Balance helps Tyrone to title
TYRONE — On balance, Tyrone enjoyed a very satisfactory performance in capturing the boys championship game in the Reliance Bank Northern Kiwanis Basketball Tournament Friday night at the Tyrone Area Senior High School gymnasium.
The Golden Eagles placed four players in double figures — including a team-high 18 points from senior forward Parker Mitchell, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player — en route to a 59-46 victory over archrival Bellwood-Antis.
Freshman Blaine Hoover had a big game with 13 points off the bench, while all-tournament selection Jacob Meredith and Dylan Thomas contributed 10 points apiece for Tyrone, which improved to 6-2.
Junior forward Andrew Ferguson scored all eight of his points in the third quarter, which Tyrone carried, 17-7 to gain some separation and a 44-32 lead entering the fourth period.
“Playing Bellwood, we knew it would be a hotly-contested battle — a knock-down, drag’em-out fight,” Tyrone coach George Gripp said. “We had multiple guys step up and make plays for us tonight, and we had four guys in double figures. As a coach, you like to see that.”
Tyrone led by only two points, 27-25 at intermission, but the tide turned in the third quarter, when the Golden Eagles used their pressure defense to force steals and gain the upper hand.
After Bellwood tied the game on a bucket by senior Clay Engle and went ahead, 29-27 on a putback by junior forward Nathan Wolfe, Tyrone went on a 17-1 run to take control.
A Thomas field goal tied the score, and when he was fouled on the play, he converted the 3-point shot to put Tyrone ahead to stay, 30-29.
Ferguson drained a 3-pointer from the left side, then converted a steal into a layup to give Tyrone a 35-29 lead.
After Bellwood made a free throw, Tyrone reeled off the next nine points to go ahead, 44-30. Three free throws from Ferguson sandwiched around a pair of foul shots from Thomas made it a 40-30 game, before Meredith hit two free throws and Thomas made a layup after a Meredith steal to close the rally.
“We came out with confidence in the third quarter and got it done,” said Ferguson, who pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.
Mitchell felt that Tyrone got some high-percentage shots during the uprising.
“We started out slow, and we knew we weren’t playing to our full potential,” Mitchell said. “You know that playing Bellwood is always going to be a dog fight, and we were just trying to take the ball to the hole and not settle for outside shots, like we did in the first half.”
Bellwood (5-2) played most of the third quarter without senior standout Trent Walker, who was issued his third foul early in the period.
“We tried to get through the third quarter without him, but by that time, (Tyrone) had a 10 or 12-point lead,” Bellwood coach Kevin Conlon said of Walker’s absence. “Tyrone has some good athletes, and they make you work for every pass when they’re on defense. They did a good job of creating turnovers.”
Tyrone also took nine free throws in the third quarter, and made good on eight of them.
“The big thing is that we put them on the foul line in the third quarter, and that helped them gain separation from us,” Conlon said.
Tyrone plays several freshmen, and Hoover, a ninth-grader, came up big with 10 points in the second quarter.
“We have a great group of freshmen, and tonight was Blaine’s turn to chip in,” Gripp said. “In the third quarter, we challenged our guys to pick it up on defense, we got some steals, and our offense looked crisper.”
Wolfe had 15 points and eight rebounds for Bellwood, while Engle scored 13 points and also collected eight rebounds.
In the seven-year history of the tournament, Tyrone has now won three boys team titles, while Bellwood has won two.
“It’s always nice to win your own tournament,” Gripp said. “Going into this game, we had won twice and Bellwood had won twice. One team was going to get a third championship tonight, and I’m just happy that it was us.
“This was a good, hard-fought win — the way a championship game should be,” Gripp said.
Game notes: Along with Mitchell’s selection as the tournament’s MVP and Meredith’s selection to the all-tournament team, other all-tourney selections were Bellwood-Antis’ Walker and Engle, Tussey Mountain’s Devin Swope, and Penn Cambria’s Mason Ronan … Bellwood visits Penns Valley Wednesday night, while Tyrone swings back into action next Friday at Clearfield.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS (46): Walker 4 1-2 9, Engle 5 3-5 13, Wyland 0 0-1 0, Wolfe 5 5-5 15, Worthing 2 0-0 5, Showalter 0 1-2 1, Yingling 1 0-0 3, Aiken 0 0-0 0. Totals — 17 10-15 46.
TYRONE (59): Mitchell 6 5-5 18, Gripp 0 0-0 0, Thomas 3 4-5 10, Meredith 3 3-4 10, Ferguson 2 3-4 8, Politza 0 0-0 0, Lucas 0 0-0 0, Hoover 5 1-2 13. Totals — 19 16-20 59.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bellwood-Antis 12 13 7 14 — 46
Tyrone 15 12 17 15 — 59
3-point goals: Tyrone 5 (Mitchell, Meredith, Ferguson, Hoover 2); Bellwood-Antis 2 (Worthing, Yingling).
Records: Bellwood-Antis (5-2); Tyrone (6-2).
Officials: Rich Gergely, Scott Johnson, Mike Conron