Rusty Tussey moves to final

SAXTON – Tussey Mountain coach Todd Gates said that at this point in the season, “you live to play one more day.”

That’s exactly what the Lady Titans did against visiting Windber in a District 5-AA semifinal game Thursday. Great defense made up for the lack of success on offense, and Tussey Mountain downed the Ramblers, 40-19.

It had been 10 days since the Titans (22-1) last played. Gates feared his team could be rusty, and it was. Tussey shot 41 percent, and was 13-of-36 (36 percent) in the paint.

“We were afraid we were going to come out rusty, but we said hopefully our defense keeps us in it,” Gates said.

“We missed way too many layups. We did what we wanted to do and got the shots we wanted. We just couldn’t convert. Thankfully, our defense played well. Everybody on defense did a nice job.”

Morgan Lynn led the Titans with 14 points and nine rebounds. Paige Reed scored seven points but had nine blocked shots and three steals. Breanna Kendrick netted 10 points.

Kaitlyn Weaver scored seven of her nine points for the Ramblers (11-12) in the first quarter.

The Titans return to the District 5 Class AA championship game Tuesday at the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown at 6 p.m on a 14-game winning streak. Their opponent will be North Star, which Tussey lost to 44-35 in last year’s final.

The whole game felt like the action crawled because both teams were doing so little scoring.

It was Windber with a 4-1 lead 2 minutes into the contest. A driving basket by Kendrick ended the opening period with the Titans in front 10-9.

Tussey Mountain looked to press after a made basket, but there weren’t very many of those for the team to use the press. In the second quarter, the Ramblers did have to work their way up court. There was only one bucket for nearly 4 minutes of the second quarter.

Three points by Jen Nihoff, that spanned 1:30, had Windber down, 14-12. Reed hit a 3-pointer, and four points by Lynn put Tussey Mountain ahead 21-12 at halftime.

Sam Coffman, Courtney Rupert and Reed scored the first six points of the third quarter for the Titans. Tussey Mountain was unable to stretch the advantage and led, 31-19, after three.

The Titan defense really showed in the final period as it held the Ramblers scoreless. Tussey Mountain spent a lot of time holding the ball out front, forcing Windber to come out and go for steals.

WINDBER (19): Weaver 4 1-2 9; Lampel 0 1-4 1; Vasas 0 0-0 0; Pcola 1 0-0 2; Ponczek 1 0-0 2; Wentz 1 0-0 2; Nihoff 1 1-2 3. Totals: 8 3-8 19.

TUSSEY MOUNTAIN (40): Reed 3 0-0 7; Coffman 2 0-0 4; Lynn 6 2-5 14; Kendrick 5 0-0 10; Rupert 2 0-0 5; Stoudnour 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 2-5 40.

Score by quarters

Windber9 3 7 0 – 19

Tussey Mountain10 11 10 9 – 40

3-point goals: Windber: None. Tussey Mountain: Reed 1, Kendrick 1.

Records: Windber (11-12), Tussey Mountain (22-1).