ST. MARYS — Three minutes into the District 9 AA boys basketball playoff game on Thursday between Curwensville and Coudersport, the Golden Tide held a lead and had not yet surrendered a basket. Once the Falcons scored, the switch was flipped, and they never looked back. By the end of the first quarter, Coudersport had a 14-7 advantage.
The No. 2 seed Falcons kept things rolling outscoring the No. 7 seed Golden Tide 30-9 in the second quarter — a hole too steep to climb out of for Curwensville. Coudersport eased to a 71-46 win to advance in the District 9 playoffs and end the season for the Golden Tide.
Curwensville head coach Matt Wassil had a game plan to slow the tempo down early and limit the transition offense of a Coudersport team who averaged 77 points per game in the regular season. The strategy worked for most of the first quarter, but a well-balanced scoring attack and high pressure defense from the Falcons were too much for the Golden Tide.
“In the second quarter is when the game changed,” Wassil said. “They started to extend their 1-3-1 and we just kept throwing them the ball.
“Even when we had opportunities, they were getting deflections on some passes. Once they extended the lead to 17, 18 at that point you can’t slow the ball down.”
Coudersport coach Brian Furman attributed the slow start to “getting use to a playoff game.” Once his team found confidence, they were an unyielding force.
“We were able to get some stops that turned into some turnovers that turned into some layups and easy baskets,” Furman noted. “That’s a good solid team that plays hard. For us to play our man defense, we really had to work at it.”
For Coudersport, scoring came from every avenue on Thursday. The starting five contributed 50 points led by Owen Chambers who had a team-high 19 points. Off the bench, Hayden Keck provided 14 points, including a pair of threes.
Although down 44-16 at the half, the Golden Tide resolve did not fade in the second half. Curwensville outscored their opponent 30-27 down the stretch, which included a 20-point fourth quarter.
It was hustle plays by Golden Tide players Dakota Bloom, who forced a pair of steals, and Avery Francisco, who led all players with 9 rebounds, that helped turn momentum the Curwensville way.
“I think our kids showed, one, a lot of fight to keep playing. Two, they showed we can be competitive with some really good teams,” Wassil remarked.
Curwensville was led by the performance of senior Josh Terry. In his last high school game, Terry poured in a game-high 25 points, 18 of which came in the final two quarters.
“Josh has played exceptional for us all year,” Wassil noted. “In the second half, I was pleased to see he didn’t play to the score, he just kept playing. I give him all the credit in the world.”
Although it was not the ending they were hoping for, Wassil said he was proud of his guys effort throughout this entire season — especially his seniors — who helped win a share of the Moshannon Valley League title for the first time in more than a decade.
“Our seniors have helped grow our program. They’ve really been there through thick and thin,” Wassil added. “Guys like Nate McKenrick and Devan Barrett have been staples for our program. I think those seniors have to proud of where they got us.”