading by eight, 52-44, following a free throw by Mackenzie Bauer with 2:24 to go, something strange happened in that Cornell seemed to content to have just kept the game close.
After the Lady Raiders failed to score, North Clarion ran nearly the entire final two minutes off the clock passing the ball around as Cornell allowed them to do it before Gabby Carrl was finally fouled with 11.1 seconds to play with the game out of reach.
North Clarion will take on Farrell in the second round Wednesday at a site and time to be announced Sunday.
NORTH CLARION 54, CORNELL 46
Score by Quarters
Cornell 13 13 6 14 – 46
North Clarion 13 17 11 13 – 54
CORNELL – 46
Nysia Miles 6 2-5 14, Maya Goins 1 0-0 2, Hailey Leitner 1 0-0 2, Amirah Bethel 1 0-0 2, Myka Smith 5 6-7 20, Cy’Moni Harrison 2 0-2 4, Adrriana Mull 0 0-0 0, Patience Gipson 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 8-14 46.
NORTH CLARION – 54
Mackenzie Bauer 0 4-6 4, Cierah Manross 1 2-4 4, Gabby Schmader 1 4-5 7, Gabby Carll 1 2-2 4, Abbey Gatesman 4 7-7 15, Tori Obenrader 8 3-6 19, Haley Sherman 0 1-4 1. Totals 15 23-34 54.
Three-pointers: Cornell 4 (Smith 4). North Clarion 1 (Schmader).
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