Tyree Turner’s 24 points lift GCC past Penn-Trafford in Hempfield tournament

Friday, December 2, 2022 | 10:41 PM

Tyree Turner said it took him a while to get back into basketball form after football season.

“I was so out of (basketball) shape,” said Turner, who plays quarterback for Greensburg Central Catholic. “I had to get in the gym and run a lot.”

It didn’t take him long to find his scoring touch in the season opener.

The junior guard scored a game-high 24 points to pace the Centurions to a 62-51 victory over Penn-Trafford on Friday night in the 18th Hempfield Tip-Off Tournament.

Senior forward Franco Alvarez added 19 points for GCC, which finally gained separation in the second half by changing the pace of play with defensive switches.

“We played well as a team,” Turner said. “Defensively, we played better and did some good things in transition. We had good chemistry.”

Turner scored 11 of GCC’s first 13 points and took a leadership role on both ends of the floor.

“He was ready to go from the start,” GCC coach Christian Hyland said of Turner. “He put the mentally demanding part of leading us on his shoulders.”

Turner helped guide the offense as he shared time at point guard with freshman Samir Crosby and guided the Centurions into a matchup zone defense in the third quarter.

The move produced instant results and allowed GCC (1-0) to pull away.

Penn-Trafford (0-1) led early and rallied from a 10-point deficit to tie it with five minutes left in the third.

But with game knotted at 37 after a 3-pointer by the Warriors’ Brayden Stone, GCC went into its zone and forced a couple of key turnovers.

The toggling of man-to-man and zone allowed the Centurions to control the tempo and force the Warriors to take tough shots.

Senior Jaydin Canady scored on a break, then came up with a steal and dished to Crosby for a layup to make it 43-37.

“We’re trying to play faster and push the ball,” Penn-Trafford coach Doug Kelly said. “We put a little time in on the zone. You don’t work on zone much on the offseason. It was a difference-maker (for GCC) tonight. We got a little stagnant.”

Turner’s floater in the lane gave GCC a six-point lead heading to the fourth.

He was fouled on an off-balance layup and made the foul shot to give GCC a 52-41 lead with 5:13 to play.

After fighting for two rebounds in a row, one on his own putback attempt, Turner made another layup before dishing to Alvarez to stretch the lead to 59-46.

The 6-foot-5 Alvarez was strong around the rim against a mostly smaller Penn-Trafford lineup. He also converted a three-point play with 4:15 remaining to up the margin to 55-43. He had nine in the fourth.

“The big kid did a nice job and (Ryan Kimmel) was physical,” Kelly said. “I’m proud of our guys for the first game.”

Crosby, who made his first career basketball start after an impressive debut football season, scored nine points.

“He was very calm out there,” Turner said of Crosby. “He’s way better than I was when I was a freshman.”

Penn-Trafford trailed 27-17 in the second quarter before three 3-pointers — from Stone, Jason Sabol and Tyler Anthony — allowed the Warriors to cut the lead to 33-28 by the half.

Tyler Freas led Penn-Trafford with 16 points, and Sabol added 12.

The Warriors made eight two-pointers and seven 3s.

“This was high level for the first game,” Hyland said. “(Penn-Trafford) is well-coached. They’re a playoff team in 5A. We were sloppy at times, but I thought everyone gave us solid minutes. Some of the football guys hadn’t played in two years.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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