For the first 3 1/2 minutes of the first quarter on Saturday night, the Altoona boys basketball team had everything clicking on defense.
The Mountain Lions held Gateway to just two points, and even led the Gators, 5-2. That all changed over the next five minutes.
The Gators managed to go on a 14-0 run that lasted into the second quarter as Gateway defeat Altoona, 42-27, on senior night at the Altoona Area High School Fieldhouse.
Gateway coach Mitch Adams wasn't surprised by the early struggles as the Gators played Fox Chapel the night before.
"We're a very tired team," Adams said. "I expected this, but give Altoona some credit, they played some defense, too. I saw the fatigue early, I subbed early to get kids in and out."
The Gators were playing without two starters who were held out for team reasons.
Adams was respectful of Altoona coach Paul Hasson.
"Paul is a great guy and great coach," he said. "We talked about doing the series again next year."
The Gators managed to clamp down on Altoona for three quarters as the Mountain Lions failed to yield more then 10 points.
"It helps our mental psyche," Adams said. "Any time you hold a team like that to less than 10 points [per quarter] you're doing pretty well."
Hasson considered turnovers to be what hurt his team the most.
"We started to turn the ball over during that 14-0 span," he said. "Their quickness and their trapping forced a lot of that on us."
Hasson was disappointed in his offensive effort.
"Offensively, we continue to struggle," he said. "Our main problem has been our lack of offensive firepower."
Altoona did muster a double-double from senior Rafeeq Barnes. Barnes managed to score 10 points while grabbing 10 rebounds.
"I just tried to make things happen," he said.
Barnes felt the early problems contributed to the loss.
"We didn't come out strong," he said. "We didn't play together. Every game we've lost we wait untll the half to make a comeback, and you can't do that against the teams we play."
Altoona managed to outscore Gateway, 22-19, in the second half.
Hasson had words of praise for the accomplishments of his seniors, but did keep in mind that there is still some basketball left to be played.
"The seniors have done a great job all year," he said. "I'm just proud of them. The season is not over. We're going to try to get things straightened out offensively, and you never know what will happen down the road."
Game notes: Manny Span left the game at 7:32 mark with a hip injury but did return to the game ... Altoona outrebounded Gateway, 33-30, and forced the Gators to turn the ball over 17 times, compared to the Mountain Lions nine turnovers ... The Mountain Lions will be off until Thursday when they start a three-game road trip beginning with Williamsport.
GATEWAY (42): Harris 4 1-3 9, Paolino 0 0-2 0, Shorr 0 0-0 0, Bell 0 0-0 0, Thomas 0 0-0 0, Wright 1 0-0 2, Boyce 7 0-0 14, Kochka 3 2-2 9, Kromka 4 0-0 8. Totals - 18 3-7 42.
ALTOONA (29): Dry 0 0-0 0, Barnes 3 4-4 10, Hall 0 0-0 0, Butts 2 0-0 5, Skelley 1 0-0 2, Lee 2 1-1 5, Lytle 0 0-1 0, Span 3 1-2 7, Acrie 0 0-0 0, Berdanelli 0 0-0 0. Totals - 11 6-8 29.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Gateway16 7 9 10 - 42
Altoona5 2 9 13 - 29
3-point goals: Gateway 1 (Kochka); Altoona 1 (Butts).
Records: Gateway (14-4); Altoona (5-14).
JV: Gateway 31-28. High scorers-Matt Shorr, Shomari Thomas, G, 11; Austin Pope, A, 9.