BELLWOOD - Even for an experienced, talented, upper classmen-laden basketball team like Tyrone, first-game jitters can come into play.
That was the case Friday night, but the Golden Eagles didn't stay in a funk for very long.
After a sluggish first quarter in which Tyrone led archrival Bellwood-Antis by just one point, 9-8, the Eagles amped up their press and transition game in the second quarter, which they carried, 25-14, en route to a 68-47 victory in the Bellwood-Antis High School gymnasium.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Tyrone’s Dalton McKeehen tries to put up a shot in front of Bellwood-Antis defender Sean Harrity.
"In the first quarter, we had the typical first-game jitters, but we knew that we could do better and we stayed the course,'' Tyrone coach George Gripp said. "We picked up our press a little bit in the second quarter, and we got into a groove.''
After freshman Ethan McGee's 3-pointer gave Bellwood a short-lived 11-9 lead, Tyrone took control with a 3-pointer from the left side by standout senior guard Brandon Gripp, a steal and bucket by junior Blake Brooks, and a driving layup by junior Tristan Lingafelt for a 16-11 lead.
After another McGee 3-pointer from the left side pulled Bellwood to within 16-14, Tyrone carried the rest of the quarter, 18-8, to take a 34-22 halftime lead.
Brandon Gripp, who scored a game-high 25 points, started the surge with a field goal, and Lingafelt converted a steal into another bucket to put Tyrone up, 20-14.
After sophomore Nathan Davis, whose 24 points led all Bellwood scorers, hit one of his six 3-pointers on the night to make it a 20-17 game, buckets by Brooks, senior Erik Wagner, and sophomore Anthony Politza, along with two free throws by Lingafelt, helped Tyrone open a 29-20 advantage with 1:51 left in the first half.
Lingafelt's basket off a steal and junior Shane Geis' 3-pointer closed the first-half scoring for Tyrone.
"We had a couple starters go out with foul trouble early, but I'm proud of our younger guys for stepping in and doing a good job,'' Coach Gripp said. "They extended our lead.''
Tyrone won the third quarter, 22-15, to stretch its lead to a commanding 56-37 after three periods.
Brandon Gripp scored 10 points in the period, including two 3's, and senior guard Jordan Miller sank three field goals, including two 3-balls, to account for eight more points.
"After the first quarter, we knew what we had to do,'' Brandon Gripp said. "We came out in the second half, played our type of basketball, and took the game away.''
Bellwood-Antis coach Brent Gerwert was pleased with what his young team - which starts only one senior and plays several sophomores and freshmen - showed in its first outing.
"I thought we played very, very well,'' Gerwert said. "Tyrone is a very good team, but I thought we did a great job keeping our composure. We still have a lot of learning to do, but we're going to be OK.''
Game notes: Miller had 13 points for Tyrone, which got seven rebounds from Wagner and six from senior Dalton McKeeehen ... Junior Sean Harrity corraled five rebounds for Bellwood, which converted 18 of 44 floor shots ... Tyrone's jayvees rode Brooks' 23 points to a 61-38 victory over Bellwood's junior varsity, which got 14 points from Joe Padula ... Tyrone visits Mountain League foe Bellefonte Tuesday night. Bellwood-Antis hosts Claysburg-Kimmel next Friday night.
TYRONE (68): Gripp 8 5-7 25, Wagner 2 0-0 4, Brooks 2 0-0 5, Geis 1 0-0 3, Lingafelt 3 2-4 8, Lewis 0 0-0 0, Mitchell 0 1-2 1, Politza 2 1-2 5, McKeehen 2 0-2 4, Miller 5 0-0 13. Totals - 25 9-17 68.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS (47): Bartlett 4 0-0 9, Davis 9 2-2 24, Burch 0 2-3 2, Harrity 1 0-0 2, McGee 3 0-0 8, Taneyhill 1 0-0 2, Shultz 0 0-0 0, McCaulley 0 0-0 0, Burr 0 0-0 0, D'Angelo 0 0-0 0, Padula 0 0-0 0. Totals - 18 4-5 47.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Tyrone9 25 22 10 - 68
Bellwood-Antis8 14 15 12 - 47
3-point goals: Tyrone 9 (Gripp 4, Miller 3, Geis, Brooks); Bellwood-Antis 7 (Davis 4, McGee 2, Bartlett).
Records: Tyrone (1-0); Bellwood-Antis (0-1).
JV: Tyrone, 61-38. High scorers-Blake Brooks, T, 23; Joe Padula, BA, 14.
Officials: Justin Frear, Buddy Johnson, Jeff Fisher.