SAXTON - Defense and free throw shooting aren't the most glamorous parts of basketball, but they sure can determine the outcome of a game.
The Tussey Mountain girls basketball team relied heavily on both Thursday to knock off Northern Bedford, 62-55, at a packed Tussey Mountain High School gym.
The Lady Titans went 25-of-31 from the free throw line and held Northern Bedford to just two points during a key stretch of the fourth quarter to secure the win over the Lady Panthers, which beat Tussey by 18 at their gym on Jan. 3.
"We got thumped. We did not play very well," Tussey coach Todd Gates said of the teams' previous meeting. "I knew we were better than that. I didn't know if we were good enough to win, but I knew it would be a much more competitive game this time around."
Olivia Claycomb and Breana Kendrick led the Lady Titans with 18 points apiece. Morgan Lynn just missed a double-double with nine points and 12 rebounds. Paige Reed scored nine points as well.
Claycomb was a perfect 12-for-12 from the free throw line.
"I've never had a game where I shot foul shots that well," Claycomb said. "This will definitely boost our confidence to win a high-intensity game in front a packed gym. I like the added pressure."
Trailing 44-40 entering the fourth quarter, Tussey Mountain outscored the Lady Panthers 11-2 over the first 4:45 of the final period to seize control of the game.
After she opened the quarter with a putback, Claycomb sank two free throws on the Lady Titans next possession, and Reed followed with a layup to give Tussey Mountain the lead.
Leah Hershberger made a pair of free throws to pull Northern even, but Lynn's putback of a Claycomb miss and two more Claycomb free throws put Tussey ahead for good.
At that point Gates decided to pull the ball out and run the clock down, forcing Northern Bedford to foul.
"We pulled it out a little earlier than normal because they can score a bunch of point in a hurry," Gates said. "We wanted to make them come out and foul us."
Lynn's 3-point play later in the quarter helped seal the win. After making the first of two free throws, she missed the second but was able to grab the rebound and score from the lane.
"They did a good job on our shooters. Sam Coffman did a good job defending Leah [Hershberger]," Northern coach Todd Eckenroad said. "We need to do a better crashing the boards and work on executing a few other things."
Hershberger still managed to a score a team-high 16 points. Cierra Cottle put in 15 points, and Alyssa Smith added 12 for the Lady Panthers.
NORTHERN BEDFORD (55): Cottle 6 2-3 15, Hershberger 4 4-4 16, Clark 0 0-0 0, Smith 3 4-7 12, Beach 3 0-1 6, Drenning 1 4-4 6, Gochnour 0 0-0 0. Totals - 17 14-19 55.
TUSSEY MOUNTAIN (62): Lynn 3 3-4 9, Kendrick 5 6-9 18, Coffman 1 2-2 4, Reed 4 0-0 9, Claycomb 3 12-12 18, Rupert 0 2-4 2, Stoudnour 1 0-0 2. Totals - 17 25-31 62.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
3-point goals: Northern Bedford 7 (Hershberger 4, Smith 2, Cottle); Tussey Mountain 3 (Kendrick 2, Reed).
Records: Northern Bedford (12-6 overall, 9-3 ICC South, 10-3 SHL); Tussey Mountain (13-5 overall, 7-3 ICC South, 8-4 SHL).
JV: Tussey Mountain, 44-20. High scorers-Drenning 10 (NB); Stoudnour 19 (TM).