CRESSON - Mark Watson played most of his junior basketball season for Altoona Area High School, but he moved back to Johnstown for his senior year.
The Blair County all-stars sure could have used him on Friday night, though.
Watson was one of six Central PA players to score in double figures and also handed out a game-high eight assists as his team of District 6 and District 5 senior all-stars ran, shot and rebounded their way over Blair County, 110-77, in the nightcap of the seventh annual Altoona Mirror Basketball Classic at the Mount Aloysius College Health and Fitness Center.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Central PA’s Stewart Borst shakes hands with?Blair County’s Nathan Figart following Friday night’s game.
"They obviously were a lot more athletic as a team,'' said Altoona guard Danny Moyer, who tried to keep the Blair team in it by going 4-for-10 from 3-point ranged for a team-high 14 points.
It was the third straight win for the Central PA stars, giving them a 5-2 lead in the series. Dwight Andrews fronted Central PA with 18 points - many on spectacular dunk shots - to take home the Most Valuable Player honors for the regional stars, while Alkwan Williams, his Johnstown teammate, had 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go along with a game-high 12 rebounds, and Westmont Hilltop's Quentin Brandon fired in 14 points.
Central PA shot 46.5 percent from the field and outrebounded Blair County, 61-45.
"Basically, we just fed on the atmosphere,'' said Watson, who filled his statline with six rebounds and three steals. "We didn't have chemistry at first, but we found a way to make it work.''
It was only a seven-point game after the first quarter, but Central PA increased the margin to 22 by halftime after holding Blair County to 3-of-22 shooting in the second quarter. Central PA had five steals in the second period, while Andrews and Penns Valley's Sam Snyder came up with a couple of big blocked shots on apparent layups.
"It's not supposed to happen, but we played defense. That's the name of the game,'' Snyder said. "Personally, I'm a big competitor, so, if I lose, I don't like it a lot. Any chance I have to win, I want to win.''
Moyer felt a couple of Blair players who missed the game because of injuries might have helped his team weather the storm.
"It would have helped having Rafeeq Barnes, someone who is so athletic, and a good shooter like Jarrett Shannon,'' Moyer said.
Glendale forward Michael Wigfield did most of the offensive damage for Central PA over the pivotal 10 minutes, scoring six of his 11 points. He also finished the game with four steals and a block.
"I kind of deferred a little bit [offensively]. They [my teammates] were better shooters, so I decided to let them shoot outside, and I'd work my way inside a bit,'' Wigfield said. "It was probably decided about halfway through the third quarter, when we started to hit more of our outside shots, and they were still struggling with theirs.
"This was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it.''
State College's Cody Cooper rounded out the half-dozen Central PA players to score double digits, finishing with 10 points, while guards Ryan Lauer of Bishop Carroll and Stewart Borst of Juniata Valley netted eight and seven points, respectively.
Andrews, though, took home MVP honors for Central PA. He warmed up with a couple of alley-oop dunks from Watson and wowed the crowd with five more jams in the fourth quarter.
"It means a lot, because this is one of my last basketball games. I just wanted to go out with a good memory,'' said Andrews, who will be playing football in college, probably at St. Francis.
Tyrone's Richard Crabtree scored 12, and fellow Golden Eagle Steve Franco tossed in 11 points for Blair County, but Moyer took home the MVP trophy.
"It feels great. I figured it would come down to between Crabtree and me,'' Moyer said.
Watson said playing against a former Altoona teammate like Moyer didn't serve as any added motivation on Friday.
"We're friends and we hung out a lot. We had fun out there,'' Watson said. "This game brings back memories. I wish it hadn't gone so fast, though.''
CENTRAL PA (110): Lauer 3-6 0-0 8, Speigle 2-6 0-0 6, Andrews 9-19 0-0 18, Brandon 6-11 1-1 14, Wigfield 3-7 5-8 11, Watson 4-7 0-0 10, Borst 3-10 0-0 7, Snyder 2-6 0-0 4, Cooper 4-5 2-3 10, Uncapher 2-8 0-0 5, Williams 6-8 0-0 13, Stewart 2-6 0-0 4. Totals - 46-99 8-12 110.
BLAIR COUNTY (77): Franco 5-9 0-0 11, Crabtree 5-18 0-0 12, Walters 2-6 0-0 6, Wolfe 3-6 0-0 6, Figart 3-8 0-0 6, Moyer 5-14 4-10 14, Price 2-7 2-2 6, Baum 1-7 1-1 3, Ritchey 1-5 0-0 2, Irwin 1-6 0-0 2, Steffen 1-6 0-0 3, Myers 3-6 0-0 6. Totals - 32-98 3-3 77.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central PA24 23 29 34-110
Blair County17 8 27 77- 77
3-point goals: Central PA 10-33 (Lauer 2-5, Speigle 2-3, Andrews 0-3, Brandon 1-3, Wigfield 0-1, Watson 2-4, Borst 1-4, Snyder 0-1, Uncapher 1-4, Williams 1-2, Stewart 0-3); Blair County 10-45 (Franco 1-3, Crabtree 2-9, Walters 2-5, Wolfe 0-1, Figart 0-1, Moyer 4-10, Price 0-, Baum 0-4, Ritchey 0-3, Steffen 1-2). Rebounds: Central PA 61 (Williams 12); Blair County 45 (Figart, Myers 6 each). Assists: Central PA 20 (Watson 8); Blair County 13 (Myers 4). Total fouls: Central PA 2, Blair County 8.
Officials: Skip Dry, Bill Correll, Darrell Jones.