Thirty-Year Wait is Over; North Clarion Girls Move into D9 Semifinals; Secure PIAA Bid
CLARION, Pa. (D9SPORTS) – Thirty years.
That is how long it had been since a North Clarion girls’ basketball team saw its name in a PIAA bracket.
But that streak came to an end Friday night when the She-Wolves overcame a slow start to knock off Union, 51-45, in the District 9 Class A quarterfinals and in the process not only clinch a PIAA playoff spot, just the second in school history, but also keep alive hopes of the school’s first District 9 title.
“It’s fantastic,” North Clarion senior Abbie Schmader, who was a member of the She-Wolves 1-212 team as a freshman, said. “When I started out as a freshman, we really weren’t winning a lot of games. But now our team keeps getting better and better, and we are winning as a team.
“We’ve been working hard all year long, and this is great, to have a win like this and keep advancing in the District 9 playoffs.”
(Tori Obenrader had 20 points, 19 rebounds for North Clarion. Photo by George Powers)
Upset-minded Union, perhaps still riding some of the wave of excitement created by its boys’ team knocking of Clarion-Limestone in the game right before, jumped out to a 10-0 lead four minutes into the game turning four North Clarion turnovers into seven quick points.
“I think it was nerves built up,” Schmader said. “We all came out excited. But I also think we had the butterflies in the stomach. But after the first quarter, we really shook them off and played our game.”
That game is going inside to Schmader and sophomore Tori Obenrader.
The duo, as they have done all year long, combined to score 36 points with Obenrader having a monster double-double with 20 points and 19 rebounds.
Union had no answer in the second quarter for Obenrader, as she netted 10 points in the quarter and helped turn a 12-4 gap going into the quarter into a 19-18 lead with just over a minute left in the frame.
“She is a real beast,” Schmader said. “Every time she gets the rebound or gets the shot, she is going to look for me or I’m going to look for her and we all see each other.”
Union was able to steal some momentum back at the break when Lexey Shick, who scored 20 points herself, hit a 3-pointer off a scramble from about 2-feet behind the arc at the horn giving Union a 22-21 halftime lead.
But that lead didn’t last very long, as Obenrader connected on an old-school 3-pointer play coming out of halftime to give North Clarion a 24-22 lead, and the She-Wolves never trailed again and were only tied once more, at 24.
Schmader gave North Clarion the lead for good with 5:52 to go in the third quarter starting a quarter-ending 13-5 run that put the She-Wolves head 37-29 going to the fourth quarter.
The real key to the turnaround, was North Clarion’s ability to take care of the basketball.
After turning the ball over 10 times in the first quarter, the She-Wolves only had seven turnovers in the next two quarters combined.
“Again, I think it was the nerves as well,” Schmader said. “After we slowed it down, I think everybody lost those nerves and we were able to really see each other on the court and all the open spots.”
North Clarion will take on 11th-seeded Elk County Catholic in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym.
NORTH CLARION 51, UNION 45
Score by Quarters
Union 12 10 7 16 – 45
N. Clarion 4 17 16 14 – 51
UNION – 45
Shaley Shick 2 3-4 8, Hannah Atzeni 0 0-0 0, Kali Flick 5 0-2 11, Frankee Remmick 1 0-0 2, Lexey Shick 7 3-4 20, Hailey Schrecengost 2 0-0 4, Bryn Davis 0 0-0 0, Rainne Chains 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 6-10 45.
NORTH CLARION – 51
Taylor Gatesman 1 3-6 5, Abbie Schmader 7 2-4 16, Cassie Wagner 1 3-6 5, Tori Obenrader 8 4-6 20, Michaela Higgins 0 2-3 2, Sarah Schettler 0 0-0 0, Ally Carll 0 0-0 0, Erika Sherman 1 0-0 3. Totals 18 14-25 51.
THREE-POINTERS – Union 5 (L. Shick 3, S. Shick, Flick). North Clarion 1 (Sherman).
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