Golden Eagles Prepared for 2002-03 Basketball Season

After a great season that saw the Golden Eagle Varsity Basketball team just miss the District Six title, this year’s version seems ready to take the next step.
“Our preseason work has gone well,” commented Tyrone head coach Mike Harris on this year’s team. “We’re focused.”
That focused group of players will include three seniors, all of whom are returning lettermen. 5-10 point guard Mike Aschroft, 5-11 forward Dan Grazier, and 6-1 guard Tyler Mertiff will all be looking to lead their team to a successful year. Mertiff, who was named to the Altoona Mirror all-star first team last season, will be the focal point of the Eagle offense, as well as an emotional leader in the locker room.
Aiding these three seniors will be the Eagles’ other returning letterwinner, 6-5 junior Brady Hoover. After teaming up underneath with Dave Rizzo last season, Hoover will be counted on to be a force on both sides of the ball.
Rizzo won’t be the only player missed from last season’s playoff team. Josh Miller and Chris Woomer were both lost to graduation, and each came off the bench dropping bombs from behind the three-point line.
The Golden Eagles will be counting not only on their experienced starters, but a slew of underclassmen as well. Outside of Hoover, Tyrone has six juniors on the roster, along with nine sophomores and one freshman.
Although young, the Golden Eagles will be collectively driven to go past the bar of achievement that was set high last season. That team went 17-11, and advanced to the District Six title game where they were defeated by Bishop Guilfoyle 51-63.
Tyrone was not finished, as they put away a powerful Wilkensburg team 66-54 despite facing elimination. The Golden Eagles’ season came to an end on the wrong side of a 49-74 contest against Sto-Rox, but they had already paved the way for this year.
“Losing in the District Championship game last year put a sour taste in everyone’s mouth” stated Coach Harris.
Mertiff agreed. “We want that District Six title real bad after getting there and losing. We want the people around the area to give our team credit for being a good team, not just being lucky about the late run we went on last year.”
That late run got Tyrone into the playoffs after a shaky performance in December and January. If this year’s Eagles can produce a consistent season, they will be well on their way to furthering last year’s success.
But first thing’s first, and that is the opener against Bellwood-Antis. Tyrone opened last season with a 65-58 win over the Blue Devils, and will hope to duplicate those results Friday when they host Bellwood-Antis. Other games to watch on Tyrone’s Mountain Conference schedule will include Indian Valley on December 13th and January 24th, as well as Lewistown on December 18th and January 28th.
“Indian Valley will be really good,” said Harris when asked about this year’s schedule. “Indian Valley is the team to beat this year. Bellwood will be a big game too. We’re looking forward to a successful year.”
The campaign starts this Friday at Tyrone Area High School. Game time is 6:00 for Junior Varsity, and 7:30 for the Varsity.