As area squads begin to round into shape for postseason play, the Port Allegany girls basketball team maintained its second-place rank in the North Tier League standings, chalking up two more double-digit wins in last week’s play to stay a game behind league-leading Coudersport.

The Gators held Northern Potter to eight first-half points in their Jan. 13 meeting, including just two free throws in the second quarter, to cruise to a 47-29 victory. Cailey Barnett (14 points, four steals, three blocks) and Bree Garzel (11 points, three assists, three steals) hit double digits for Port, which also saw contributions from Evin Stauffer (eight points) and Shannon Curfman (seven points, five steals). Courtney Martin led the Panthers with 14 points.

Despite missing one starter due to injury and losing another one late in the first half, Cameron County presented a stiffer challenge in Friday’s contest at Port, matching the Gators possession-for-possession until a 14-0 third-quarter run gave the home team some breathing room in a 48-33 win.

“I thought both teams played some pretty solid defense. A good old-fashioned Northern Tier battle,” Port Allegany coach Jamie Evens said.

The first half featured three ties and four lead changes, with Red Raider junior Kaelee Bresslin drilling back-to-back 3-pointers to keep the visiting team close before a Garzel trifecta and a Curfman bucket at the buzzer opened up a 25-19 Port margin.

“They hit some big shots in the first half, but I didn’t think they had open shots. I thought we were playing good defense, and they have a couple of good shooters,” Evens said.

Bresslin hit another 3 midway through the third frame to draw Cameron County back within 29-26, but it was all Gators for the rest of the quarter. Garzel started the run with a drive to the basket, Gracie Archer followed with a triple, Barnett added a pair of jumpers and an assist on a Garzel basket before the junior point guard capped the onslaught by swishing another 3-pointer with eight seconds remaining to open up a 43-26 gap.

“I think we had nine total turnovers for the game; that’s below our average for sure, so I thought we did a good job there. And just effort,” Evens said. “Finally in the third quarter, we started hitting some shots ourselves. We definitely didn’t shoot well in the first half; we shot much better in the third quarter, which really opened it up.”

The Gator defense clamped down in the final frame, allowing just one Red Raider basket to secure the season sweep. With CC focusing on stopping Barnett (eight points, nine rebounds, five steals), Garzel took over scoring honors with a game-best 21 points and seven assists, with Stauffer adding five boards and Curfman contributing eight points before leaving the game during the third quarter.

“She started earlier in the year. We’re bringing her off the bench now intentionally, because she really gives us an offensive spark,” Evens said of the junior post player. “I think it’s important when we bring our subs in that we get that spark coming off the bench. She’s the key to that.”

The win puts the Gators at 11-2 (7-1 NTL), with the second half of the league schedule coming up. This week’s slate includes games at Austin (Jan. 21), home against Otto-Eldred (Jan. 23), and at Ridgway (Jan. 25, 7 p.m.)

“It’s where we want to be,” Evens said. “We have Otto next week and then Coudy the following week here at home. We need to pull those two out. Our goal remains to win the league, and that’s what we’re focused on. And then in the middle of those two we’ve got to go to Ridgway, who’s another tough defensive team playing really well this year. That will be a good matchup for us to get us prepared for the playoffs, and hopefully get us prepared for Coudy the game after that.”

Next week; at Smethport, Jan. 27; Coudersport, Jan. 29; at Oswayo Valley (varsity only), Jan. 31.

At Port Allegany, Jan. 13:

Northern Potter (29)

Burchell 1 0-0 2, Anderson 3 3-5 9, Courtney Martin 5 4-6 14, Hyde 1 0-0 2, Zdrojewski 0 2-2 2. Totals: 10 9-13 29.

Port Allegany (47)

Archer 1 0-0 3, Stauffer 3 2-4 8, Garzel 3 5-8 11, Daniels 1 0-0 2, Barnett 5 0-0 14, Curfman 3 1-4 7, Causer 1 0-0 2. Totals: 17 8-16 47.

Northern Potter 6 8 17 29

Port Allegany 13 28 35 47

3s: NP 0, Port 5 (Barnett 4, Archer). Fouls: NP 15, Port 14. Fouled out: Burchell (NP).

At Port Allegany, Jan. 17:

Cameron County (33)

Bresslin 5 4-5 17, Lorenzo 2 0-2 4, E. Farabaugh 0 2-4 2, Lamont 0 1-3 1, McKimm 3 0-0 7, Robinson 1 0-0 2. Totals: 11 7-14 33.

Port Allegany (48)

Archer 2 0-0 5, Stauffer 0 4-4 4, Garzel 8 1-3 21, Barnett 4 0-0 8, Evens 1 0-0 2, Curfman 4 0-0 8. Totals: 19

5-7 48.

Cameron County 8 19 26 33

Port Allegany 11 25 39 44

3s: CC 4 (Bresslin 3, McKimm), Port 6 (Garzel 4, Archer, Barnett). Fouls: CC 11, Port 11. Fouled out: Daniels (PA).