Golden Eagles fall to Huntingdon despite fourth-quarter effort by Mertiff

After nailing down five victories in as many games, the Tyrone boy’s basketball team traveled to Huntingdon, hoping to knock off the Bearcats and extend their winning streak. The Bearcats had other plans, using a 44 point second half to upset the Golden Eagles.
“We just didn’t execute out there,” said Tyrone Head Coach Mike Harris after the loss. “We weren’t into the game, we weren’t ready to play.”
The first quarter looked good for Tyrone, however, as the Golden Eagles were ahead by one after the game’s first eight minutes. The Bearcats held a 6-2 advantage three minutes into the game, but consecutive field goals by Tyler Mertiff pushed the Eagles into the lead. The two squads each managed four more points in the final two minutes of the quarter, with Ben Gummo regaining the Tyrone lead by hitting a jumper with 15 seconds remaining.
The Eagles kept rolling into the second quarter, outscoring the Bearcats 7-2 in the first four minutes. But down six with 3:11 left in the half, Huntingdon turned the tide of the game. It was here that Dusty Border hit consecutive baskets for the Bearcats, putting his team ahead by one and igniting an 11-2 run in the waning minutes of the first half. After the barrage of Bearcat points, the Golden Eagles went into the locker room down three.
“(Geoff) Kozak was out of the game almost the entire first half,” commented Harris on Huntingdon’s success in the second quarter. “He’s their best player, and we get outscored 13 to 9 in the second quarter. We can’t have that. We have to be able to put teams in trouble when their best player is out.”
The Golden Eagles came out of the locker room swinging, with Brady Hoover opening the second half scoring after sitting out most of the first half with foul trouble. After Mike Ashcroft drilled a deep two to regain the lead for Tyrone, the Bearcats responded with a 9-2 run that gave them their biggest lead of the night. Hoover and Ashcroft hit back-to-back baskets to keep Tyrone within reach, but Huntingdon came up with a 12-2 run and a Kozak three pointer to secure a ten point lead heading into the final period.
Despite the double digit deficit and an upset-minded Bearcat squad, the Golden Eagles were able to claw their way back. Mertiff stepped up big for Tyrone, scoring the first seven points of the quarter to bring his team within three. Mertiff’s scoring pace remained steady throughout the final quarter, as the senior standout tallied 20 of his game-high 34 points in the final quarter alone.
“Tyler plays his heart out every game, but he can’t do it all,” commented Harris on the Eagle captain’s performance.
Although Mertiff was churning out points relentlessly in the final quarter, the Bearcats were able to score at all the right times to stay barely in front of the Golden Eagles. Kozak scored eight points in the final period to keep his team ahead.
“They’re scrappy, they play hard, they’re playing really well,” stated Harris on the Bearcats. “They played really good man-to-man defense. Our guys just didn’t rise to the challenge offensively.”
Harris and his Eagles will be looking to move on after the tough loss to the Bearcats, as Tyrone hits the road again Friday against Indian Valley.
“That’s a huge game for us,” said Harris of the upcoming contest. “Now we have to win out in the Mountain League to win the League, we have to beat everybody. I hope the guys are focused tomorrow at practice and ready to go. We have one day and then we have to get after it on Friday.”
The Golden Eagles fall to 9-6 with the loss, while the Bearcats up their record to 5-11.
The Tyrone junior varsity team had more success in their contest with the Bearcats, raising their record to 13-1 with a 46-35 victory. Kevin Hershberger led the way for Tyrone with 11 points, while Adam Hoover chipped in nine. Nick Kocik led all scorers, contributing 12 points for the Bearcats while teammate Jason Shuck added seven. The Golden Eagle jayvees showed their diversity as well, as 12 players scored in the contest.
Huntingdon 67 Tyrone 64
TYRONE- Mertiff 12 4-5 34, B. Hoover 4 0-2 8, Gummo 2 0-0 7, Ashcroft 4 2-3 10, Dominick 0 1-2 1, Grazier 0 0-0 0, A. Hoover 0 0-0 0, Wilson 0 0-1 0.
HUNTINGDON- Morelli 1 1-2 6, Barclay 1 0-0 2, Young 4 0-0 8, Kozak 5 3-4 16, Stidd 2 2-2 6, Linn 1 0-0 2, Border 1 1-2 6, Reed 5 2-3 15, Waleski 2 2-2 6.
Score by Quarter
Tyrone 11 9 15 28 – 64
Huntingdon 10 13 22 22 – 67
3-Point Field Goals: Tyrone-3 (Mertiff 2, Gummo 1); Huntingdon- 4 (Morelli 1, Kozak 1, Border 1, Reed 1).