Sports Tyrone Daily Herald Archives

Unbelievable finish to a remarkable season, Tyrone falls to North East in second round

Talking it over Tyrone coach George Gripp talks strategy during a timeout at the Tyrone/North East PIAA Second round playoff game at Clarion University on Wednesday evening. The Eagles jumped out in front early, but ultimately fell 50-46 to the once defeated Grape Pickers. (The Daily Herald/Kris Yaniello)

Tyrone came off a great win over Bishop Canevin last Saturday, but that was no phase to the Eagles. They wanted respect and they had a great chance to earn it at Clarion University Wednesday, as they took on the State’s fifth seed, North East.
The teams were very uneven, but the Grape Pickers made up for their size disadvantage with their streaky shooting and great defense. The game was one to remember, but Tyrone fell down the stretch in a heart breaker to North East, 50-46.
Tyrone showed no fear in the first quarter, coming out on a 12-4 run behind eight points from Matt Brooks. It was a momentum swing early on and luckily, Tyrone had the momentum. Both teams came out shaky on offense, however, as Tyrone shot just 5-16 compared to North East’s 3-14.
The score was in favor of Tyrone, 12-7 after one, but the game was far from over.
“For whatever reason, the past three or four games we have started slowly,” North East head coach Thomas Pyle said. “It almost seems like we have to try and figure out what we are doing wrong in the beginning and then make our run throughout the rest of the game. I know that if we continue to get behind early, it will come back to haunt us in the end. Luckily, we hit some shots early enough to give us that lead and momentum back on our side to carry us the rest of the way.”
After a 12-7 Tyrone first quarter, the Eagles were on a high beyond any other as the crowd and momentum were resting high on their shoulders. It was a matter of playing the remaining three quarters like the first to capture the upset of the year.
“Coming into the game North East probably thought they were going to walk all over us,” senior Tyrone guard Brooks stated. “After we got an early lead, I think they realized that this was going to be harder than what they had expected.”
“It was surprising to take the early 12-4 lead,” senior point guard Brandon Gehret stated. “Honestly, I was a little intimidated by the 27-1 record, but after coming out and getting on top, I realized we had a great shot at winning the game.”
However, games like this aren’t meant to be easy. The Grape Pickers carried over a 14-0 run to take an 18-12 lead with 4:51 to go in the half. Michael Rouse was unconscious from everywhere on the floor as he knocked down five of his game high 21 points through the run. The man was on a mission, and it was to destroy Tyrone’s defense.
“We have been playing together since the fourth grade,” said Rouse. “The chemistry between us helps us figure out where we are on the floor at all times and has helped us tremendously against good teams. We may be small, but we play big.”
Tyrone had to stop the bleeding, so they called a timeout which led to an Eagle 5-0 run, cutting the lead to just one point behind a trey from Steve Catich and a baseline jumper from Kyle Updyke.
Ryan Szwejbka answered with a deuce, followed by a steal and lay-up by Matt Triana, putting the Grape Pickers up 22-17 with 2:42 to go. It was a battle out there and both sides had the fan support and teamwork to create the war it became.
Tyrone wasn’t finished as they delivered the final blow in the first half behind a 6-0 run from Nate Dane, Catich and Travis Peterman. The Eagles found themselves on top of the heavily favored North East squad, 23-22 at the break.
“I told these guys before the game that we could hang with North East,” Tyrone head coach George Gripp stated. “We cemented that into their heads, and guys started thinking, ‘Hey coach is right, we can play with these guys.’ We knew it was going to be a nip and tuck battle, and every little mistake was going to be magnified. After the first half we felt we were in a great position to take control of this game.”
After one half of play, Tyrone knew they had their work cut out for them as the Grape Pickers didn’t bring in a 27-1 record for nothing.
North East smacked the Eagles in the mouth in the third quarter behind Rouse, as they outscored Tyrone 16-6. Rouse knocked down six points in the third, but the highlight of the night was Patrick LaFuria’s two-handed throw-down from the short corner. This sent an uproar throughout North East’s crowd, giving them the momentum that they were searching for.
With a 37-29 Grape Picker-lead after three, Tyrone needed one last spark to keep their season alive.
The spark came early with a Dane lay-up and an amazing ‘and-one’ from Catich along the baseline. This set the score at 37-34, edging the Eagles back into the game.
After a bucket from Rouse and a missed Tyrone shot at the other end, the Grape Pickers began to use their quickness and great ball-handling ability to run off two minutes before the Eagles were forced to foul to get the ball back.
Well, they fouled the wrong guy at the wrong time. Rouse, who had already drained 15 points, was sent to the line to shoot one-and-one. Of course, he drilled them and put North East up 41-34 with 4:37 remaining in the game.
The game was still not out of reach, however. Tyrone began to make their run behind a Gehret bomb from just inside the three-point line. Tyrone quickly fouled Triana, but the guard looked as though he may have hurt his ankle as he hobbled the length of the court to the other foul line. He missed on the first opportunity of two, and Tyrone took a swing and connected with an Updyke trey, cutting the score to 41-39. It was pandemonium in Clarion, Pennsylvania as the Eagles fans were out of their seats and were louder than loud can be.
“The adrenaline was pumping through my body,” Brooks said. “I mean, we couldn’t even hear each other so we had to focus closely on what everyone was saying. Hand-signals were basically what we had to use to talk over the big crowd.”
It was definitely loud, and Tyrone had the heavy favorite in a corner, despite trailing by two.
North East had to come out of the stall-ball move by taking a chance to score, but Brooks tipped the ball away from Triana and was fouled immediately after recovering the loose ball. Brooks went to the line where he drilled two clutch free-throws to tie the game at 41 with 3:02 to go.
Tyrone looked to make a couple more stops on defense, but Triana showed he wasn’t completely out of the game as he floated a tear drop that Catich somehow missed at about 12 feet in the air as it went off the backboard and in for a 43-41 lead. It was a shot that could have been placed on ESPN top plays of the week because of the situation and how high he had to put the ball to get the two points.
On the ensuing possession, Tyrone looked to feed Dane in the post, but a tipped pass attempt from the junior fell into the hands of Triana, giving the ball right back to the Grape Pickers. After a couple of passes and one missed shot, North East found Rouse once again as he stuck a shot at the top of the key which gave them a 45-41 lead with 1:47 to go. This kid seriously was on cloud nine from start to finish.
Tyrone wasted their last timeout at 1:44 to try and regroup for the finale. They looked to clear the floor for Dane once again, but Aaron Meehl picked the cookie from Gehret’s pocket and was fouled abruptly after the turnover.
Meehl hit one of two, leaving slight room for Tyrone to make a last minute run. Tyrone used their speed to move the ball up the court and made three quick passes, finding Updyke for a sweet trey at the top of the key with :55 to go. North East used a timeout to settle things down as they saw their 46-41 lead drop to 46-44 with one killer shot.
North East came out of the timeout and managed to run off almost 30 seconds before Tyrone fouled the man of the night, Rouse. Once again, he knocked both free throws down, giving the Grape Pickers a four-point lead.
Catich answered quickly with a deuce from the wing, but time killed the Eagles as they fouled with four seconds left, leaving Bryan Kirsch to seal the deal with two free throws.
After hitting one foul shot, a surprise timeout from North East was called. This technique is usually used to ice a player, but then again, I’m guessing he told his team to back off so they didn’t give Tyrone any chance of a comeback.
Kirsch drilled the second and iced the game as Tyrone’s run finally came to an end against a great North East team, 50-46.
“I thought that Tyrone was very good,” North East head coach Pyle stated. “They were big, physical, and did a fine job in handling the ball. They were well conditioned and everyone you play at this point in the season is a good basketball team. To be this far, Tyrone should be proud of themselves because they were a pretty good basketball team like their record indicated.”
This was a season to remember for Tyrone as they answered several critics on how to stop this team. It took a fifth seed in the state and they barely slid by the Eagles down the stretch of the game. Tyrone was underrated from the beginning, but they overcame a lot of adversity through the year and showed the state that they belonged in the top 20 teams rather than 137th.
Tyrone finished their season with a 23-6 record, one of the most impressive seasons in the history of the school. They were just the second team in school history to reach the second round of inner-districts and they have nothing to hang their heads about after the loss.
Brooks knocked down 10 points in the loss, while Catich led Tyrone with 17 points as the duo combined for 27 points in their last game as an Eagle. Catich worked hard to be the commander of this army and gave this team the legs to get out and win big games when they needed him most.
“After we got up early,” Catich said, “I thought we had a chance to win. When that first quarter showed 12-7 in our favor, I was pumped up because we were beating this tough team. We knew keeping that one-point lead at the half wasn’t good enough, so we had to keep our energy levels high through the second half to win the game. I think we did a good job with our intensity level, but they just hit a couple more shots than us down the stretch. They were really quick and pinched every time I drove to the bucket. I give this team a lot of respect, but overall we had a great year. We played our butts off every night, had a few bad games, but we had a really great year this season.”
It’s tough to lose a game this far down the road, but making it that far and enjoying the experience is what sports are all about.
North East was led by Rouse and Triana as they combined for 35 of their 50 points in the game. Rouse seemed to knock down anything within the out of bounds line the entire game and Triana hit clutch shots down the stretch of the game to push them ahead of the Eagles.
Rouse had a game high 21 and Triana chipped in 14. The Grape Pickers will move on to the third round where there remains eight teams as they match-up with Farrell.
North East 50 Tyrone 46
Tyrone – Catich 6 3-4 17, Brooks 3 4-4 10, Updyke 3 0-0 8, Dane 3 1-2 7, Peterman 1 0-0 2, Gehret 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 8-10 46.
North East – Rouse 8 4-4 21, Triana 5 2-3 14, Szwejbka 3 0-0 7, Meehl 1 2-4 4, Kirsch 0 2-2 2, LaFuria 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 10-13 50.
Score by Quarters
Tyrone 12 11 6 17 – 46
North East 7 15 15 13 – 50
Three-point goals: Tyrone-4 (Catich-2, Updyke-2)
North East-4 (Triana-2, Rouse, Szwejbka)