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Rhoades leads Tyrone’s rally past Central

TYRONE — Tyrone Area High School sophomore guard Cortlynd Rhoades is comfortable shooting beyond the 3-point arc.

“That’s kinda my role on the team,” Rhoades said Wednesday night. “It’s something that I try to do.”

Rhoades came up huge from 3-point range Wednesday, and as a result, Tyrone punched its ticket into Saturday’s District 6 Class 4A boys basketball championship game.

Rhoades scored a game and season-high 21 points, hitting six 3-pointers — including what proved to be the game-winner with 20 seconds left — as the second-seeded Golden Eagles came from behind to top third-seeded Central, 48-46 in a semifinal game at the Tyrone Area Senior High School gymnasium.

Tyrone faces top-seeded Huntingdon in a matchup of 21-2 teams and Mountain League co-champions in the district championship game Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Mount Aloysius College. Huntingdon advanced with a 75-46 semifinal win over Penn Cambria Wednesday.

Rhoades was deadly from beyond the arc in the fourth period, as Tyrone, trailing for nearly the entire game, overcame a nine-point early fourth-quarter deficit.

Rhoades converted four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, the last from the top of the circle for the decisive shot, after Central had turned the ball over with a 46-45 lead.

“In the first quarter, I wasn’t hitting, but in the second half, I was just feeling good,” said Rhoades, who scored all 21 of his points in the second half. “I just got my confidence.”

Tyrone made 10 3-pointers in the game, including six in the fourth quarter, which the Golden Eagles carried, 20-14 to wipe out a 32-28 deficit after three stops.

“We made 10 3s tonight, and we needed every one of them,” Tyrone coach George Gripp said. “It was a great game. The Central players have a lot of pride, and they played their butts off tonight. I’m just glad that we’re moving on.”

Rhoades was the Eagles’ biggest catalyst.

“He’s been streaky at times this year, but he’s a good shooter,” Gripp said. “When he gets going, we try to feed him the ball. I thought they were a little slow getting out on him, and he was getting some clean looks.”

Central senior forward Braden Kitt, who led the Scarlet Dragons with 17 points and also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, polished off a 3-on-1 break with a layup to give Central a 40-31 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Rhoades answered with two consecutive 3-pointers, both from the left side, to pull Tyrone to within 40-37.

“I was getting good screens,” Rhoades said.

Two straight driving buckets by freshman Eli Lingenfelter staked Central to a 44-37 lead, before Tyrone junior Damon Gripp, who scored 13 points, converted two free throws, and Rhoades hit another 3-pointer from the left side, to pull the Eagles to within 44-42.

Central senior Hunter Klotz, who scored 10 points, cashed in on a feed into the paint to put the Scarlet Dragons up, 46-42, before Damon Gripp drained another trey from the left side with 1:17 remaining to slice Central’s lead to 46-45.

After the Central turnover with 42 seconds left, Tyrone called a timeout, and Rhoades hit his decisive 3-pointer with 20 seconds showing.

Central got one last chance to tie or win, but Kitt’s shot from the top of the circle careened off the back of the rim and into the hands of Tyrone sophomore Landen DeHaas as the buzzer sounded.

The loss was a tough one for the Dragons and their first-year head coach Paul Frederick, who oversaw a 14-9 final record.

“In the third quarter, they were getting some open shots, and they started to fall,” Frederick said of Tyrone. “In the fourth quarter, they shot the ball extremely well (six field goals in 10 attempts). Give them a lot of credit. They made big shots down the stretch when they needed to make them.”

Central lost two regular-season games by decisive margins to Tyrone, but the Dragons came ready to do battle Wednesday.

“They are a wonderful group of kids to coach,” Frederick said. “The (much closer) score tonight is a testament to how hard these kids worked and prepared for this game. I’m excited about what is coming for this team down the road.”

Tyrone will square off against defending district champion Huntingdon in what shapes up as an intriguing championship matchup. The teams split two regular-season meetings.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge,” George Gripp said. “We know it’s going to be a battle, and we’re going to have to have our best effort.”

Game notes: Central made 19 of 37 floor shots, while Tyrone made 14 of 38, but won the 3-point margin, 10-3 … Central outrebounded Tyrone, 22-18.

CENTRAL (46): Eberlin 2 0-0 5, Kitt 8 1-5 17, Boyles 2 1-2 5, Klotz 4 0-0 10, Kling 1 1-1 3, Lingenfelter 2 2-2 6, Liebal 0 0-0 0, Ferry 0 0-0 0, Hoenstine 0 0-0 0. Totals — 19 5-10 46.

TYRONE (48): Rhoades 7 1-1 21, DeHaas 2 2-2 7, Gripp 4 2-4 13, Lucas 0 4-7 4, Hoover 1 1-1 3, Lang 0 0-0 0, Johnson 0 0-0 0. Totals — 14 10-15 48.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Central 6 11 15 14 — 46

Tyrone 5 6 17 20 — 48

3-point goals: Central 3 (Klotz 2, Eberlin); Tyrone 10 (Rhoades 6, Gripp 3, DeHaas).

Records: Central (14-9); Tyrone (21-2).

Officials: Tyler Fink, Joe Hanna, Jordan Forester.

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