BELLEFONTE - Following Tyrone Area High School's boys basketball is something like watching a sprint team, but the Golden Eagles approached the Mountain League championship game more like a marathon.
And, after the Eagles got out ahead of Central Mountain, their finishing kick was devastating.
Richard Crabtree scored 21 points, and Brandon Gripp added 16 - combining for seven 3-pointers - as Tyrone outscored Central Mountain by 23 points over the final 20 minutes to turn what started as a competitive game into a 59-38 rout on Saturday evening at Bellefonte Area High School.
Photo for the Mirror by Christopher Shannon
Tyrone’s Richard Crabtree shoots in a crowd.
"If we hit shots and come out strong, we just keeping going,'' said Gripp, who made three treys, "because once we get on a roll, we just seem to keep going and going and going.''
The top seed in the upcoming District 6 Class AA playoffs, Tyrone raised its record to 21-2. It was the Golden Eagles' 14th consecutive win.
"It's big to win this as a senior. We've wanted to win this for a while,'' said Crabtree. "We've been playing well. Everything's been clicking, so it's just been coming together for us.
"Fourteen in a row? It doesn't really seem like that. But I guess it is.''
Riding the hot hand of junior Cole Renninger, Central Mountain (13-9) had a 17-15 lead when Crabtree turned a baseline pull-up into a three-point play, which he followed up with a 3-pointer on the break off a Gripp feed. Crabtree later added another pull-up jump shot, and Tyrone ended the first half on a 12-5 run.
As the second half began, Tyrone completely asserted its dominance. Eagle coach George Gripp - Brandon's father - put Steve Franco at the top of the key against CM's 2-3 zone, making the Wildcats have to choose between favoring Crabtree or Brandon Gripp on either wing. Crabtree made a 3-pointer from one side to start the half, and Gripp knocked another one down from the other about 45 seconds later.
After a flurry of Tyrone layups, Gripp and Crabtree once again found the range from deep back-to-back, and the Eagles had a 46-23 lead with 1:55 remaining in the third quarter.
"We made a little bit of adjustments at halftime. Overall, I thought the guys did a great job in the second half. We started pulling away, which felt good,'' George Gripp. "This was a great team win for us. This is a tough place for us to play. Typically, we don't shoot that well here.''
It was the third time this season the Eagles have beaten the Wildcats, trimming them by nine on Jan. 11 and posting a 26-point win on Feb. 8. Renninger finished with a game-high 23 points, scoring all 13 of his team's points in the first quarter and netting 18 in the first half, but the rest of the Wildcats were 6-for-27 from the floor and 2-for-13 on 3-pointers.
"Early, we were able to stay in the game because Renninger was playing really well. But we knew if they shot well we'd be in trouble,'' Central Mountain coach Scott Baker said. "Gripp and Crabtree were unconscious from the 3-point line. We tried everything. They're a better basketball team.''
While Crabtree and Gripp were the key scorers, Tyrone had plenty of contributions elsewhere. Charles Wilson-Adams had five steals and three assists to go with eight points, and Franco had four assists and seven rebounds.
"This was one of our goals,'' Crabtree said. "Now that we've crossed that off the list, we have to play well in the playoffs.''
CENTRAL MOUNTAIN (38): Blazina 0 1-2 1, Renninger 9 0-2 23, Dicello 0 0-0 0, V. Walker 1 0-0 2, Allen 0 0-0 0, Everhart 2 0-0 4, Fisher 0 0-2 0, Turchetta 2 0-0 5, Wise 0 0-0 0, B. Walker 1 0-0 3. Totals - 15 1-6 38.
TYRONE (59): B. Gripp 6 1-2 16, Crabtree 8 1-1 21, Franco 1 3-4 5, Wilson-Adams 4 0-0 8, Dickson 3 0-2 6, Wagner 1 0-0 2, Fowler 0 1-2 1, Miller 0 0-0 0, Soellner 0 0-0 0, Hample 0 0-0 0, Ingle 0 0-0 0. Totals - 23 6-11 59.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central Mountain13 9 6 10-38
Tyrone11 16 21 11-59
3-point goals: Central Mountain 7 (Renninger 5, Turchetta, B. Walker); Tyrone 7 (Crabtree 4, Gripp 3).
Officials: Buddy Johnson, Mike Conron, Kevin Lewis.
Team records: Central Mountain (13-9); Tyrone (21-2).