WINGATE - Hollidaysburg coach Mick Pentoney screamed at his team to get after every loose ball just before the Golden Tigers took the court against Central Mountain in the District 6 Class AAAA playoffs at Bald Eagle Area High School Wednesday.
Perhaps Pentoney shouldn't have yelled so loud, because once the game started, it seemed as though the Wildcats heeded his advice more than Hollidaysburg.
Central Mountain surged ahead in the second quarter and held off a Hollidaysburg rally with hustle and tough rebounds in a 45-36 victory.
Photos for the Mirror by Christopher Shannon
Hollidaysburg’s Zach?Ottaway battles for a rebound during Wednesday’s loss.
"A ball was never rebounded higher than the bottom of the net," Pentoney said. "Mini-Me could have rebounded out there, so you have to hand it to them. They made sure they had four hands on the ball."
Despite coming into the game with an 8-13 record and the No. 5 seed, Hollidaysburg drew what seemed to be a good matchup against No. 4 seeded Central Mountain. The Golden Tigers had just beaten the Wildcats, 54-40, on Feb. 1.
Hollidaysburg picked up where it left off the last time it met Central Mountain by taking a 14-8 lead early, but the Wildcats' Cole Renninger nailed a jump shot at the end of the first quarter to close the gap to four. The momentum didn't stop there.
Renninger scored seven of his game-high 20 points in the second quarter, and Central Mountain took a five-point lead into the locker room.
"We showed a lot more effort tonight [than the first meeting with Hollidaysburg]," Central Mountain coach Scott Baker said. "The first time, Hollidaysburg was in the lane all night long. We kept them out of the lane, and they struggled shooting, which we were hoping they would do."
The Wildcats stretched their lead to 11 early in the fourth quarter, but Hollidaysburg fought back with its most impressive stretch of the night. Dan Nagle made a layup with just more than 6 minutes to play, Jordan Baum, who led Hollidaysburg with 12 points, made three free throws and Dylan Walters made a layup to cap a 7-0 run and pull the Golden Tigers within four with 5:02 to play.
Up to that point, Renninger had been held to one point in the second half, but after a Central Mountain timeout, the 6-foot-1 junior guard made a pair of baskets that put the game out of reach for Hollidaysburg. Central Mountain will take on top-seeded State College on Saturday.
"Cole is the heart and soul of the team," Baker said. "From an offensive standpoint, we ask him to do it all, and he's a great basketball player."
Hollidaysburg will graduate three of its five starters from Wednesday's game and five of the nine players who saw action in the game.
"We lost Jarrett [Shannon, to injury], and Matt Weirich, who was going to be a starter, never played a game with a broken bone in his foot," Pentoney said. "We had concussions. Some days, you just don't get the good cards; you don't get the breaks. That was tough."
Brian Urban, who connected on two first-half 3-pointers to keep Hollidaysburg in the game, and Zach Ottaway, a 6-foot-5 junior who scored eight points, will be among the biggest contributors returning next season.
"Our kids never quit, but we just couldn't get it going," Pentoney said. "We hope the underclassmen use these minutes and do something with them. They have a great opportunity to do something next year."
HOLLIDAYSBURG (36): Walters 3 1-2 7, Urban 2 0-0 6, Baum 4 3-4 12, Figart 0 1-2 1, Ottaway 4 0-1 8, Nagle 1 0-0 2, Viduya 0 0-0 0, Ford 0 0-0 0, Springer 0 0-0 0. Totals - 14 5-9 36.
CENTRAL MOUNTAIN (45): Blazina 0 0-1 0, Walker 1 0-0 2, Renninger 4 4-8 20, Everhart 4 1-2 10, Fisher 4 0-0 8, Dicello 2 0-0 5, Allen 0 0-1 0, Turchetta 0 0-0 0. Totals - 18 5-12 45.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Hollidaysburg14 5 8 9 - 36
Central Mountain10 14 10 11 - 45
3-point goals: Hollidaysburg 3 (Urban 2, Baum); Central Mountain 4 (Renninger 2, Everhart, Dicello).
Records: Hollidaysburg (8-14); Central Mountain (14-9).
Officials: Darrell Jones, Bill Correll, Tom Cunningham.