Tyrone senior leads Eagles to victory over Tigers
By Michael Boytim
TYRONE — Hollidaysburg starts five players who can all handle the ball and create their own shot.
It provides an interesting gambling opportunity for the Golden Tigers’ opponents.
Do you match Hollidaysburg’s style or try and punish them for it?
Tyrone coach George Gripp had already lost that gamble once this season when his team fell to the Golden Tigers in its Mountain League opener, but he had faith his big men could be better the second time the teams met on Tuesday.
They were, especially senior Keegan Gwinn, who finished with 23 points and 17 rebounds in Tyrone’s 71-65 victory.
“When you play a team like Hollidaysburg that plays five guards, as the opposing coach, I wrestle with, do I play five guards?” Gripp said. “I didn’t up there, and they hurt us, because our guys were out on the outside trying to guard people. I told them they had to do their best defensively and make them pay when we have the ball. I wanted to pound it down low against Hollidaysburg and use our size to our advantage, and I thought we did that.”
Gwinn scored 13 of his points and brought in most of his rebounds in the second half, and he also found fellow forward Ross Gampe for a couple key baskets late on quick passes.
“He was lights out. He was incredible tonight,” Hollidaysburg coach Brad Lear said. “I’m sure he challenged himself, and I told him coming off the court it was a great performance. He’s a great player. I don’t know him personally, but he seems like a pretty great kid. Rebounding, a couple blocked shots, had a steal, made his free throws and even knocked down a mid-range shot. He was a bully under the basket. Hat’s off to him.”
Gwinn has played a major role for the new-look Golden Eagles this year. Despite losing many of the players who helped them secure the top seed in the District 6 Class 4A playoffs a season ago, Tyrone is 11-2 and is now coming off wins over the two top rated teams in Class 5A (Bellefonte and Hollidaysburg).
“He’s been such a pleasant surprise this year,” Gripp said. “Between the years, he’s been one of the smartest basketball players I have ever coached. He knows hat’s going on out there. He knows where to look to attack. He threw a lot of nice passes to Ross down low. When we seemed to need a key rebound or a key putback, he got it. I thought he played outstanding.”
Tyrone trailed by eight at the half but came out of the locker room with much more defensive intensity in the third quarter.
“We came in pretty down and decided that we needed to turn it around,” Gwinn said. “Everyone came out pretty excited for the second half. We are all committed to this team, and we focused to turn it around. This was a big game, because we lost up there in a heartbreaker. It felt really good to come out tonight and win against them.”
Hollidaysburg managed just seven points in the third quarter and entered the fourth down by two.
“We controlled the game in the first half and were able to weather (Gwinn) scoring, which is what we wanted,” Lear said. “Then in that third quarter, our shots weren’t falling, and he was still making his. That was a big difference in the game, and that comes with experience.”
The Golden Tigers got a balanced scoring effort with at least four points from all seven players who got into the game. Carson Rhodes led Hollidaysburg with 18 points, and Cole Walters added 16 points.
Hollidaysburg had taken control of the game in the first half with a 17-0 run, but after scoring the first basket of the third quarter, the Golden Tigers managed just five points in the final seven minutes.
“We talked as staff that in some of these games we have a kid that has struggled a little bit who sky rockets to the top,” Lear said. “Then we’ll have someone that’s been pretty steady kind of falter, and we just said these games are going to help us. We know we’re young, but these kids have grown up so much. I made a comment to them in practice that they all have a half of a season under their belt now. We had two easy finishes at the rim in the third quarter, and (Jake) Hileman had an open 3-pointer that rimmed out, and on all three of those possessions, Tyrone scored. That was a big turning point in the game.”
Cortlynd Rhoades scored 17 points, and Landen DeHaas added 15 points for the Golden Eagles, but Gripp knows this year’s version of his team will need to lean on defense in the postseason.
“I still think we have a long way to go on the defensive end,” Gripp said. “We have too many defensive breakdowns. That’s going to come back and haunt us in a big game. I have already lived that, and I certainly don’t want to again. That’s something we work on in practice — staying focused for all four quarters. If we can do that, I think we’re going to be a tough out come playoff time.”
HOLLIDAYSBURG (65): Goodman 2 0-0 4, Rhodes 7 4-5 18, Hileman 4 0-4 8, McGinnis 2 4-6 9, Walters 5 2-2 16, Holsopple 2 0-0 4, Steiner 2 0-0 6. Totals — 24 10-17 65.
TYRONE (71): Lang 3 2-2 8, Rhoades 6 3-4 17, DeHaas 6 2-3 15, Gampe 3 0-0 6, Gwinn 8 7-9 23, LeGars 0 0-0 0, Johnson 1 0-0 2. Totals — 27 14-18 71.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Hollidaysburg 19 18 7 21 — 65
Tyrone 11 18 17 25 — 71
3-point goals: Hollidaysburg 7 (Walters 4, Steiner 2, McGinnis); Tyrone 3 (Rhoades 2, DeHaas).
Records: Hollidaysburg (7-7); Tyrone (11-2).
Officials: Ray Hoppel, Derek Jones, Steve Schaaf.
JV: Tyrone, 45-33. High scorers–Keith Dinkins, H, 13; Crilly/Escala, T, 12 each.