Trio of area boys basketball players earn all-state honors

All three players were part of strong teams that captured league and/or district championships.

But when times were dire, those teams often looked these players’ way. And time after time they delivered.

Loyalsock’s Gerald Ross, Wellsboro’s Brandyn Tuttle and St. John Neumann’s David Hill produced outstanding seasons, helping their teams top 20 wins and reach their respective state tournaments. Tuttle played twice each against Ross and Hill, but now all three are teammates. And what a team they are on.

Ross, Tuttle and Hill all earned all-state honors Tuesday afternoon when the Pennsylvania all-state teams were released. Ross earned second-team Class AAA honors and Tuttle was a third-team selection. Hill was a second-team Class A selection.

Ross has established himself as one of Loyalsock’s finest athletes this decade and earned both all-state football and basketball honors for a second straight season. The two-time Sun-Gazette Player of the Year helped Loyalsock win HAC-III, Heartland Conference Tournament and District 4 championships, averaging 18.2 points, five rebounds, three assists and an area-best four steals per game. The two-time HAC-II MVP ranks third in Loyalsock’s storied history with 1,702 career points and no Lancer this decade scored more points.

But Ross was a lot more than a scorer. He was one of the district’s most clutch players and often was at his best in Loyalsock’s biggest games. A four-year starter, Ross was a force throughout districts and helped Loyalsock win 27 games, more than any Lancer team in the 2000s. Ross scored at least 17 points in five of Loyalsock’s six playoff wins and had nine rebounds and four blocks while hitting two key late free throws in a 59-57 district semifinal win against Central Columbia. Ross will graduate as both the area’s all-time leading receiver in football and one of its most decorated basketball players.

Tuttle and Ross had some outstanding battles the past two seasons and Tuttle helped take Wellsboro to new heights. A year after helping the Green Hornets capture their first district championship since 1952, Tuttle carried a young team to a third district final in four years as well as another Northern Tier League-I championship. A relentless competitor, Tuttle was a double-double machine and the main reason Wellsboro won 23 wins and made another state tournament appearance.

Like Ross, Tuttle was a gifted all-around player whose game greatly evolved over the last four seasons. An inside force, Tuttle also could take his game outside and topped both 1,000 career points and 700 rebounds. Tuttle recorded a district-high 20 double-doubles this season and 39 over the past two years. Opposing defenses did all they could to slow Tuttle, but few could and he averaged 18.3 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Tuttle also was a strong defender who averaged 2.2 steals and 1.1 blocks per game while setting an example for younger players with his hard work. He was at his best in a district semifinal win against HAC-III champion Mount Carmel, scoring 23 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, making seven steals and adding five assists.

Hill also can stuff the stat sheet and often did while helping Neumann put together and outstanding season. The sophomore guard took a big leap forward in his first full year starting, leading the Knights to 20 wins, a share of the Mid-Penn championship and the state tournament’s second round. If Hill makes the same year to year progress that he did this past season, moving forward he and Neumann could continue building on their winning tradition.

A Mid-Penn all-star, Hill averaged 20 points and 6.4 rebounds while increasing his assists and steals by good margins from his freshman season. Potent off the dribble, Hill also is a good shooter and constantly found a way to shred defenses geared toward containing him. He topped 30 points three times and had a career-high 35, along with 11 rebounds and four steals, in a 71-66 overtime win against NTL Tournament champion North Penn-Mansfield.

Hill’s selection makes it seven times in the last eight years that Neumann has produced at least one all-state player. Neumann, Loyalsock and Wellsboro have been among the district’s biggest winners this decade and have enhanced their programs’ reputations.

These three players are a major reason why.

Chris Masse may be reached by email at cmasse@sungazette.com. Follow him on Twitter at @docmasse.

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