HOLLIDAYSBURG - The Tyrone girls basketball team's district playoff experience this year is quite different than the past two seasons.
As a Class AAA team in 2011 and 2012, the Lady Eagles wrapped up the regular season and went right to the district championship game, where they lost to Hollidaysburg both times.
The move to Class AA this season means Tyrone has to win three games just to reach the district finals. The Lady Eagles got the first one Monday, defeating Mountain League foe Philipsburg-Osceola, 71-46, at the Hollidaysburg Junior High School gym.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Tyrone’s Alexis Brooks battles two Philipsburg-Osceola defenders for a rebound.
"There's definitely a lot of hard competition to make the finals," Tyrone junior Jordyn Swogger said. "As we move on, we'll keep facing facing better teams. We have to be ready to play."
Sixth-seeded Tyrone came out ready to play against Philipsburg and took full advantage of 14 P-O turnovers to build a 24-point first half lead.
Tyrone jumped out to a 17-4 lead then ripped off 14 points in the middle part of the second quarter for a 34-10 advantage.
"Starting the game, we tried to tell them to come out strong and be ready to play," Philipsburg coach Doug Myers said. "When you have a point guard who's a freshman and two sophomores, it's tough for them to calm down and relax no matter how many times you tell them."
After an Alexis Brooks bucket started the second quarter run, Nicole Gripp knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers. Brooks than sandwiched a pair of hoops around a Swogger layup, on which Brooks assisted.
Gripp finished with a game-high 20 points, 16 of which came in the first half. Four Lady Eagles broke double digits in all.
Swogger scored 17 points, Finnley Christine had 14, and Brooks added 12. Morgan Taylor led Tyrone with eight rebounds.
"I thought we came out pretty well in the first quarter, but then we got a little complacent," Tyrone coach Luke Rhoades said. "Philipsburg was very, very aggressive all 32 minutes. We did not play with the same intensity as the game went one."
Two Lady Mounties scored in double digits. Alyssa Myers and Briana Rusnak each put in 13 points. Rusnak also grabbed eight rebounds. Haylee Hayward finished with eight points, and Abby Showers added seven.
With the win, Tyrone advances to play third-seeded Westmont Hilltop in the quarterfinals Friday at a site and time to be announced.
"AA is definitely very solid. To be the sixth seed with our record [17-6] gives you a good idea how deep AA is," Rhoades said.
Philipsburg's season ends at 10-13. The Lady Mounties doubled last year's win total of five.
"We had two goals at the start of the year. The first was to reach double digits in wins. We accomplished that. The second was get to the playoffs. We accomplished that," Myers said. "I think we gained a lot of respect from the other teams in our league and teams throughout the area."
PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA (46): Myers 6 1-2 13, Hayward 4 0-0 8, Burge 0 0-1 0, Showers 2 2-4 7, Rusnak 4 5-5 13, Meersand 1 0-0 2, Bone 1 0-1 2, Whitehead 0 1-2 1, Miller 0 0-0 0. Totals - 18 9-15 46.
TYRONE (71): Christine 5 4-4 14, Gripp 8 0-0 20, Swogger 7 2-2 17, Taylor 2 0-3 4, Brooks 6 0-0 12, Hammond 2 0-0 4, Kemp 0 0-0 0, Raftery 0 0-0 0, Noll 0 0-0 0, Sprankle 0 0-0 0, Reese 0 0-0 0, Gill 0 0-0 0. Totals - 30 6-9 71.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Philipsburg-Osceola8 8 15 15 - 46
Tyrone17 21 19 14 - 71
3-point goals: Philipsburg-Osceola 1 (Showers); Tyrone 5 (Gripp 4, Swogger).
Records: Philipsburg-Osceola (10-13); Tyrone (17-6).