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‘D’ sets tone for Eagles

HOLLIDAYSBURG — The outstanding Tyrone Area High School boys basketball team showed Friday night that there is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat.

Or, to win a game.

In rolling to a 14-2 overall record this season, Tyrone has benefited greatly from outstanding 3-point shooting. The Golden Eagles made only one 3 in their non-conference matchup with county rival Hollidaysburg Friday, but converted a ball-hawking defense and stellar running game into several first-half layups to set the tone early.

Tyrone then clamped down on defense and dominated the low blocks on offense in the fourth quarter, limiting Hollidaysburg to just four points while pulling away for a 64-46 victory.

Tyrone made six fast-break layups in the first half, including five off steals, to take a 37-27 halftime lead. The Golden Eagles added three more fast-break layups, two off steals, in the third quarter to build a 53-42 advantage after three quarters.

“In the first half, I thought we played pretty aggressive defense, we ran the court well, and we filled up the lanes,” Tyrone coach George Gripp said. “We got the ball up the floor for some easy transition buckets, but it all starts with that half-court defense.”

Gripp’s son, Damon, a standout senior guard, led all scorers in the game with 26 points, including 19 in the first half, when he used his superior speed to score four fast-break buckets, one after stealing the ball himself and three after getting an outlet feed following a teammate’s steal.

Tyrone bolted out to a 22-11 lead after the first quarter.

“We like to play like that — especially on our presses,” Damon Gripp said. “That creates easy pickings for us, and it was really good that we could get going in the first quarter. That set the tone for the rest of the game.”

Even so, Hollidaysburg (2-7), led by senior forward Rocco Grassi’s 21 points and game-high eight rebounds, did not go quietly.

The Golden Tigers closed a 12-point third-quarter deficit to just seven, 49-42, on a runner by freshman guard Jake Hileman midway through the third period, before Tyrone re-asserted itself behind the inside play of senior forward Brandon Lucas to score the final four points of the third quarter and the first four points of the fourth quarter and take a commanding 57-42 lead.

Lucas, who scored 10 of his 17 points for Tyrone from the final seconds of the third quarter on, made an inside field goal just before the third-quarter buzzer, scored off a putback early in the fourth, and got free on the low block for a one-handed field goal, to put Tyrone firmly back in the driver’s seat.

“Brandon Lucas played a great second half for us,” George Gripp said. “He made some key buckets, and did a fantastic job in the second half.”

Tyrone played very deliberately on offense in the second half of the fourth quarter, slowing the ball down to get high-percentage shots. On the night, Tyrone converted 28 of its 45 floor shots (62 percent).

“We started getting better on defense and rebounding the ball more,” Lucas said of Tyrone’s fourth-quarter effort. “We only took the shots that were open, and we converted them.”

Hollidaysburg coach Brad Lear was pleased with his team’s defensive effort in shutting down Tyrone’s long-distance offense, but felt that the numerous turnovers the Tigers committed in the first three quarters were a tell-tale factor.

“When we had cut their lead in the third quarter, we kind of had them a little out of their game,” Lear said. “They like to make a lot of 3’s, but we had scouted and defensedthat well and held them to just one tonight.

“But they’re just so quick that when you turn the ball over, you create opportunities for them,” Lear added. “We broke their press, but we made a lot of unforced turnovers, and you just can’t create opportunities for them to get easy baskets.”

Tyrone — which hosts Philipsburg-Osceola in a Mountain League game Monday night — is trying to sharpen its game as the District 6 playoffs loom on the very near horizon.

“I think we’re playing pretty well right now,” Damon Gripp said. “We still have to clean up some things, but if we keep working hard at practice, I think those things will just come together.”

Game notes: Hollidaysburg — which hosts Forest Hills Saturday — made 20 of 40 floor shots (50 percent) … Hollidaysburg had a 23-17 edge in rebounds … Hollidaysburg’s two senior cheerleaders, Makayla Smith and Savannah Dodge, were recognized in a pre-game ceremony.

TYRONE (64): Taylor 3 0-0 6, Gripp 12 2-2 26, Hoover 2 0-0 4, Lucas 7 3-5 17, Rhoades 1 0-0 3, DeHaas 3 2-4 8, Lang 0 0-0 0. Totals – 28 7-11 64.

HOLLIDAYSBURG (46): Imoff 1 0-0 2, Kratzer 4 0-0 8, Martellacci 1 0-1 2, Grassi 9 2-2 21, McGinnis 2 2-4 6, Hileman 3 0-1 7, Rhodes 0 0-0 0. Totals – 20 4-8 46.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Tyrone 22 15 16 11 — 64

Hollidaysburg 11 16 15 4 — 46

3-point goals: Tyrone 1 (Rhoades); Hollidaysburg 2 (Grassi, Hileman).

Officials: Dan Gales, Ryan Ehrie, Nick Lancaster.

JV: Tyrone, 62-50. High scorers–Zac Legars, T, 28; Cole Walters, H, 22.

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