Career-high by McKenna keys Lady Eagles victory over Williamsburg

One way of looking at the Tyrone Lady Eagles\’ 67-52 non-conference victory last night over Williamsburg is to say that they\’re playing as well as they\’ve played all season.
Another way is to say that the 15-point win – their third in a row and fourth in the last five games – has them on a roll like unlike any they\’ve been on in the last three seasons. And while three of the Lady Eagles\’ last four victories came at the expense of programs whose basketball reputations are mildly suspect, last night\’s opponent was no cupcake. The Lady Blue Pirates entered the game 8-4 near the top of the Juniata Valley League standings and hoping to better its position for the District 6-A playoffs.
But playing up to a higher level of competition was only one of the things that made the Lady Eagles\’ pull-away victory at Tyrone Area High School significant. More so was Tyrone\’s ever-growing penchant for scoring points – a serious concern as recently as the Christmas break. The final tally of 67 was Tyrone\’s second highest output this season – topped only by the 71 dropped on Philipsburg-Osceola last Friday – and it gave the Lady Eagles three consecutive games with scoring totals significantly above their 48-point average.
As important was the Lady Eagles\’ increased intensity in the things it has continually done well this season – defense and rebounding. While improving on the offensive end of the floor, Tyrone still managed to force more turnovers than it committed and dominate the boards. The Lady Eagles held a 29-12 advantage on the glass, allowing zero offensive rebounds.
“We\’re up over .500, so that\’s big,” said Tyrone coach Jim Swaney, whose team improved to 7-6 with the second cycle of MAC Section II games set to start Friday at Bald Eagle Area. “With that said, we\’re still a work in progress, and we\’ve got to keep getting better. We\’re working hard to make a case for us to try to get into the District 6 playoffs.”
Senior point guard Emily McKenna has been at the forefront of the Lady Eagles\’ emergence, averaging 18.4 points per game over the last five, and she stayed hot against Williamsburg with a career-high 27 points. Her four three-pointers gave her 19 in the last five games and left her 108 points shy of the 1,000-point mark for her career.
However, with McKenna\’s scoring touch remaining consistent throughout the first 12 games, the major difference in Tyrone\’s offensive production has come from a shift in the starting lineup that moved junior Liz Tepsic from sixth-man to starting post, while senior Tiffany Bradford has become the first player off Swaney\’s bench. Last night, Tepsic scored 10 points and pulled down 10 rebounds – giving her three double-figure scoring games in her three starts – while Bradford added 12 points in her second game back from a shoulder separation.
“Tiffany gave us a real boost tonight coming off the bench,” said Swaney. “Liz is just playing really well for a kid who has only started a couple of games. And this was probably McKenna\’s most complete game of the year against a really good opponent. She looked like one of the five best players in Blair County, which I\’ve always said she had a chance to be.”
Senior Marissa Hoover chipped in eight points and eight rebounds, while junior Stefani Bryan came off the bench to net seven.
The Lady Eagles trailed Williamsburg 10-6 midway through the first quarter and had difficulty defending the Lady Pirates\’ dribble penetration for most of the first half. Danielle Peck, Brooke Zimmerman and Kara Yeager took turns driving the lane and getting layups in traffic or foul shot attempts, leading Williamsburg to an 18-15 lead.
But McKenna hit from three-point range three times in the second quarter, giving Tyrone a 32-26 edge with 39.5 second left in the half before Zimmerman scored four unanswered points in the last half-minute – including a layup off a Lady Eagles turnover with two seconds left in the half – to cut the lead to 32-30.
Tyrone took control in the third quarter with a 9-2 run sparked by a pair of baskets by Hoover, who scored six in the period. McKenna used a Bradford screen with two seconds left to score on a lay-in and the Lady Eagles had their biggest lead, 48-38, heading into the fourth quarter.
McKenna and Bradford each netted five in the final period as Tyrone built a lead that reached as many as 19 points.
The trio of Yeager, Zimmerman and Peck, which accounted for 26 of Williamsburg\’s 30 first-half points, managed only one basket in the third quarter and 11 points total in the second half.
Peck led Williamsburg with 17, while Zimmerman scored 15.
“Their game is to penetrate and spread you out and either shoot threes or penetrate for layups,” said Swaney. “The first half, we were overly concerned with the three-point ball, so we were trying to overplay everything on the outside, and we were allowing penetration. The second half, we decided if your man didn\’t have the basketball, we were going to jam the lane and make you kick it out, and then just recover to shooters.”
Like most of the decisions the Lady Eagles have made lately, the in-game adjustment paid major dividends. Now, Swaney would like to see the Lady Eagles handle Friday\’s game against Bald Eagle – a team Tyrone beat by 27 in December – the way a senior dominated team should before beginning the most significant portion of its schedule next week – a stretch of two weeks when the Lady Eagles face the MAC\’s top four teams, with three of those games at home.
“We laid a huge egg (at BEA) last year,” said Swaney. “So, it\’s going to be interesting to see our leadership on this team. A year later, how do we handle this trip? If we can win, it makes next week very interesting.”
GAME NOTES: McKenna\’s previous career-high was 23 against Bald Eagle Area last February … Tyrone is 5-0 this season when scoring 50 points or more … the Lady Eagles\’ loss at the hands of BEA last season came January 11 in a 43-42 debacle where Tyrone fouled a shooter with no time remaining after trailing by as many as eight in the fourth quarter.
Tyrone\’s jayvees won their third consecutive game with a 46-30 rout of the Lady Pirates.
Megan Turiano led a balanced attack with 13 points, while Sarah Halter, Kayla Corle and Brooke Garbinsky each added seven.
Tyrone 67 Williamsburg 52
WILLIAMSBURG – Yeager 3 3-4 9; A. Speacht 2 0-0 4; L. Speacht 0 1-2 1; Mingle 1 2-4 4; Peck 6 4-5 17; Wyland 1 0-0 2; Zimmerman 6 3-4 15. TOTALS: 19 13-19 52
TYRONE – McKenna 9 5-6 27; Lloyd 0 1-2 1; Ingle 0 2-4 2; Hoover 4 0-1 8; Tepsic 4 2-4 10; Bryan 2 2-4 7; Bradford 4 4-6 12; Turiano 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 23 16-27 67
Score by Quarters
WILLIAMSBURG 18 12 8 14 – 52
TYRONE 15 17 16 19 – 67
Three-point goals: Williamsburg 1 (Peck).
Tyrone 5 (McKenna 4, Bryan).
Junior Varsity
Tyrone 46 Williamsburg 30
WILLIAMSBURG – Rhodes 3 2-2 9; Fay 2 0-0 4; Mingle 0 1-2 1; Saltsgiver 2 0-0 4; Harker2 3-4 7; Wyland 2 0-0 5; A. Speacht 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 11 6-8 30
TYRONE – Christine 0 2-2 2; Turiano 5 1-2 13; Corle 2 1-2 7; Garbinsky 2 2-2 7; Cox 0 0-0 0; Faretta 2 0-2 4; Bryan 2 1-3 6; Halter 3 1-2 7. TOTALS: 16 8-15 46
Score by Quarters
WILLIAMSBURG 11 3 11 5 – 30
TYRONE 17 10 12 7 – 46
Three-point goals: Williamsburg 2 (Wyland, Peck).
Tyrone 6 (Turiano 2, Corle 2, Garbinsky, Bryan).