JOHNSTOWN Everett coach Keith Moyer waited until there were only a few pieces of the net left to climb the ladder and cut it completely off following his Lady Warriors' 44-35 victory in the District 5 Class AA championship game Friday night.
He probably didn't mind the few extra minutes, considering he'd been waiting seven years to do it.
Moyer's Lady Warriors won their first district title since 2000 and first since he's been at the helm.
"Oh, this is nice," said Moyer, who is now 151-52 in seven years at Everett. "We talked last night about how many times we've been here and haven't brought home the big one, and we each dedicated the game to someone tonight.
"I dedicated it not only to this team, but every player who has come through here and not came away with the gold."
Likely the best of those former players, Jess Beegle, was on hand Friday night at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Sports Center to watch Moyer finally win a title after he began his career 0-5 in district finals.
"I feel good for him," Beegle said. "I feel really happy for the girls and for everyone. They played really good defense and shot the ball well enough on the offensive end."
Everett trailed for just 1:20 of the game and held the lead for the final 12:05, but Tussey Mountain made the Lady Warriors work for the title with a late run.
Aubrea Phipps, who finished 9-for-11 from the free-throw line, made a pair with 1:45 to play in the game to put Everett ahead by 10, but Courtney Rupert made a free throw and hit a 3-pointer in the span of five seconds for the Lady Titans to cut the lead to six.
With just more than a minute to play, Paige Reed's 3-pointer that would have cut the lead to just three, rimmed out.
"When Courtney hit that 3-pointer, I thought that was going to get us going," Tussey Mountain coach Todd Gates said. "If Paige would have made hers, we would have been down three, and we might have had something going."
Instead, freshman Kadie Morral corralled her 18th rebound of the game for Everett, and Bailey Morral made three of four foul shots down the stretch to seal the game.
Bailey Morral, along with Phipps, led the Lady Warriors with 13 points. Both are seniors who have dealt with losses in the final before. Everett's other senior, Laura DuVall, connected on 3-pointers to end the first half and begin the second.
"It feels so good to finally win one," said Bailey Morral as she clutched her championship medal and received a marriage proposal from the Everett student section. "People will remember us as the ones who won it now, and other Everett teams will say they want to get the gold like us."
Reed led Tussey Mountain with nine points. The Lady Titans split a pair of games with Everett in the regular season, scoring 51 and 50 points in those contests, but never got their offense going Friday.
"We just shot the ball really bad," Gates said. "We didn't deserve to win. We didn't play very well. Congratulations to Everett, Keith is a really good guy, and this is his first one. It's special, but it's just a shame it had to come at our expense."
Everett (19-6) will play the fifth-place team from District 7 next Friday at a District 5 site in the Class AA PIAA playoffs.
"Anything from here on is a bonus," Moyer said. "We set a goal to get here and win this game, and we did. Everything else is icing on the cake."
Tussey Mountain, which ended its season 18-7, will lose just one player, Olivia Claycomb, to graduation.
"Olivia really stepped up for us as a leader this year," Gates said. "From the first day of practice, it was clear that she was going to be our leader. On the floor, off the floor or practice, she really took charge and made sure everyone was ready to go."
TUSSEY MOUNTAIN (35): Claycomb 3 0-0 6, Coffman 1 0-0 2, Kendrick 1 4-4 6, Reed 4 0-2 9, Lynn 2 0-3 4, Rupert 1 1-2 4, Stoudnour 2 0-0 4. Totals 14 5-11 35.
EVERETT (44): B. Morral 3 6-8 13, K. Morral 4 1-4 9, Au. Phipps 2 9-11 13, Beegle 0 2-6 2, DuVall 2 1-3 7, Snider 0 0-0 0, Rice 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 19-32 44.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Tussey Mountain6 10 11 8 - 35
Everett10 11 12 11 - 44
3-pointers: Tussey Mountain 2 (Reed, Rupert). Everett 3 (DuVall 2, B. Morral)
Records: Tussey Mountain (18-7); Everett (19-6).
Officials: Tony Rullo, Craig Elbin, Scott Muthler