DAVIDSVILLE - The Conemaugh Township Indians made the extra pass when they needed it Wednesday in a 67-56 District 5 boys basketball playoff victory over Tussey Mountain.
The defending Class AA champions (19-5) led by as many as 16 in the first half, thanks in part to Jake Formica's 12 points. But they let the Titans hang around by getting into foul trouble.
The sixth-seeded Titans whittled the lead to six with just under a minute to play, but Luke Maurer and Jeff Callihan kept Tussey Mountain at bay with foul shots and a bucket.
"We found the open man at the right time and got an easy bucket when we needed it," Township coach Chuck Lesko said. "But we put them at the foul line entirely too much. Coach Bailey's team is well-coached. They were taught to play hard and attack the rim and make the other team foul you. Our kids did that. They didn't react well and we got into some foul trouble."
Conemaugh Township, the No. 3 seed, led 21-5 after one quarter.
Tussey Mountain cut the lead to 38-27 at the half after draining 12 of 14 free throws in the second quarter.
The Indians bench had to play long stretches, especially in the second half, when three seniors - Austin Speigle, Callihan and Formica - were forced to sit with four fouls apiece. Speigle fouled out with 3:31 remaining in the game.
Tussey (12-10) pulled to within seven, 38-31, early in the third but the Indians regained the lead, 50-37, by the end of the quarter. Callihan scored seven of his team-high 17 points in the frame.
The Titans pulled the game to within 10 points three times in the fourth and got as close as six, 62-65, but didn't have enough gas left to tie it up. They only went to foul line four times in final two quarters - going 4 of 8 from the charity stripe.
"We dug too deep of a hole on the road," Tussey coach Dave Bailey said. "Most of that damage came from Conemaugh Township's offensive rebounding. We are young and a little thin and we get pushed around a bit. I though the officials did a nice job of calling the game - that's why we worked the foul line so much because we were ultra aggressive. We did shoot ourselves by not making some of those foul shots late, but overall I was pleased with our effort."
The Indians out-rebounded the Titans 36-25, with 13 coming on the offensive side. Evan Steeves and Callihan both had 10 rebounds.
Callihan put in two free throws off an offensive rebound in the first half and scored off an offensive rebound in the second half.
Tussey's Michael Mitchell led all-scorers with 20 points. Parker Cornelius added 13 points.
"We had three put backs in the first half and that's something we want to do," Lesko said. "We want five putbacks a game. It can be demoralizing when someone picks up at least one off the offensive boards. That was the difference early on."
Maurer and Formica both contributed 15 points for Conemaugh Township.
TUSSEY MOUNTAIN (56): Kline 3 0-0 6, Cornelius 3 6-8 13, Mitchell 5 6-6 20, Bithell 1 1-2 3, Zelanko 3 3-6 9, Chadwick 1 3-5 5. Totals - 16 19-27 56.
CONEMAUGH TOWNSHIP (67): Wilson 3 0-0 8, Steeves 1 0-1 2, Callihan 6 5-5 17, Formica 6 3-7 15, Speigle 1 0-0 3, Maurer 5 5-6 15, Valentine 1 1-1 3, Stahl 3 0-0 6. Totals: 26 14-21 67.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Tussey Mountain 5 22 10 19 - 56
Conemaugh Township 21 17 12 17 - 67
3-point goals: Tussey Mountain 5 (Mitchell 4, Cornelius 1); Conemaugh Township 3 (Wilson 2, Speigle 1)
Records: Tussey Mountain (12-10); Conemaugh Township (19-5)