Tyger steps down after Elderton loss
NEW KENSINGTON — For the last two seasons Elderton head coach Jim Tyger has done his best to elevate the girls’ basketball program from doormat to playoff contender.
He just couldn’t lift the Lady Bobcats to a postseason victory.
Monaca (11-12) senior Selena Rowan scored a game-high 18 points and junior Brittany Gianetti added 14 to lift the Lady Indians to a 53-40 win over the Lady Bobcats in what turned out to be Tyger’s last game on the bench.
“My family is going to come first from now on,” Tyger said. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years and my kids told me that I’ve spent my life with other people’s kids. I’m 60 years old and I don’t know how many ticks of the clock I’m going to get.”
Tyger has done a tremendous job in his two seasons on Elderton’s bench. He revamped the team into a contender in his first season despite the loss of his best player, Melissa Reefer, to a knee injury. He then kept the Lady Bobcats focused this season and led the team into the WPIAL Class A playoffs for the first time since 1994 despite losing Reefer again early in the season and playing in a section that featured girls’ basketball powerhouses Serra Catholic and Mount Alvernia.
“This is something that has nothing to do with Elderton because I love these kids,” Tyger said. “They took me in, I took them in, and I think they did a fair job in the last two years.”
Whoever takes over for Tyger will get a playoff-caliber team. The Lady Bobcats only graduate one starter, center Teila Nolder, and should have Reefer back for her senior season.
“I wouldn’t want to leave after next year. I don’t care what things look like, I just don’t do that,” Tyger said. “This was the correct year for me to do it for my family, and I let these kids off for anything that has to do with their families, so I know they’ll understand that.”
It still came as a blow to the players when they realized after the game that they not only lost their WPIAL title hopes, but also their head coach.
“He’s a good coach, so I don’t know what to say,” Elderton junior guard Krista Nordby said. “He’s awesome. Everyone loved him. He’s just a great guy.”
Still, Tyger might have had at least one more game to coach if his team could have put the ball in the hoop.
Elderton was abysmal shooting from the field throughout the game, but it couldn’t have gotten much worse than during the second quarter. The Lady Bobcats missed their first 12 shots from the floor and ended a 10:46 streak without a field goal when Nolder hit a layup with 1:02 remaining in the first half. Their futility wasn’t just limited to the field as they made only 10-of-23 from the line.
“We must have missed four layups in that second quarter,” Tyger said. “We also missed at least 10 or 12 free throws in the game and that’s what wins basketball games.”
Monaca wasn’t doing itself any favors either. The two teams combined for 16 points in the second quarter with the Lady Indians holding a 9-7 edge.
“Sometimes I’m as hard-headed as they come and I probably would have stayed in our man-to-man until we were down 10 or 12 points,” Monaca head coach Chris Raso said. “We kind of thought that would stop their penetration, so we went to the matchup (zone), tried a little triangle-and-two and it worked. We’re just lucky that they didn’t shoot the ball well.”
Natalie Plavi was the only Elderton played to reach double figures as she scored 10. The Lady Bobcats floor futility did pad the rebounding statistics a bit with Nordby pulling down 15 and Nolder 14.
Poor shooting aside –the Lady Bobcats were 14-for-58 (24.1 percent) in the game –Elderton still pulled within two, 31-29, with 1:54 to play in the third quarter. Monaca, though, opened the fourth quarter with a 14-4 run that sealed the game away.
“We didn’t know what to expect.,” Nordby said. “We tried our hardest, but we fell apart toward the end.”
The loss, though, couldn’t take the smile off Tyger’s face.
“I’m not mad at them,” Tyger said. “They came along way for they’ve been up against without Melissa and they came down here and they were respectable. That’s all we wanted.”
It’s all any coach could ask for in his finale.