About 15 minutes after Marissa Ward ended the Lady Eagles’ overtime thriller in dramatic fashion, the top-seeded Bald Eagle Area Eagles took the court inspired by what they had witnessed.
The Eagles never trailed, en route to a 68-44 drubbing of Marion Center in the District 6 Class AA boys’ basketball quarterfinals on Saturday night in Hollidaysburg.
The win will pit the Eagles against No. 5 seed Northern Cambria in Tuesday night’s semifinals. The Colts upset No. 4 seed Tyrone 64-54 on Saturday.
The Eagles, who have leaned on the broad shoulders of 6-foot-7-senior Dennis Fisher all season, instead relied heavily on the sleek physique of 5-foot-8-sophomore Brendon Gettig against the Stingers.
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Gettig led all scorers with 22 points, but most impressive was that 16 of those points came from inside.
“They really keyed on Dennis tonight,” Gettig said after the game. “That left me and a couple other guys open a lot and he did a really good job of finding us down low.”
Fisher finished with 14 points four assists and two blocked shots.
The Stingers hunkered down into a compacted zone defense for most of the night. Teams have tried that all season against the Eagles and have been punished when Bryce and Bryan Greene perforated holes in the zone with the dribble.
Bryan scored 12 points and had three steals, while Bryce had eight points and four steals against the Stingers.
However, this time Gettig dominated, benefitting from passes that penetrated the defense.
“He doesn’t get enough respect,” said Eagles’ head coach Bill Butterworth. “He’s overshadowed by the (Greenes) and Dennis Fisher and then he just sneaks in.”
Fisher played decoy for bits of the first half, catching passes in the middle of the zone and then hitting open teammates.
Gettig hit his first jumper in the short corner courtesy of Fisher, who found his teammate after being was swarmed by three defenders.
Next, Gettig scored in transition off a different type of Fisher assist. The senior rejected Andrew Rupp, which led to a fast break and a Gettig and-one layup complete with free throw.
The sophomore then drilled a 3-pointer in the corner and there was no stopping him.
“You let him get hot like that and you might as well forget it,” Butterworth said. “He’s the kind of player that when he get his shot going ...”
Bald Eagles nabbed an early 17-10 lead after one quarter thanks to a 9-2 run in the frame.
Butterworth said he wasn’t worried before the game about his team having to wait for the girls to finish up.
“These guys were ready no matter what,” Butterworth said.
When Ward’s layup narrowly beat the overtime buzzer, she immediately put her hands to her face and shed tears of joy.
“That was awesome,” Gettig said of Ward’s play. “It gave us a lot of energy. It was great for them to get a win too.”
The Eagles carried that momentum in the first half, leading at the break 31-23.
If the offense sparked the lead early, the defense sealed the victory in the third quarter.
Todd Fetsko led the Stingers with 20 points, but Marion Center got little help elsewhere. They scored just six points in the third.
The pressure applied by the brothers Greene ruined the Stingers offensive rhythm.
“Coach said (at halftime) we had to pick up the defense and then scoring opportunities would come,” Bryce Greene said. “We just went and double-teamed them and whenever they turned their back.”
Gettig supplied the offense, scoring the first six points of the third. His flurry was part of a 10-2 that gave the Eagles separation. They ended the quarter with a 47-29 lead.
The fourth quarter was more of the same.
However, it was Fisher who punctuated it late with a one-handed dunk. Clayton Cingle broke the Stingers’ trap and found Jon Romine (six points), who one-touched the ball to Fisher for the jam with 41.9 left.
“We don’t know much about them,” Butterworth said of his matchup with Northern Cambria. “They just moved up from Class A. They’ve been to the state playoffs and won three years in a row. They have five seniors ... if we can play defense like (tonight) I think we’re good against anybody right now.”