Tipton helps lift Apollo-Ridge over Section 2-AA foe Shady Side Academy
His face framed in glee after his team’s best game of the season, Apollo-Ridge guard Tre Tipton passed the attention to his teammates.
It is what the senior tends to do after big games, be it football or basketball.
“It’s not about me. I don’t even know how many points I had,” Tipton said. “I am proud of my team because we showed what we’re capable of doing.”
With Tipton leading the way, Apollo-Ridge put together a 67-53 triumph over visiting Shady Side Academy on Friday night and moved into sole possession of second place in Section 2-AA.
Tipton had 23 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks, including a pinned rejection on the backboard, as the Vikings (12-4, 6-2) see-sawed runs with the Indians early and seemed to have an uncomfortable time closing the deal late, before finally posting their fifth straight win.
“Our defense played like dogs,” said Tipton, who scored 12 in the second quarter and 16 in the first half.
Apollo-Ridge put in a 3-2 zone defense at Thursday’s practice after seeing Ford City have success with it against Shady Side Academy (10-6, 6-3).
“Ultimately, defense is what won us this game,” Apollo-Ridge coach Matt Gourley said.
Offense helped, too. Apollo-Ridge had a self-proclaimed two-headed monster in football, with Tipton and sophomore Duane Brown sharing quarterback duties. Senior Alex Smith was a star wide receiver and, in basketball, gives the Vikings a three-headed monster.
“Yeah, but a monster with three heads still needs legs and a body,” Tipton said, again referring to teammates.
Smith finished with 18 points, including three 3-pointers, and Brown added 15 points, six rebounds and four steals.
“We piled up momentum in the second quarter,” Smith said.
“We were able to push the ball tonight. That’s when we’re at our best.”
Shady Side beat Apollo-Ridge, 70-52, earlier in the season. But the Vikings didn’t have Tipton, who was nursing a minor ankle injury from football.
This time, the Indians could only watch as Tipton showed why he is a Division I-caliber athlete.
He is headed to Pitt to play football.
“After that (first) game, there weren’t too many happy faces in that locker room,” Gourley said. “We couldn’t wait to play (Shady Side) again.
“Tre helps us in every statistical way. Alex had been carrying us as Tre was trying to find his game again. With him back, we played our best game so far.”
Apollo-Ridge used a 11-0 run to build a 22-10 lead in the second quarter. The Indians answered with their own 11-0 surge to cut it to one. Tipton scored six points in the final minute of the first half, including a rare 3-pointer, to give the Vikings a 33-29 lead at the break.
Junior guard Loren Wingard hit a 3, Smith made two from deep and Tipton put back a miss to put the Vikings back up by 10 at 46-36.
A 3 by Jackson Fitzgerald and a driving layup by Louis Berry — Shady Side’s football senior backfield duo — cut it to five before Brown beat the third-quarter buzzer with a 3 to make it 51-41.
Consecutive baskets by junior swingman Jordan Conn got the Indians to within 55-47, but junior forward Maurice Stankus scored on a pair of feeds from Tipton to highlight a 7-0 run that put the Vikings ahead 62-47 with 3:04 remaining.
“We were all moving well and clicking better tonight,” Brown said. “Coach drew up that 3-2 zone, and it worked.”
Despite the win, the Vikings had 17 turnovers.
“We have to clean up some of the errors for sure,” Gourley said. “If we do that, and play like this, we’ll be a tough team to play.”
Junior 6-foot-4 forward Mike Ware, who showed a nice touch from the perimeter, led Shady Side Academy with 15 points, and guard Tyler Demchak added 13.
Apollo-Ridge made 15 of 19 free throws.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.