Jim Swaney is as media savvy a coach as you will find in Central Pennsylvania.
Not only is he a strong and effective communicator, but he also understands concepts like spin and sound bites, making him an entertaining interview during some of the more grinding stretches of 25-game basketball seasons.
But even he was at a loss for words when contemplating the Tyrone Lady Eagles\’ offensive funk in the second half last night against Bald Eagle Area in Wingate.
It was as ugly as it gets, with Tyrone making just 12 percent of its shots, while missing seven foul shots and committing eight turnovers. And while it wasn\’t enough to cost the Lady Eagles a victory – they picked up their fourth consecutive win 36-22 – it certainly wasn\’t the effort Swaney was expecting after his team had jumped to a 17-point halftime lead.
“That second half, I thought I was in the Twilight Zone,” Swaney said. “The strange thing is, we talked all day at practice yesterday that once we would get them to play us man-to-man, it would be over. Then in the second half, we got them to do exactly what we wanted, and we didn\’t capitalize.”
BEA made the switch after senior Emily McKenna shredded its 2-1-2 zone in the first half, dropping in three three-point baskets as the Lady Eagles built a 22-5 advantage. But the Lady Eagles missed their first eight shots of the third quarter, partly because they were hurrying their offense and partly because they simply shot poorly.
“We didn\’t score a field goal in the fourth quarter,” Swaney said. “Eleven field goals isn\’t going to get it done – especially with just three field goals in the second half.”
But there was silver lining. While their shooting accuracy was at its lowest since before Christmas, the Lady Eagles still managed to win a road game against a team that is traditionally strong at home in a situation where many Tyrone teams in the past have collapsed. Bald Eagle began the second half on an 8-0 run, and eventually cut Tyrone\’s lead to nine eight points (29-21) with 3:30 left in the game.
Despite going 0-for-8 from the field in the final period, the Lady Eagles went 7-for-10 from the foul line in the last 3:07 to hold Bald Eagle at bay.
“Everybody has to keep things in perspective,” said Swaney. “We didn\’t play a very good offensive second half, but keep in mind that this is a team and a place that took Bishop Guilfoyle to overtime last week. It\’s a very tough place to play and a very tough place to win.”
The Lady Eagles finished the game 10-for-43 from the floor (23 percent), slightly better than BEA\’s 8-for-37 (21 percent). The 36-point total was Tyrone\’s lowest since scoring 34 against Indian Valley December 23 and a far cry from the heavy increase in scoring the Lady Eagles had grown accustomed to over the last three games.
However, the 22 points Tyrone surrendered was its best defensive effort of the season, and the victory allowed the Lady Eagles to open to second cycle of MAC Section II play 1-0.
Now 8-6 overall, Tyrone has won five of its last six games
McKenna led the Lady Eagles with a game-high 21 points, giving her back-to-back games with over 20 points. She scored 13 in the first half when Tyrone limited BEA to just 2-of-17 shooting while forcing 12 turnovers.
“We played a very good defensive game the entire game,” Swaney said. “We won the game in the first half with our defensive pressure.”
But McKenna, along with all of the Lady Eagles, went bitterly cold in the second half. After BEA\’s scoring streak to start the third quarter, it took Tyrone more than five minutes to make a shot, with Liz Tepsic converting a layup at the 2:35 mark.
After Bald Eagle trimmed the lead to 29-21 late, McKenna and Emily Lloyd went to the free throw line on consecutive possessions, making all four shots to reestablish a double-digit lead and take most of the fight out of BEA.
GAME NOTES: For the first time since playing Richland on December 30, Tyrone failed to win the battle of the boards. BEA and the Lady Eagles each grabbed 24 rebounds … Tepsic and Tiffany Bradford led Tyrone on the glass with six rebounds each … the Lady Eagles best defensive performance before last night was one week ago when they limited Philipsburg-Osceola to 27 points … Tyrone has now held four teams below 30 points … the Lady Eagles face Bishop Guilfoyle at home Wednesday.
Brooke Garbinsky nailed six three-point baskets as part of a game-high 23-point outburst to lead Tyrone over BEA 45-31 in the junior varsity game.
Lindsay Christine (6) and Megan Turiano (7) aided in the scoring effort for the Lady Eagles, who outscored Bald Eagle 14-4 in the fourth quarter.
Tyrone 36 Bald Eagle Area 22
TYRONE – McKenna 5 8-12 21; Lloyd 0 2-2 2; Ingle 0 0-0 0; Hoover 0 0-0 0; Tepsic 2 1-2 5; Bryan 2 0-0 4; Bradford 2 0-4 4. TOTALS: 11 11-21 36
BALD EAGLE AREA – A. Reese 1 2-2 4; Weaver 1 0-0 2; Hoover 0 0-0 0; Mann 2 0-0 4; Garner 2 2-7 6; Doran 2 0-1 4; Kilmer 1 0-0 2; D. Reese 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 9 4-10 22
Score by Quarters
TYRONE 15 7 6 8 – 36
BALD EAGLE 3 2 10 7 – 22
Three-point goals: Tyrone 3 (McKenna 3)
Tyrone 45 Bald Eagle Area 31
TYRONE – Christine 2 1-2 6; Turiano 2 3-4 7; Corle 0 3-4 3; Garbinsky 8 1-2 23; Faretta 0 2-6 2; Halter 0 0-0 0; Cox 0 0-0 0; Bryan 1 2-4 4. TOTALS: 13 12-22 45
BALD EAGLE AREA – Simpson 5 0-0 12; Rougeux 1 0-0 2; Hoover 1 3-4 5; Kristofik 3 3-4 9; D. Reese 0 1-2 1; Sprankle 0 0-2 0; Granite 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 11 7-12 31
Score by Quarters
TYRONE 14 9 8 14 – 45
BALD EAGLE 9 6 12 4 – 31
Three-point goals: Tyrone 7 (Garbinsky 6, Christine),
Bald Eagle Area 2 (Simpson 2)