TYRONE - The Tyrone boys basketball team returns just three letterwinners from from a season ago, from a team that cruised to a 22-4 record in the Mountain League.
One very familiar name that is back from that group is junior Brandon Gripp. The 6-foot-1 guard showed off his experience, too, as he lit up Huntingdon, scoring a career-high 33 points and leading the Golden Eagles to a 63-61 double-overtime win Tuesday night at Tyrone High School's gymnasium.
"We're a young team," Tyrone coach George Gripp said. "We're playing a lot of inexperienced players, so it was obviously a big win."
Early in the third quarter, the Golden Eagles were cruising along with a 15-point lead, but things quickly got more exciting soon after that.
Huntingdon went on a 9-4 run the rest of the quarter, and began the fourth quarter by scoring the first seven points before the host team even scored a point.
By that time, Huntingdon only trailed by a two-point margin. Then, the Bearcats cut the deficit to just one, after a trey by sophomore guard Nate Gearhart.
With less than 30 seconds remaining, Preston Mitchell laid one in to give Tyrone a 51-48 lead. With 10 seconds left in regulation, Josh Foster scored the most important bucket of the 13 points he would score, this one a trey to put the game into overtime.
Greg Kurtz's layup to begin the first four-minute overtime period gave the Bearcats their first lead since there was 3:20 left in the first quarter.
Tyrone would score the next five points, though, and would regain a 56-53 lead with just over two minutes left to play. After baskets by Devon Claar and Gearhart that gave the Bearcats a 57-56 lead, Brandon Gripp went to the charity stripe needing to drain both in order to win the game, or just one to send it into a second overtime. Gripp made one-of-two to tie the game again.
Foster started the second overtime by drilling his second trey of the ballgame, and after Gripp hit one-of-two from the line, Claar went two-for-two to give the Bearcats a 62-58 lead with just 1:32 left on the clock.
This is when Gripp decided he was not going to let his team lose, dialing long distance with a 3-pointer to cut the Huntingdon lead to 62-61 with 48 seconds left.
Claar failed to convert on either of his free throws, keeping it a one-point Huntingdon lead and setting the stage for some more Gripp magic. The guard made a jumper with less than 10 seconds remaining - sealing the victory for the Golden Eagles.
Huntingdon coach Nick Payne was proud of the way his team responded by fighting and battling after getting down by 15 early.
"These kids worked hard," Payne said. "We got down early but buckled down after. Unfortunately, it took too much energy for us to get back into the game."
Tyrone upped its record to 3-0 and travels to Central Friday. The Bearcats fell to 2-2 and host Penns Valley Friday.
HUNTINGDON (61): Claar 7 2-4 16, Foster 3 5-6 13, Lovett 0 0-0 0, Gearhart 8 2-3 21, Robinson 1 0-0 2, Kurtz 4 1-2 9. Totals 23 10-15 61 .
TYRONE (63): Ingle 2 0-0 4, Mitchell 2 0-0 4, Wagner 5 0-1 10, Gripp 10 7-12 33, Fowler 2 0-2 4, Politza 1 0-0 2, Belinda 1 2-2 4, Soellner 1 0-0 2 . Totals 24 9-17 63.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Huntingdon 16 4 11 20 6 4 61
Tyrone 17 13 10 11 6 6 63
3-point field goals: Huntingdon 5 (Foster 2, Gearhart 3); Tyrone 6 (Gripp 6).
Records: Huntingdon (2-2); Tyrone (3-0).
JV: Tyrone, 56-28. High scorers Cook, H, 7; Soellner, T, 13.