JOHNSTOWN - The past week has been an emotional roller coaster for the Tussey Mountain girls basketball team.
With an all-senior starting lineup playing their final games, the Lady Titans rose from the agony of losing the District 5 Class AA championship a week ago to the elation of winning a PIAA play-in game in the final minute earlier this week.
The ride came to a screeching halt Friday night. Forest Hills ended Tussey Mountain's season with a 62-35 victory at Richland High School in the opening round of the state playoffs
"It's hard seeing it end for these seniors, my daughter being one of them. I've been with them for every game since they were in fourth grade," Tussey coach Todd Gates said. "They took our program to a new level. They helped put us on the state map, going to the Elite Eight and Sweet 16 for the first time in school history. They've accomplished a lot."
The Lady Titans finished at 19-7. Morgan Gates, Caitlin Foster, Morgan Lemin, Abby Abbott-Watkins and Katie Runk all played in their final high school game.
"I've had a great time playing with these girls. They're like family," Runk said. "We really came together and played as a team. I'm going to miss it."
Forest Hills controlled the game from the opening tip with its superior size and quickness. The District 6 champs jumped out to a 15-2 lead and never looked back.
Runk opened the second quarter with a jump shot from just inside the 3-point line to make it a 19-11 game, but the Lady Rangers outscored Tussey 18-4 the rest of the quarter to take a commanding halftime lead.
"We wanted to come out, play our game and set the tempo," Forest Hills coach Carol Cecere said. "We had everything rolling from the beginning of the game."
Casey Gallaher scored a game-high 20 points. Gallaher's 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter gave her 1,000 points for her career.
Becky Bard added 14 points, and Jess DiFlauro had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Tussey Mountain had no answer inside for 5-foot-9 forwards DiFlauro and Briana Kostan.
"We talked about how this had to be a post game," Cecere said. "Morgan Lemin is very active for them. She shoots well and has some nice inside moves. I didn't want our girls being hesitant, giving her second chances and getting in foul trouble."
Tussey Mountain committed 27 turnovers, allowing Forest Hills to get out on the fast break throughout the game.
"Their quickness hurt us. When they got out on the fastbreak, they were so fast getting down the floor that we couldn't get back on defense," Gates said. "It's more than anything we've seen this season."
Runk led the Lady Titans with nine points. Lemin added eight points and led the team with eight rebounds.
With the win, Forest Hills advances to the second round of the state playoffs. The Lady Rangers will play Keystone Oaks out of District 7 on Tuesday.
TUSSEY MOUNTAIN (35): Abbott-Watkins 2 2-2 6, Runk 2 5-8 9, Lemin 3 2-2 8, Foster 2 1-2 5, Gates 0 0-0 0, Claycomb 0 0-0 0, Kendrick 0 2-2 2, Lynn 1 0-2 2, Reed 1 0-0 3, Rupert 0 0-0 0, Coffman 0 0-0 0, Drenning 0 0-0 0, Stoudnour 0 0-0 0. Totals - 11 12-18 35.
FOREST HILLS (62): Cas. Gallaher 8 2-3 20, Bard 4 6-6 14, B. Kostan 1 0-0 2, DiFlauro 5 0-2 10, Zubeck 1 0-0 2, Marks 1 0-0 2, Cai. Gallaher 2 0-2 4, Gould 2 0-2 4, Meier 2 0-0 4, Swanson 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0, Novotny 0 0-0 0, Ivock 0 0-0 0, Walls 0 0-0 0, Richards 0 0-0 0, M. Kostan 0 0-0 0. Totals - 26 8-15 62.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Tussey Mountain9 6 11 9 - 35
Forest Hills19 18 17 8 - 62
3-point goals: Tussey Mountain 1 (Reed); Forest Hills 2 (Cas. Gallaher).
Records: Tussey Mountain (19-7); Forest Hills (25-2).
Officials: Tom Fountaine, Tim Hite, Todd Parker.