Golden Eagles rally to beat Central Tyrone to face Penn Cambria for third time

After beating the Scarlet Dragons when the two teams met back in January, the Golden Eagles hoped to replicate the win in their first round playoff game. Tyrone came back late to win the first game, and they did the same Friday night to defeat Central 54-45.
“One of our sayings is the harder you work the harder it is to surrender,” commented Tyrone head coach Mike Harris. “We work hard in the summer, we work hard in the pre-season, we practice real hard, and that shows in a game like this.”
Both teams’ stars got rolling early, with Darren Horton kicking off the scoring in favor of Central. Tyler Mertiff followed, taking a long rebound to the other end of the court for a layup. Brady Hoover scored next to put Tyrone ahead, and it looked as though the game would be a battle between the stars.
This would not be the case, as Horton would pick up three fouls in the first quarter, sending him to the bench until after halftime. Horton finished the game with only two points.
Fortunatly for the Dragons, however, the rest of Horton’s teammates were ready to fill his shoes, as Central went on a 9-0 run to take the lead 13-7 at the two minute mark in the first quarter. The Golden Eagles responded with a 6-0 run capped by a Hoover jump shot with 10 seconds remaining, and the first quarter ended in a tie.
Central would make some room for themselves in the second, owning the second half of the quarter with a 10-0 run to close out the half. Ben Miller chalked up six points on the run, while Ty Nevins added his second three of the game.
“The first half I thought we were out of sync,” stated Harris. “Before the game we were talking about taking good quality shots, and we’re coming down and just jacking up three’s.”
Ben Miller finished as the game’s leading scorer with 18 points, while Nevins hit a triplet of three-pointers on his way to a 15 point night.
While the second quarter was a victory for the Scarlet Dragons, the third quarter was all Tyrone. After Miller hit back-to-back buckets to increase Central’s lead to nine, the Golden Eagles struck back with a 12-3 run throughout the remainder of the period. After being held to only three points in the entire first half, Mertiff contributed eight points on the run to help his team tie the game at 32. He began the run on a bucket at the four minute mark, and ended it by driving the baseline for a layup and the tying score.
“I got on them at halftime, and our guys responded,” said Harris of his players’ performance in the third quarter. “We came out and played better defensively. We kept it patient, started moving the ball around more, guys got better shots.”
Mertiff kept the momentum in favor of Tyrone to start the final quarter, sneaking down the baseline in traffic to score and draw a foul. He converted the free throw, and the Golden Eagles had their largest lead since the middle of the first quarter.
After a Nevins field goal the pace slowed, as Hoover traded a score with the Dragons in the next three minutes. Leonard Wilson and Mike Ashcroft paired up to score the next four points in favor of Tyrone, but a Central three pointer kept the game within a basket. The Golden Eagles kept the offense coming, as Kevin Hershberger combined with Wilson to put five straight Tyrone points on the board, which became the first part of a 11-2 run for the Orange and Black. After a pair of successful free throws from Central, Hoover, Wilson and Ben Gummo each added two points to complete the run and increase Tyrone’s lead to ten with under a minute remaining.
Wilson and Gummo’s points on the run came from foul shots, which were part of a 14-15 performance from the line by Tyrone in the final quarter.
“In the first half we didn’t shoot our foul shots well,” stated Harris. We came out and shot 14-15 in the fourth quarter. We work on foul shots everyday in practice, and tonight that helped us out.”
The win is Tyrone’s fourth straight, and the Golden Eagles hope to continue the streak through the playoffs.
“Just keep it rolling,” said Harris of the winning streak. “This is how it started out last year, we got it rolling, had a tough game against Ligonier Valley right off the bat and pulled it out. We’ve got to dig down deep and get focused. We’ve got a tough game coming up against whoever wins between Johnstown and Penn Cambria.”
Penn Cambria defeated Johnstown 56-45, pitting the Panthers against the Golden Eagles for the third time this year. The squads split the two previous games, with the home team winning each game. The game will be Tuesday, with the location not yet determined. Penn Cambria is the top seed in the playoffs, while Tyrone is seeded fifth.
Tyrone 54, Central 45
Score by Quarter
Tyrone – 13 6 13 22 – 54
Central – 13 12 7 13 – 45
Individual Scoring
Tyrone- Mertiff 5 6-7 16, Hoover 4 2-3 10, Ashcroft 1 2-2 4, Gummo 1 2-2 4, Wilson 3 7-10 13, Domenick 0 0-1 0, Hershberger 2 3-6 7. Totals: 15 22-31 54
Central- Horton 1 0-0 2, Nevins 5 3-3 15, Miller 8 2-2 18, Gates 0 0-0 0, Fredrick 1 0-0 2, Snyder 1 0-0 3, K. Kensinger 0 1-2 1, L. Kensinger 1 2-4 4. Totals: 17 8-11 45
3-Point Field Goals Central: 4 (Nevins 3, Snyder 1).