ERIE — Friday night's boys basketball game between Tri-Valley League rivals Skyline and Erie was so close throughout that it was difficult to imagine the tide ever breaking in either team's favor.
But when it did, Erie junior Ethyn Tyson was right at the center of the action.
In the final minutes of a game that was within one to four points nearly the entire time, the Tigers turned up the intensity at the defensive end and began to tip passes with regularity. At the end of seemingly every resulting fast break, Tyson scored eight points in the final four minutes to lead the Tigers to a 67-54 win.
"I have a lot of faith in my teammates that we would pull it out when we needed to," said Tyson, who finished the physical contest with a cut under his right eye from an elbow in the paint. "We always give 100 percent effort and what was working for us at the end was playing together. Coach calls it, '5V,' for playing five-on-five all the way through. We played energetic and we're happy because that's why we're here — to play basketball."
Tyson scored 10 of his 12 points during the fourth quarter, in which the Tigers (8-6, 3-3 Tri-Valley) had a 29-19 scoring advantage after leading by just three to start the frame. Jadon Lucero led the Tigers with 18 points and Jeffrey Farineau scored 17.
For the Falcons (5-8, 0-6 Tri-Valley), who have yet to win a conference game and led 21-20 at halftime despite the absence of injured big man Austin Robison, senior Brayden Blick led the way with 21 points. Blick and sophomore guard Gage Robertson each hit three of the Falcons' seven total 3-pointers.
"We came out knowing these guys want to fight hard and compete with us," Erie head coach Scott Melin said. "Number four (Blick) is a phenomenal player. He hit a couple of shots but we were able to build our confidence attacking down low and then kick it out to have guys shoot."
Melin added that he was glad his boys were able to pull away far enough to avoid another nail-biting finish. In all six of their losses this season, the Tigers have fallen by nine or fewer points.
"I love our team, man," Melin said. "They always play hard, win or lose. The biggest loss we've had is by nine so we're in every game. They fight hard and compete, and I'm loving the way they're playing."
As Tri-Valley League play nears its midpoint, the Tigers will hit the road to face Windsor on Tuesday while the Falcons will host Frederick that same day.
Erie 67, Skyline 54
At Erie H.S.
SKYLINE (5-8, 0-6)
Lopez 1 0-0 2, Martinez 0 0-0 0, Blick 7 4-8 21, Monticello 1 0-0 3, McGregor 0 1-2 1, Robertson 4 1-1 12, Robison 2 0-0 4, Smith 5 1-2 11. Totals 20 7-13 54.
ERIE (8-6, 3-3)
Larson 0 0-0 0, Humble 0 0-0 0, Tyson 5 2-2 12, Nguyen 0 0-0 0, Meier 0 0-0 0, D. Lucero 2 0-0 4, L. Loy 5 0-0 11, Farineau 6 4-8 17, J. Lucero 7 1-3 18, K. Loy 1 0-0 2, Mathis 1 0-0 3, Hinman 0 0-0 0, Yopp 0 0-0 0. Totals 27 7-13 67.
Score by quarters:Skyline 12101319—54
3-point field goals — Skyline (7): Blick 3, Robertson 3, Monticello; Erie (6): J. Lucero 3, Mathis, Farineau, L. Loy. Total fouls — Skyline 12, Erie 14. Fouled out — Robison. Technical fouls — Blick.