HOLLIDAYSBURG - "Just like we drew it up," Altoona Area High School boys basketball coach Paul Hasson quipped.
"Don't forget, I get an assist on that," chimed in Altoona point guard Matt Dry.
There were smiles all around in the Mountain Lion camp Tuesday after Brandon Lytle's buzzer-beater gave Altoona a 42-40 comeback win over Hollidaysburg at the HAHS gym.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Altoona’s Brandon Lytle takes a one-handed shot during the second quarter Tuesday.
Asked if he'd like to see an instant replay of the finish, Hollidaysburg coach Mick Pentoney said: "No, no. It was close, but I think he got it off. I'm sure a lot of people ... [thought it wasn't good].
"We have a picture of him not getting it off," Pentoney continued. "It's frozen right on his hands at zero, but he never should have gotten the shot off."
With :10.2 seconds on the clock, and the score tied at 40-all, Altoona's Jaret Berardinell inbounded the ball in the backcourt to Dry, who proceeded to dribble into the lane.
Dry's runner came up empty, but the ball bounced off the glass and into the hands of Lytle, whose one-hander, from about 12 feet, found the net. An official near Lytle ruled the shot was good, and the ecstatic Lions stormed the court.
"We wanted to get the ball into [Dry's] hands," Hasson said. "Manny Span was to give a high ball screen for Matt to come off and hit either Berardinelli or Tony Acrie.
"Hollidaysburg defended it pretty well," Hasson continued, "so Matt took the shot, it went into Brandon's hands, and that was the end of it."
Lytle agreed that he was the last option on the play.
"I was supposed to crash the boards, and it ended up falling my way," Lytle said. "I didn't hear anything. I just grabbed it and put it in the air."
"I think it went off our rebounder's head," Pentoney said.
Regardless of how he wound up with it, Lytle became the hero in an instant.
"You've got to go by the buzzer, regardless of what the clock says," Pentoney said. "We won a game at the buzzer [Indiana Tournament opener] and we lost one at the buzzer tonight."
Hollidaysburg dominated the first half and led 23-14 at intermission, thanks to eight points from center Zach Ottaway.
"Give Hollidaysburg a lot of credit," Hasson said. "They played well the first half and we didn't."
It was a different story in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter. Eric Miller's bucket gave Hollidaysburg a 35-28 lead early in the fourth before the Mountain Lions started their comeback.
Lytle's 3-pointer started a 12-0 run [eight by Lytle] that gave Altoona the upper hand, 40-35, with 4:07 left. The Lions missed a couple of free throws, though, and the Tigers climbed back in it, tying the score at 40-all when Ottaway drilled a trey with 1:25 to go.
That set the stage for the wild finish.
"We came out in the second half and played our game," Hasson said. "We kept working hard and started controlling the boards and that turned the game.
"It seemed like they were getting loose balls the first half, but the second half went our way," he said.
Altoona's guards came up big, scoring and creating turnovers down the stretch. Lytle finished with 15 points and Dry had 11. Hasson also was pleased with contributions of his bench, particularly Jabril Hill and Kevin Givens.
"It was a great team effort" added Hasson, whose Lions improved to 3-0 and played their second game without leading scorer DeShea Lee.
"The first half was not us," Lytle said. "We couldn't get going. Our defense wasn't bad, but our offense couldn't get going. In the second half, we started getting turnovers and scoring off turnovers and that was the difference."
The Lions make their first home appearance Friday when Allegany of Cumberland, Md. invades the AAHS Fieldhouse.
Now 1-2, Hollidaysburg welcomes Brashear of the Pittsburgh City League on Friday.
"That's as well as we can play," Pentoney said of the Tigers' effort Tuesday. "Altoona is really good and we're still trying to find ourselves. We were just happy to be in position [to win] tonight."
ALTOONA (42): Dry 4 1-2 11, Acrie 1 0-0 2, Span 1 0-2 2, Berardinelli 2 1-3 6, Lytle 6 1-2 15, Hill 1 0-1 2, Givens 1 2-3 4, Pope 0 0-0 0, Hancock 0 0-0 0. Totals - 16 5-13 42.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (40): Miller 3 0-0 7, Urban 2 2-2 7, Ottaway 5 2-2 13, Viduya 0 0-0 0, Springer 3 3-4 9, Consiglio 0 0-0 0, Ruggery 1 0-0 2, Mason 1 0-0 2. Totals - 15 7-8 40.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Altoona6 8 14 14 - 42
Hollidaysburg12 11 10 7 - 40
3-point goals: Altoona 5 (Lytle 2, Dry 2, Berardinelli); Hollidaysburg 3 (Miller, Urban, Ottaway)
Officials: Tim Johnson, Denny Gramling, Anthony Breznick.
Records: Altoona (3-0); Hollidaysburg (1-2).
JV: Altoona, 32-24. High scorers-David Simmons, A, 12; Grant Delozier, H, 13.