The Southern Huntingdon Tip-Off Tournament got underway on Friday night in Orbisonia. The four-team field included Philipsburg-Osceola along with Juniata High School and Mount Union. The event is sponsored by the Community State Bank of Orbisonia.
On Friday night, Mount Union opened things with a match-up against Philipsburg-Osceola and the Rockets took on three-time defending champion Juniata in the night cap.
Philipsburg 57, Mount Union 48
The Trojans opened the first quarter with a couple steals, but did not capitalize and the Mountaineers took an early lead. The Trojans played good defense with a couple turnovers on offense that kept them behind by a bucket most of the period. Late in the quarter, the Mountaineers were up by three points and the Trojans hit two-of-four from the line to make it a one-point game.
The teams continued to play close in the second stanza, separated by just a basket early and then the Mountaineers added two points to go up by four. Late in the second quarter, the Mountaineers outscored the Trojans 11-5 to open a nine-point lead going into the intermission.
Mount Union could not get the offense rolling in the third with the Mountaineers holding them to just five points in the frame. Philipsburg spread the ball around with Ryan Whitehead hitting inside for four of his team-high 17 points on the night. River Terry also hit four points for the Trojans with two from the foul line. Terry led the Trojans with 14 points. At the end of the third quarter the Trojans were behind by 18 points.
Mount Union opened the fourth quarter with a nine-point run. The Trojans had the lead cut to 12 points midway through the fourth. Quinton Posey then nailed his second trey of the quarter and Seth Smith along with Dylan Gearhart added treys with the Trojans getting the score to within six points. At the two-minute mark the Mountaineers had the score back to a ten-point spread and the Trojans traded buckets the rest of the way.
“The team was nervous early in the game and could not get settled in before they opened the lead, which put us in a hole,” commented Trojans head coach Scott McClain. “They did not really get focused until late and we missed shots early. The defense played well, but we panicked in the third quarter and did not finish well.”
Southern Huntingdon 68, Juniata 58
Southern Huntingdon came out and hit the floor running in the second game of the night only to fall behind early off the treys of Bryson Clark. The Rockets fought back and went on an 11-0 run late with a three from Ryder Hileman and Aaron Harper hit for five points to give the Rockets a five-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Rockets continued to play hard in the second period with Harper adding 15 of the Rockets 20 points to the scoreboard. Harper led the Rockets with 25 points on the night. The Indians hit for 18 points with the Rockets taking a seven-point lead into the locker room.
Southern came out in the third stanza and in the first four minutes outscored the Indians 6-2. The Rockets continued to play hard, opening the lead to 13 points going into the final period.
Both teams were working the defense hard in the fourth with the Indians going into the press at the beginning. The press produced some turnovers and the Indians started to chip into the lead, while fighting against the clock. The Rockets maintained a ten-point lead through the frame and sealed the win.
“The hard work the team put in during the last week and a half paid off tonight,” stated Rockets head coach Stacy Horne. “We played very hard for all four quarters tonight. It was one of the best efforts I have had from a team since I have been coaching. You just can not ask for any more than what they did on the floor tonight. They rotated the ball well and cut down on turnovers.”
The Trojans face Juniata at 6 p.m. today in the consolation game while the Rockets take on Philipsburg for the tournament title at approximately 7:30 p.m.