DAVIDSVILE - Tussey Mountain came out of the locker room at halftime knowing that it had an uphill battle ahead of them.
The Titans gave up a late first-half run to Conemaugh Township, and faced a 38-26 deficit to start the second half.
Unfortunately for the Titans, the second half did not go their way. They were held to only one basket and four total points in the frame. The Indians outscored Tussey Mountain, 16-4 ,in the third and never looked back en route to a 68-45 victory in the District 5 Class AA boys semifinals.
"We came out at the beginning of the third quarter, and I thought we got some good looks," Tussey Mountain coach David Bailey said. "A lot of times they didn't give us good looks, so that is to their credit. We obviously had to score the first couple of buckets of the third quarter to be in the game."
Township opened the quarter on a 7-0 run, pushing the lead to 45-26, forcing Bailey to call a timeout. Conemaugh Township continued adding to its lead after the timeout.
The Indians' run was at 11-0, and the lead reached 49-26 before the Titans finally scored their first points of the quarter, a free throw by Eric Husick at the 2:52 mark.
Tussey Mountain had to call another timeout with 1:32 left when the Township run reached 14-1. The Titans got their first basket of the second half with 32.8 seconds left in the quarter. The Indians scored a late layup, and took a 54-30 lead into the final quarter.
The Titans (16-8) outscored Township 15-14 in the final quarter.
"At halftime we stressed that if we came out and played hard-nosed defense, we felt with the lead they wouldn't be able to get back into the game," Conemaugh Township coach Chuck Lesko said. "We just wanted to extend the lead, even if it was only two or three points at a time. We just wanted to keep building on the lead."
The Indians grabbed the momentum in the second quarter. The game was tied 13-13 at that point, but Township opened the quarter on a 14-6 run to take a 27-19 lead. Tussey Mountain called a timeout to stop the Indians momentum.
The Titans came out of the timeout and used a quick 5-0 spurt to close the deficit to 27-24. However, Township finished the half on an 11-2 run to take a 38-26 lead into the half.
"Any time you play against a Tussey Mountain-coached team, you know that you're in for a dogfight," Lesko said. "We knew that we were going to have that. Coach Bailey and his young guys, they'll be back. There's no doubt about that."
Husick led Tussey Mountain with 23 points, but he was the only Titan in double digits. Grant Speigle led Township with 24 points, including his 1,000th point of his career late in the fourth quarter.
"I thought we did some things well early, but we shot the ball poorly," said Bailey. "You can't beat a good team on their court shooting 6 for 26 in the first half. We have shot the ball well from the three point line all year, which we have to do with our situation size wise, but we didn't shoot the ball well tonight."
The Titans return all five of their starting players next year, losing only Mathew Mellott, who comes off the bench, to graduation.
"We had a very good season," said Bailey. "I thought that with a young team we hung in there. All of the kids who were in the rotation were young. We played pretty good. I'm a little disappointed that we ended this way tonight. I thought we would have played a good game. I'm surprised that they blew us out. I thought the game would be tight. We didn't get blown out all year. We lost some tight games, but we didn't get blown out."