SAXTON — There are many ebbs and flows when Tussey Mountain and Everett square off in girls’ basketball.
On Wednesday, Everett pulled out to an early 14-2 lead in the first quarter, but the Lady Titans battled back in the second half to take a small lead at the half, 22-18.
In the second half, the Lady Titans kept the Lady Warriors at bay, despite the visitors pulling within a point of the lead as the hosts held on for a 41-36 victory.
“Every time we play, it’s a fun game,” said Tussey Mountain coach Todd Gates. “This is always a game we always look forward to. It’s exciting. It’s just the way it should be when we play each other.”
“It always is when Everett and Tussey play,” said Everett coach Keith Moyer on those ebbs and flows. “Both teams competed. We didn’t make shots when we had opportunities. That was the difference of the game.
“We’re young. These are great experiences for our kids, and it’s only going to make us better. This is the first time we were down by 3 with 3 minutes to go in the game. It’s a learning experience. The next time we’re in this situation, hopefully we’ll make some plays and some shots.”
The game opened with each team exchanging buckets and the visiting Lady Warriors using 9 points from Cloe Price and 3-pointer from Olivia Hillegas for a 14-2 lead with 2 minutes left in the first period.
The Lady Titans started out a 7-point run that stretched into the beginning of the second quarter as Alayna Clark scored 3 points and Cara Benton started out her career-high 16-point night with 4 points.
“She’s capable of that every night,” Gates explained on Benton. “Hopefully this propels her to doing that every game.”
Everett’s Sara Shaffer ended Tussey’s 7-point stretch with a bucket to push Everett’s lead to 7 points, 16-9.
Clark and Karli Lucko scored a combined 5 points for the hosts before Price added a layup for Everett to give the Lady Warriors their final lead of the night with 4:23 left in the first half, 18-14.
Tussey Mountain closed out the first half with four points each from Lucko and Benton, tying the game with 3:22 left in the first half, and taking a 22-18 lead into the half.
Benton opened the second half with a bucket before Hillegas and Jade Colledge cut the deficit to 2 points 1:10 into the second half, 24-22.
After many shots of the Lady Warriors fell in the first period, they struggled to shoot in the second half. That aided Tussey Mountain as the hosts had a 7-point stretch with Aubree Weaver, Benton, and Adyson Weyandt each scoring, pushing the hosts ahead, 31-22.
Despite the scoring woes, Everett only trailed Tussey by 4 points at the end of the third period with a 3-pointer from Hillegas and 4 points from Price and Shaffer, 33-29.
It was a one field goal game as Everett’s Kylee Harman got a putback to begin the final period, but the Lady Titans answered with 4 points from Lucko and Benton to push ahead, 37-31.
Price put the Lady Warriors within a point of the Lady Titans with a 5-point stretch, 37-36, with 2:19 left to play.
Lucko scored on a layup for Tussey Mountain with 2 minutes left to play, but the Lady Titans wouldn’t score again until there was 19 seconds left in the game as Clark scored a pair of free throws to put the game out of reach as the Lady Titans won, 41-36.
“We went to a zone (defense) and they didn’t shoot the ball well in the second quarter,” Gates noted. “We were not able to guard them on man. We were flat-footed, and we weren’t playing well on offense. When we went to zone, and we’re not a zone team, it picked things up for us. We started scoring on the other end.
“At the end of the game, we did what we had to do. It wasn’t very pretty, it wasn’t very smart, but we did what we needed to do to pull off a win.”
Price led all scorers with 20 points.
“Price and Hillegas played well tonight,” Moyer added. “We needed the supporting cast to knock down a couple of shots and it was a different game.”
In addition to Benton’s 16 points, Lucko added 11.
Everett visits Bellwood-Antis on Saturday, while Tussey Mountain visits Fannett-Metal on Tuesday.
TUSSEY MOUNTAIN 41, EVERETT 36
Tussey Mountain 7 15 11 8 — 41