By Chris Rossetti
CLARION, Pa. – It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t easy but it was a win, 47-40, over Frazier for the Clarion girls’ basketball team in the opening round of the PIAA Class A championships Saturday night at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym.
The District 9 champions shot just 32.3 percent (20 of 62) including 21.4 percent (6 of 28) in the second half to get the win over the upset minded Commodores (16-6), the fifth-place team out of the WPIAL.
“The game wasn’t easy,” Clarion head coach Roger Walter said. “That’s probably not the best way to put it. What I like is put ourselves in position winning the district that we could be not at our best and still pull a game out. I told the girls in the lockerroom that was the outcome of the week we had. Kyla (Miles) missed two days of school sick, Grace (Kroh) missed a day sick, we had trip to (Washington) D.C., we only had one day in the last five where our team was altogether. It absolutely could show. I’m just glad we put ourselves in a position like I said to be ok with that.”
Clarion (21-6) probably played to its expectation in just one of the four quarters – the second.
In the second quarter, Clarion opened up a 15-point lead, 30-15, thanks to a quarter-starting 23-8 run that saw six different Lady Cats score led by nine points from Kyla Miles, who had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and six from Maci Thornton, who finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and six steals.
“The difference was Kyla,” Walter said. “Kyla played like a monster all night. She was very difficult for them to stop in there with the mismatches.”
Frazier, though, was able to get back to 11, 32-21, at the end of the half thanks to four points from Lauren Timko, who led the Commodores with 15 points, 10 rebounds and four steals.
“I don’t think we ever hit our stride defensively,” Walter said. “I didn’t like the style of the game. It was a little too slow. There was no flow to it. We tried to do some different things, throw in some defenses, press them a little, but nothing seemed to get us out of the funk we were in. In was just kind of like an odd slow game.”
Odd would sum up the performance of Thornton, who came into the game fresh off a District 9 playoffs that saw her average 20.7 ppg in three games leading Clarion to its second straight D9 title.
Her final line, as mentioned above, was pretty good with the double-double and the strong defense, but the junior, who entered the game 22 points shy of 1,000, seemed to be pressing at times and ended up taking half of Clarion’s 62 shots going just 5 of 31 from the floor.
“I think she was pressing being close to a 1,000,” Walter said. “But she was one of the players who was on a trip this week, and with two hours of sleep the very next practice she said she didn’t have any legs. That was only Thursday. I still don’t think she had any legs.”
With Clarion leading by 11 going to the second half, the game seemed to come to a standstill in the third quarter with neither team doing much scoring – Frazier had five points and Clarion 2 – with the quarter ending with the Lady Cats still ahead by eight, 34-26.
The Lady Cats then used a 9-4 spurt in the fourth quarter to take an 11-point advantage, 43-32, on a Laken Ganoe jumper with 3:43 to play.
Ganoe had a solid effort with six points, five steals, two blocked shots, two rebounds and two assists.
“That’s Laken’s role,” Walter said. “She is going to get you six or eight points and she is going to give you 32 minutes of hustle. That’s her. She won’t stop running.”
Despite the 11-point lead, Clarion had trouble putting Frazier away with the Commodores getting within five, 45-40, with 1:18 to play.
But that was as close as it got, as Thornton and Lauren Wiser each hit one of two free throws in the final 39 seconds to seal the victory.
Clarion faces Quigley Catholic, the third-place team out of the WPIAL, in the second round Wednesday at a site and time to be determined. Quigley beat Southern Fulton 43-33 Saturday.
CLARION 47, FRAZIER 40
Score by Quarters
Frazier 7 14 5 14 – 40
Clarion 7 25 2 13 – 47
FRAZIER – 40
TIMKO, Lauren 5-8 5-8 15; BAROTA, Kaley 3-7 0-2 6; GUISER, Cassidy 2-15 2-3 6; KLINE, Hannah 1-6 1-2 4; MARSHALL, Emily 2-5 0-0 4; MUCCIOLI, Jamie 1-8 1-2 3; BLASZCZAK, Alena 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 15-51 9-17 40.
CLARION – 47
MILES, Kyla 9-12 1-1 19; THORNTON, Maci 5-31 2-3 12; GANOE, Laken 3-7 0-0 6; KROH, Grace 1-4 3-5 5; WISER, Lauren 1-1 1-2 3; REED, Anna 1-3 0-0 2; BARTLEY, Olivia 0-0 0-0 0; WEAVER, Paige 0-0 0-0 0; GLENN, Nicki 0-4 0-0 0; BEICHNER, Katelyn 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-62 7-11 47.
3-point goals–Frazier 1-11 (KLINE, Hannah 1-4; GUISER, Cassidy 0-7), Clarion 0-6 (; THORNTON, Maci 0-2; REED, Anna 0-2; GLENN, Nicki 0-2).
Rebounds–Frazier 41 (TIMKO, Lauren 10), Clarion 47 (THORNTON, Maci 11).
Assists–Frazier 10 (BAROTA, Kaley 4), Clarion 10 (GLENN, Nicki 4).