SAXTON - Some players on the Northern Bedford County High School boys basketball team weren't born yet the last time it won in Saxton.
That drought is now over after an excellent shooting and rebounding effort brought the Black Panthers a 71-59 win over Tussey Mountain on Friday night.
"The kids were ready for this," Northern coach Jason Free said. "Before the game I put 1998 on the board and told them that was the last time Northern Bedford won down here. I have players on the team that weren't born yet, and none of these guys saw that happen. It's definitely very hard to win here."
The Panthers (13-2 overall, 7-1 Inter-County Conference South, 7-1 Sideling Hill League) placed three players in double figures with Kyler Diehl scoring 21 points, Blake Over 20 and Zane Snyder 17. Northern Bedford remained in first place in the ICC South and the Sideling Hill League, as well as moving its winning streak to five games.
Michael Mitchell and Luke Zelanko each scored 17 points for the Titans (6-6 overall, 4-3 ICC South, 3-5 SHL).
"They deserved to win. They outplayed us," Tussey Mountain coach Dave Bailey said. "We shot the ball OK but not good enough."
Both teams set a fast pace in the first quarter. Northern took a 7-0 lead in the opening minute of play. The Titans tied the game at 7-7 and then managed to take a 12-10 lead after a bucket by Andrew Bithell. The last 2:29 of the frame the Panthers used an 8-2 run, capped with a trey by Diehl, to lead 18-14.
Northern Bedford always had an answer whenever Tussey Mountain came too close on the scoreboard. The Panthers scored the first eight points of the second quarter. A couple of 3-pointers by Mitchell helped the Titans come back within seven, but another 8-0 run by Northern made the score 37-22. Tussey trailed 39-27 at halftime.
"We shot well in the first half. In the second half we went cold a little bit but used our size to our advantage and got rebounds and second shots," Free said.
Tussey Mountain continued to remain in striking distance during the third quarter. The deficit stood at six points a couple of times and down to five with 1:10 left in the stanza. Entering the final period, the Panthers led 54-49.
In the fourth, Northern slowly extended its lead and made free throws to hold off the Titans. The Panthers hit 10 of 12 foul shots in the fourth and 16 of 21 for the game. Midway through the period Ryan Leonard followed his own shot to grab a rebound and score to put the Titans down 58-52. Tussey trailed by seven with two minutes to go, but a 6-0 run by the Panthers put the game away.
"I felt if our big three outscored their big three, and it came down to role players and our role players stepped up," Free said.
Tussey Mountain faces another tough test at Tyrone tonight at 7:30 p.m. Northern Bedford hosts Chestnut Ridge Monday.
NORTHERN BEDFORD (71): Cherry 2 0-0 4; Snyder 4 6-7 17; Oswalt 1 0-0 2; Diehl 6 6-8 21; Dasher 0 1-2 1; Zimmerman 2 0-0 4; Over 8 3-4 20; Petrou 1 0-0 2. Totals: 24 16-21 71.
TUSSEY MOUNTAIN (59): Sitch 0 0-0 0; Kline 1 2-2 4; Leonard 1 0-0 2; Cornelius 1 1-2 4; Mitchell 4 5-6 17; Black 2 0-0 6; Chadwick 0 0-0 0; Bithell 3 3-4 9; Zelanko 7 3-4 17. Totals: 19 14-18 59.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Northern Bedford18 21 15 17 - 71
Tussey Mountain14 13 22 10 - 59
3-point goals: Northern Bedford: Snyder 3, Diehl 3, Over 1. Tussey Mountain: Mitchell 4, Black 2.
JV: Tussey Mountain, 48-30.