HOLLIDAYSBURG -Hollidaysburg boys basketball coach Mick Pentoney found himself thanking God even after Saturday afternoon's 44-31 loss to Gateway at the Hollidaysburg Area Senior High gymnasium.
Pentoney was glad Gateway's Luke Kochka, who scored 29 points, slowed down in the second half.
"[Kochka] is an exceptional shooter," Pentoney said. "He has been starting for them forever, and he was definitely feeling it. We just didn't recognize it.
Thank God he pulled off a little bit. He was the one keeping their head above water."
Kochka scored 21 points in the first half, including scoring 11 straight in the first quarter. Nine of the 11 were scored on 3s. Kochka hit five 3-pointers total.
"We had a bad week this week," Gators coach Mitch Adams said. "We dropped two games. We had a kid injured here, Tyler Scott, and Barnett Harris didn't play, and a couple other kids didn't play.
"We got Luke Kochka to step up. Luke Kochka played his buns off tonight. He is getting better and better everyday. I really like where he is developing to, and he has been a pleasant surprise for us."
Gateway scored 21 points in the first quarter and then added 10 in the second quarter.
Hollidaysburg (8-11) was able to slow down Gateway in the second half, giving up 13 points while scoring 13.
"They are so athletic that if you try to play faster, they get their hands on a lot of balls," Pentoney said. "Our objective was to try to take care of the ball, try to get good shots and hope that they went in. They just didn't. That was the biggest thing. The second thing is if you take the air out of them a little bit, they lose their shooting rhythm.
"[Kochka] didn't hit as many, but they do a great job. Scott didn't play in the second half. Obviously, that helped us but overall our effort was there, but we couldn't get some shots to match them. They made it a [3-pointer] game, and it is difficult to match somebody."
Scott did not play in the second half after an injury and only scored two points in the first half.
"Tyler makes a lot of things go, and he sees the floor very well," Adams said. "Without him in there, it slows us down a little bit."
The loss came on the Tigers' senior day. Dan Nagle, a senior, led Hollidaysburg with 13 points and was the only Tiger in double figures.
"I thought our team stepped up on defense," Nagle said. "I thought we held a very good team in the low points. I couldn't be happier with a senior night performance."
Nagle went 7-for-8 from the line.
"That is definitely something I have worked on," Nagle said. "During the season, I went out and practiced on those free throws."
GATEWAY (44): Paolino 1 0-0 2, Shorr 1 2-7 5, Scott 1 0-0 2, Hartnett 0 0-0 0, Bell 0 0-0 0, York 0 0-0 0, Thomas 0 0-2 0, Wright 0 0-0 0, Boyce 2 0-0 4, Kochka 10 4-6 29, Kromka 1 0-0 2 . Totals - 15 6-15 44.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (31): Walters 2 0-2 5, Baum 1 0-0 2, Ford 0 0-0 0, Figart 2 0-0 4, Nagle 3 7-8 13, Urban 1 0-0 2, Ottaway 2 0-0 5, Miller 0 0-0 0, Viduya 0 0-0 0, Springer 0 0-0 0. Totals - 11 7-10 31 .
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Gateway21 10 6 7 - 44
Hollidaysburg13 5 6 7 - 31
3-point goals: Gateway 6 (Shorr, Kochka 5); Hollidaysburg 2 (Walters, Ottaway).
Records: Gateway (16-6); Hollidaysburg (8-11).
JV: Gateway, 41-23. High scorers-Shorr, G, 16; Viduya, Springer, H, 8.