Berlin knocks off Tussey Mtn. girls

NEW PARIS — Tussey Mountain High School girls basketball coach Todd Gates knew that his team faced a very tall order Tuesday night in its District 5 Class 1A semifinal game with Berlin Brothersvalley.

Berlin, the defending District 5 Class 1A champion, brought size and athletic ability to the table, led by 6-foot-1 standout junior forward Kiera Booth.

“We knew coming in that we would have to play a perfect game and have some breaks go our way,” Gates said.

That didn’t happen, as Berlin (19-5) led from start to finish and roared to a 60-31 victory at Chestnut Ridge High School’s Richard W. Fisher Gymnasium.

Booth scored a game-high 22 points, senior center Zoie Smith added 14, and junior guard Lexi Yanosky chipped in 13, as Berlin rolled into Saturday’s 4 p.m. championship game at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown against Shanksville-Stonycreek, which defeated Fannett-Metal, 60-26, in Tuesday’s other semifinal.

Tussey Mountain (16-8) will play Fannett-Metal in the District 5 Class 1A consolation game at 1 p.m. Saturday at UPJ, with the winner of that third-place game moving on to the state playoffs.

In a 69-47 regular-season loss to Berlin in January, Tussey Mountain operated out of a man-to-man defense, but that didn’t work out too well for the Lady Titans.

On Tuesday night, Gates had his team switch into a zone defense at the beginning of the game, but Berlin foiled that strategy by hitting three early 3-point shots, forcing Tussey back into the man-to-man defense that was overmatched.

“The first time we played them, we couldn’t match up to them in man (-to-man defense),” Gates said. “I thought we’d play a zone at the beginning tonight, but they made their shots, and we had to go back to the man defense.

“We were grasping at straws,” Gates said. “They were just much better than us.”

After a 40-to-45 shot from senior guard Zoe Harding beat the buzzer and banked into the basket to give Berlin a 13-7 edge after one quarter, the momentum turned entirely in favor of the Lady Mountaineers.

“That was exciting,” Berlin Brothersvalley coach Rachel Prosser said of Harding’s heave. “That was the longest pre-buzzer beater shot that I’ve seen.”

Berlin went on to rule the second quarter, 13-3, for a 26-10 halftime lead, and carry the third period, 21-9, to take a 47-19 cushion into the fourth quarter.

Berlin began the second quarter with a nine-point run that gave the Lady Mountaineers a 22-7 lead with 3:15 left in the half.

Yanosky’s 3-pointer from the left corner started the rally, and it was followed by senior forward Maria Engleka’s baseline jumper, two free throws by Booth, and two more by Smith.

Booth had 11 rebounds, Smith eight, and Yanosky seven for Berlin, which exploited its height advantage and grabbed a total of 52 rebounds in the game.

“I’m proud of the girls,” Prosser said. “They played hard, rebounded well, and bought into playing good defense.”

Booth had 11 third-quarter points as Berlin ran away and hid, earning a berth in the district championship game against Shanksville for the third straight year.

Junior guard Lexi Weimert had 12 points to lead Tussey Mountain, which beat Fannett-Metal in both regular-season meetings between the two teams this year.

Tussey will need to win again in the consolation matchup Saturday in order to make the state playoffs out of District 5, which advances three girls teams in Class 1A.

“The good news is that we still get to play another game, and if we win that, we go to the state playoffs,” Gates said. “We beat Fannett-Metal both times that we played them this year, and if we can get into the state playoffs, who knows what will happen?

“Our main goal was to win a district championship,” Gates said. “We’re not going to do that now, and we must make the most of what we have left.”

TUSSEY MOUNTAIN (31): Weimert 5 2-5 12, Brumbaugh 2 1-3 5, Garner 0 0-0 0, Molosky 0 2-2 2, Park 2 1-2 5, Leonard 2 2-3 7, Taylor 0 0-1 0, Weaver 0 0-0 0. Totals — 11 8-16 31.

BERLIN BROTHERSVALLEY (60): Smith 3 8-9 14, Engleka 1 0-0 2, Harding 2 1-2 6, Yanosky 4 3-3 13, Booth 8 6-8 22, DeArmitt 0 1-2 1, Foor 0 2-2 2, Stoltzfus 0 0-0 0, Smith 0 0-0 0, Brick 0 0-0 0, Hay 0 0-0 0, Peck 0 0-0 0, Martz 0 0-0 0, Vangilder 0 0-0 0. Totals — 18 21-26 60.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Tussey Mountain 7 3 9 12 — 31

Berlin Brothersvalley 13 13 21 13 — 60

3-point goals: Tussey Mountain 1 (Leonard); Berlin Brothersvalley 3 (Yanosky 2, Harding).

Records: Tussey Mountain (16-8); Berlin Brothersvalley (19-5).

Officials: Joe Bilka, Ted Oppegard, Tony Rullo.

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