It hasn’t been a good year athletically so far for Philipsburg-Osceola brothers Ryan and Jeremy Whitehead.
Up until now, anyway, but if the first two games of the new basketball season are any indication, that’s about to change big time.
To say the least, they were both very happy to be back.
Ryan and Jeremy were named to the All-Tournament Team — Ryan was MVP — as they led the Mounties to the tournament championship with wins over Southern Huntingdon and Mount Union.
In the 70-43 win over Southern Huntingdon on Dec. 6, the two combined to score 34 points and pull down 19 rebounds as P-O went on a 44-18 run in the middle quarters and pulled away for its first win of the season.
Tyler Doyle and Kaleb Richardson also chipped in with double-figures, each scoring 13 points each.
In the championship game the next day against Mount Union, Ryan scored 21, Jeremy 14, Richardson 12, and P-O pulled away in the fourth quarter and held off the Trojans, 66-61, for the tournament title.
The game was close all the way, and Mt. Union actually led, 50-47, going into the fourth quarter. P-O, however, rallied down the stretch with an 19-11 run and took home the trophy.
It will be all business now for the Mounties with four Mountain League contests on tap before the holidays — against Huntingdon and Bellefonte at home and at Clearfield and BEA.
ST. JOSEPH’S CATHOLIC ACADMEY
It was also tournament time for St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy. The Wolves traveled to Brookville for the Brookville Tip-Off Tournament, and the hosts certainly didn’t make things very comfortable in Dec. 6’s opening game.
Brookville is the defending 3A champions out of District 9, and it showed. The Blue Raiders broke out to a big 51-19 lead at halftime and continued to put on the pressure throughout the second half. The final score was 86-39.
Brendan Scanlon was a high-point for SJCA with 23 points for the night.
Against Brockway on Dec. 7, it at first looked like the Wolves were in for another long night.
Brockway started with a 14-0 lead, but Scanlon and his team slowly began to gain confidence. It was 41-26 at halftime, and then SJCA rallied in the second half to tie the game at 62-62 in the final minute.
Unfortunately for SJCA, Brockway held on after making two foul shots with two second left for a 64-62 win.
Scanlon, who was named to the All-Tournament Team, scored a career-high 37 points against Brockway while Aiden Cross added 10.
“The team grew up a lot over the course of two games,” St. Joe’s head coach Richard Ciambotti said. “Friday night was a very difficult way to open up the season, against a terrific opponent, but they battled regardless.
“Saturday, the team could have folded. Instead they fought back into the game and took the lead late. Now we just need to learn how to finish. The improvement over four halves of basketball was excellent.”
In State College, the Little Lions opened their season in the Skip Coleman Tip-Off Tournament in the North Gym.
And the news for SC was both good and bad. The Lions opened their season with a 62-56 victory over District 1’s Bishop Shanahan on Dec. 6.
In the finals the next day, however, another District 1 team — West Chester East — held on for a 74-60 win over the Little Lions to take the tournament championship.
State College will now dive into its Mid Penn Conference schedule with five league games scheduled before the holidays at CD East, Chambersburg, at Cumberland Valley, Harrisburg and at Mifflin County.
In other local action, Penns Valley began the new year with a strong 59-44 win at East Juniata on Dec. 7. The Rams started strong, taking a 32-19 lead at halftime, and then held on for their first win of the season.
On Dec. 9, however, PV traveled to Central for its first Mountain League game and came up short against the Dragons.
Central played dominating defense in its 55-30 win, holding the Rams to single-digit totals in every quarter. It was 25-14 at the half, and the Rams were unable to rally in the second half and lost their first game.
Next up, PV will travel to St. Joseph’s Academy on Dec. 11 and then take on a very good Tyrone team at home on Dec.
BALD EAGLE, BELLEFONTE
Both Bald Eagle Area and Bellefonte lost their season openers. BEA fell short at West Branch, 61-57, on Dec. 6 and will try to get into the winning column on Dec. 10 against Clearfield at home.
The Raiders also lost a close, nonleague game at Central Mountain, 53-49, on Dec. 6. Connor Soo and Zane Probst both scored 11 points for CM in the win.
Bellefonte will next be in action away at P-O on December 13.
State College’s Grace Prep cruised to a 51-22 victory over Great Commission at home on Dec. 6. Prep shot out to a 26-9 lead after the first quarter and then cruised home from there.
Next on the Prep schedule is Meadowbrook Christian at home on Dec. 13.