Greensburg Central Catholic’s Turner keeps driving

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Tuesday, March 7, 2023 | 6:51 PM


A newspaper photo is framed and propped up on the aluminum ledge of a dry-erase board in the boys basketball coaches’ office at Greensburg Central Catholic.

It shows Tyree Turner driving to the basket through a throng of arms. Arms wrapped around his. Arms trying to push back the junior guard.

The snapshot also caught Turner’s grimace, an expression as twisted as the limbs around him.

While a foul wasn’t called on that play against eventual WPIAL champion Aliquippa, the Centurions’ leading man was not deterred. He kept attacking the rim in the thorny semifinal, and he’ll keep doing so against future opponents, including the next one and those that could lie ahead in the PIAA playoffs.

“That kind of game toughens you as a player,” Turner said. “It’s mentally a shift. I embrace that.”

Turner and GCC (18-6) will play at District 9 runner-up Otto-Eldred (23-2) at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in the Class 2A first round.

GCC will travel nearly four hours to play Saturday. Road trips are nothing new to Turner, who lives in Indiana and makes the almost daily commute to Greensburg.

“I’m always on the road,” Turner said. “I’m used to it.”

The affable Turner leads GCC in scoring at 20.2 points per game as his prep career, and game, continues to progress forward.

He also averages 6.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists. Two triple-doubles have given those numbers a bump.

There is a clear and firm sense of trust in Turner among the coaching staff and players. If GCC needs a basket, Turner gets the nod.

“He is just solid on all three levels,” GCC coach Christian Hyland said. “He has a quiet confidence to him and leads by example.”

Turner had 18 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in a 73-54 win over Eden Christian in the WPIAL quarterfinals.

GCC finished third in the WPIAL after its third straight semifinal appearance.

PIAA playoff experience is something Turner and junior forward Franco Alvarez can offer a group that is otherwise unschooled on the topic.

“The team puts confidence in me,” Turner said. “The coaches said to me at the beginning of the season, ‘This is your team.’ ”

Turner drove in for a layup to beat the buzzer last year in the state first round when GCC held off Conemaugh Township, 62-60, in a thriller in Davidsville.

“That was huge for my confidence,” he said. “That was our first state game.”

Ridgway defeated GCC in the second round 59-53.

The loss still bothers Turner, who also has football playoff experience as GCC’s quarterback.

He sees a correlation between football and basketball.

“I am still directing people,” he said. “It’s 10 guys in football and four in basketball. I need to make sure everyone is in the right place. We have three football starters in basketball, so that consistency helps.”

A proven scorer with his drives, Turner has a mid-range jumper at his disposal that teams have trouble guarding.

“Yeah, he’s lethal with that,” Hyland said. “He has a nice touch from 10 to 15 feet.”

He also has shown improvement with his 3-point shooting.

“He’s more confident to take them,” Hyland said of 3s.

Offseason work keeps Turner sharp. He has a unique place to train. His parents, Theo and Malaika Turner, work at IUP. Tyree often trains at the campus field house.

Theo Turner was an athlete at Schenley.

“It’s like 10 minutes from my house,” Turner said. “I have really worked on my outside shot and my free throws. I take a lot of pride in that.”

His brother, Malik, was an athlete at Indiana and attends IUP.

“Going against my brother, and working with my dad, has made be stronger,” said Tyree Turner, who wants to get into the medical field.

Defensively, Turner might guard the other team’s top player, an assignment he or fast-rising freshman guard Samir Crosby draw regularly.

He and Crosby also share point- and off-guard duties.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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