The Tyrone boys basketball team has had a habit of losing halftime leads this year, and Friday evening’s game against Central was right up there with the biggest heartbreakers of the season.
After leading by six at halftime, the Golden Eagles saw the lead go away in the third quarter and trailed by as much as 10 with 3:30 to play in the game. After cutting the deficit all the way to a point, a last second layin was blocked by Central as the Dragons beat the Eagles, 51-48.
Central’s Braden Kitt hit a three to make it 47-38 with 1:52 left. Cortlynd Rhoades responded on the next possession with a three of his own.
After a Central bucket on the other end, Rhoades was fouled on another three-point shot, and sunk all three free throws to make it 49-44 with 37.6 seconds left.
After the Dragons missed a one-and-one, Landen DeHaas was fouled as he drained a big three-pointer with 22.7 seconds left. He hit the ensuing free throw to make it 49-48.
With 10.3 seconds left, the Dragons again missed a one-and-one foul shot. Tyrone got the ball down the court and down low to Brandon Lucas, but Lucas’ shot was blocked and Central picked up the ball. Colby Liebal hit both foul shots with two seconds left.
A last-second prayer from Blaine Hoover from over half-court was high of the basket to end the game.
“We certainly had our chance there at the end, but there’s five kids there that battled back and made it interesting in the last couple seconds,” said Tyrone head coach George Gripp. “We just came up a little short tonight.
“They’re a good team. They move the ball. They made us help on defense and they kicked it to the open guy, and their guys shot really well in the second half. I don’t know if they missed more than one or two outside shots in the second half. They got their confidence and it was tough to stop.”
Although both teams scored points in bunches in the second half, it was the exact opposite in the first half.
Tyrone went to halftime with an 18-12 lead after scoring seven of the last eight points in the final five minutes of the first half.
Central’s Braden Kitt, who finished the game with 20 points including five three-pointers, was held to just three points in the first half.
“We left a lot of points on the floor in the first half,” said Coach Gripp. “We were up six, we should have been up way more than that. We had way too many defensive breakdowns. We certainly didn’t want to have Kitt shooting wide open shots.
“We had way too many turnovers in the 2-3 zone. I think our guys got a little anxious trying to make things happen that really wasn’t there. That turned into transition points for them. That can’t happen against a good team.”
After Hoover drained a three on Tyrone’s first possession of the second half, Central went on a 9-0 run to take its first lead since the early-going of the second quarter.
Damon Gripp had a hoop-and-a-harm to give Tyrone a brief lead back at 24-23 after the free throw, but the Dragons once again came back to score the final eight points of the period to go to the fourth quarter up 31-24.
DeHaas led the Golden Eagles with a dozen points on the night, while Gripp, Hoover, and Rhoades had nine points apiece.
Tyrone (13-8) will have one more regular season game on the road at United on Tuesday evening before moving on to the postseason. They will likely be the No. 3 seed in the District 6 Class 4A bracket, while Central will likely be the second seed, meaning the two will most likely meet again in the first playoff game.
“We’re looking forward to playoffs because we truly believe we’re one of the best teams, if not the best, in the district,” said Coach Gripp. “We know it’s going to be a battle there. We’ll be looking forward to it in 7 to 10 days.”
Central 51, Tyrone 48
Central — 51
Muthler 4 1-1 10, Kitt 7 1-3 20, Albright 3 0-1 6, Kling 0 0-0 0, Klotz 2 0-1 5, Liebal 3 2-3 8, Boyles 1 0-0 2. Totals: 20 4-9 51.
Tyrone — 48
DeHaas 4 2-3 12, Gripp 2 5-5 9, Hoover 3 0-0 9, Lucas 2 2-2 6, Ferguson 1 0-0 3, Rhoades 2 3-3 9, Moon 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 12-13 48. Three-pointers: Central 7 (Muthler, Kitt 5, Klotz), Tyrone 8 (DeHaas 2, Hoover 3, Ferguson, Rhoades 2).
Score by Quarters