DAVIDSVILLE - Conemaugh Township held off a second-half comeback by Tussey Mountain in Wednesday night's District 5 Class AA boys semifinal contest as the defending champion Indians eliminated the Titans, 68-55.
The fourth-seeded Titans (16-8) trailed by 13 at the half before a 10-2 run cut the deficit to 33-28 at the 4:25 mark of the third. Top-seeded Township (21-3) again built a double-digit lead before Tussey pulled within 55-49 with a little less than four minutes to play. The Indians were then able to break the Titan press for several layups during a 10-2 surge that made it a 14-point game with less than two minutes to play.
"I was pleased with how we fought back and gave ourselves a chance," Titans coach Dave Bailey said. "We didn't defend as well as we should have, but that doesn't take away from the fact that Conemaugh Township played very well."
The Indians will compete for the district championship at 6 p.m. Saturday at Pitt-Johnstown against Northern Bedford.
"We knew they [Tussey Mountain] were never going to go away," Township coach Chuck Lesko said. "Coach Bailey's got a bunch of tough kids over there.
"We were able to answer their runs by running the floor and finding the open man."
Mike Runk's layup gave Tussey Mountain a 9-8 lead at the end of a low-scoring opening quarter, but Township's offense heated up in the second. Dillon Boyer scored seven of his game-high 27 for the Indians during a 9-0 run that made it 17-9. Another surge of seven unanswered Indian points later in the quarter gave Township its biggest lead of the half at 29-15.
"That second quarter was the key to the game," Bailey said. "We shot poorly and took too many quick shots, and they took advantage."
The Titans hit just 4 of 22 from the field in the first half.
Luke Zelanko and Michael Mitchell sparked the third quarter rally by the Titans. Zelanko scored seven of his team-leading 15 points in the period, and Mitchell, who finished with 14, hit consecutive shots to pull Tussey within five.
The Titans trailed by nine heading into the fourth quarter, but after a Boyer 3-pointer that made it 51-41 with 5:25 remaining, Mitchell hit two in a row from beyond the arc to trim the Titan deficit to six with 3:44 left. However, Tussey Mountain could get no closer. Josh Burns scored on consecutive transition layups to put Township back up 61-49, and the Indians were able to secure the win.
"Boyer is our senior leader, and he sparked us," Lesko said.
Tussey Mountain (55): Runk 2 2-2 6, Zelanko 5 5-6 15, Mitchell 4 3-3 14, Wilson 2 0-0 4, Husick 4 6-7 14, Kline 1 0-0 2, Cornelius 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 16-18 55.
Conemaugh Township (68): Boyer 8 9-10 27, Fisher 3 0-0 6, Speigle 1 1-2 4, Sotosky 6 0-1 12, Burns 4 2-3 10, Callihan 2 2-4 6, Steeves 1 0-0 3. Totals: 25 14-22 68.
Tussey Mtn.9 9 17 20 - 55
Conemaugh Twp.8 23 13 24 - 68
3-point goals: Tussey Mountain 3 (Mitchell 3) Conemaugh Township 4 (Boyer 2, Speigle, Steeves).
Records: Tussey Mountain (16-8), Conemaugh Township (21-3).