The Tyrone boys basketball team has played without a hiccup since mid-January, but an eight-minute stretch Wednesday night probably made Golden Eagle supporters want to put a bag over their heads.
Tyrone entered its District 6 Class AA semifinal against Bishop McCort on a 15-game winning streak, but defensive lapses and trouble rebounding led to a 16-0 Crushers run in the first half. The Golden Eagles rallied but could never fully recover in a 52-46 loss at the Altoona Area High School Fieldhouse.
"We were staring at the ball too much when they were driving it at us," Tyrone coach George Gripp said. "Their guys were slipping in behind us and grabbing rebounds, and we just had some fundamental defensive breakdowns."
Mirror photo by Patrick?Waksmunski
Tyrone’s Cody?Dickson tries to defend Bishop McCort’s Nemo?Trexler.
The Golden Eagles were outrebounded, 18-13, in the first half but bounced back to outrebound McCort, 34-32 for the game. It wasn't enough to recover from that one bad stretch.
The Crushers got baskets from seven different players during the run, which lasted from midway through the first quarter until Charles Wilson-Adams got a steal and a layup with 4:53 left in the second quarter.
"We were able to catch a couple breaks in the first half," Bishop McCort coach Patrick Hollern said. "Our bench got going, we rebounded the ball well and we were getting some easy putbacks."
Bishop McCort led by 16 with 1:03 left in the first half before Brandon Gripp and Richard Crabtree hit a pair of 3-pointers for Tyrone to end the half.
"They were up 16 points, and that's a tough hill to climb against a good team," Coach Gripp said. "[The 3-pointers] gave us some momentum going into the half, and we knew that we were only down five baskets. We knew that we were good enough to make that up."
If not for a few shots spinning out of the hoop, the Golden Eagles may have done just that.
Tyrone pulled within six points to start the fourth quarter, and Crabtree hit a 3-pointer with 7:21 left to make it 39-35. The senior sharpshooter, who finished with a game-high 19 points, missed another trey with 6:12 left that would have cut the McCort lead to one.
"It's tough barely missing those shots," Brandon Gripp said. "Richard and I, every day after practice took over 500 shots to get ready for this game. For those shots not to fall was tough."
Brandon Gripp connected on a 3-pointer with 4:45 to play that trimmed the Crushers' lead to three, but Tyrone could get no closer.
The final nail in the coffin came when Jerqual Wilson made a free throw, missed the second one and Nemo Trexler rebounded the shot and made a putback to put Bishop McCort ahead, 48-41, with 1:54 to play. Trexler finished with a team-high 13 points and 11 rebounds.
"Nemo getting that rebound was key," Hollern said. "When Nemo is locked in to playing defense and rebounding, it gives us an edge."
Brandon Gripp finished with 11 points, and Wilson-Adams, who fouled out with 1:29 to play, also had 11. Steve Franco scored just three points but had a team-high 12 rebounds for the Golden Eagles. Tyrone will play Westmont Hilltop Friday in the Class AA consolation game with a chance to go to the state playoffs on the line.
"It stinks to lose," Coach Gripp said. "The guys are pretty bummed out right now, because we haven't had this feeling in a long time. I know the character and the makeup of those guys, though, and I expect them to come back tomorrow and be ready to go Friday."
BISHOP MCCORT (52): Trexler 6 1-2 13, Hipp 4 1-4 9, Wilson 3 3-6 12, Varga 2 1-3 5, Leech 2 1-2 5, Spangler 2 0-0 4, Howard 1 0-0 2, Barbin 1 0-0 2, Kinter 0 0-0 0, Salvia 0 0-0 0. Totals - 21 7-17 52.
TYRONE (46): Gripp 3 2-3 11, Wilson-Adams 5 1-2 11, Franco 1 1-5 3, Crabtree 7 2-2 19, Dickson 0 0-0 0, Wagner 1 0-2 2. Totals - 17 6-14 46.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop McCort17 14 7 14 - 52
Tyrone9 12 11 14 - 46
3-point goals: Bishop McCort 3 (Wilson 3); Tyrone 6 (Gripp 3, Crabtree 3).
Records: Bishop McCort (16-7); Tyrone (22-3).
Officials: Chuck Glasser, Greg Sipos, Doug Steve.