T-D HS Basketball

HS Hoops 1213
Shade’s B.J. Spangler (left) and Forbes Road’s Macklin Hawkins reach for a rebound during the first round of the Mountain Cat Tournament at Pitt-Johnstown.

Shade reaches finals of Mountain Cat Tournament

By: Cory Isenberg

Newcomer Blairsville and defending champion Shade punched their respective tickets for today’s championship game Friday night at the Pitt-Johnstown Sports Center in the first round of the 36th annual UPJ Mountain Cat basketball tournament.
The Bobcats (3-0), making their first appearance at the tournament, downed Central Cambria 58-51 in the first game while the Panthers (5-0) pulled away from Forbes Road in the second half to win 41-31.
The Cardinals’ (1-1) slow pace kept Shade off its game shooting-wise and the Panthers trailed 16-14 at the half.
“The tempo in the first half was deliberate and we had a couple long defensive possessions and played just a little bit too passive on the offensive end,” Shade coach Wade Fyock said. “We talked at halftime about being a little bit more aggressive.”
Shade outscored Forbes Road 14-5 in the third quarter and never trailed again.
“We changed our mindset in the second half,” Shade’s Nash Walker said. “We were living and dying by the 3-point line in the first half and the shots just weren’t falling for us. In the second half, we started driving and kicking a little bit and making plays for our teammates and giving them the open shot and crashing the boards a lot. We got a lot of offensive rebounds and some second-chance points.”
Walker and teammate Jeremy Pyles each had a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter which helped give the Panthers a 28-21 lead heading into the fourth.
“We definitely started clicking in the second half and got the momentum to get the win,” Walker said.
Fyock was happy with his team’s effort on the defensive side of the ball.
“Holding a team to 31 points is certainly a great stat but this team shot the ball extremely well in the first four games so I was just waiting for this night to come along where we didn’t shoot so well,” Fyock said. “Fortunately we scratched out a win.”
Walker said that it’s important that the team was able to reach the title game.
“In the postseason, we come to play here at UPJ so as many games as we can get on this floor helps us,” the senior guard said.
Pyles finished with 16 points and Walker had 13 while Matt Holland provided 10 rebounds. The Cardinals got 14 points from Tristan Gelvin and 10 from Kyle Schoen.
With Central Cambria leading 25-23 at the intermission, Blairsville opened the second half on an 8-0 run courtesy of Troy Williams who finished with a game-high 26 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. The Red Devils (1-2) were outscored 15-4 in the frame and were never able to completely recover.
“He took over the game in the second half,” Central Cambria coach Adam Stephan said about Williams. “He really got to the rim. We did a nice job on him in the first half and in the second half, I don’t know if we were a little worn down a little bit. He got to the rim and finished every time he got to the rim.”
Blairsville led 10-9 after the first quarter and appeared to be pulling away in the second, leading by as many as nine before the Red Devils shut them down and ended the half on a 7-0 run to take the halftime advantage.
“We talked in the locker room that we have to play more consistent,” Stephan said. “We play good in spurts and then we have times when we don’t play very well. Until we realize that we have to do it for four quarters straight, it’s going to be a struggle. But they work well together and are very unselfish.”
Tanner Ambrisco topped the Red Devils scoring with 21 points while Trevor Zearing added 11, all in the fourth quarter.
Due to the weather reports, today’s consolation game will begin at 1 p.m. followed by the championship game, 20 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.