The Hollidaysburg Area High School girls basketball team hopes to extend the success it has experienced so far this season when the 12th annual Golden Tiger Roundball Classic unfolds Wednesday through Friday in the Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School gymnasium.
The Hollidaysburg boys, on the other hand, are hoping for a jump start.
The senior-laden Lady Tigers carry a 4-0 season record into their tournament opener against Bryn Mawr of Baltimore, Md. at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The much younger, more inexperienced Golden Tigers, hoping to improve on their 1-3 mark, tip off the tournament against Bishop McCort at 7 p.m. tonight.
The girls championship game is set for 6 p.m. Friday, with the boys championship game to follow at 7:30 p.m. that evening. Along with Hollidaysburg and Bishop McCort, the boys field includes Erie McDowell and Transit Tech of Brooklyn, N.Y. The Hollidaysburg girls will be joined by Forest Hills, Erie McDowell, and Bryn Mawr.
"It's a great atmosphere for high school basketball,'' Hollidaysburg boys coach Mick Pentoney said of the Roundball Classic. "The kids really get geared up for it. Our kids have always played well in this tournament, and we don't expect anything else from them this year. We hope this tournament brings out the best in us, and gives us a jolt of confidence.''
The Hollidaysburg girls don't need any such pick-me-up after opening the season with four straight wins, including victories over Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic in the championship game of the season-opening Marguerite Frederick Lady Marauder Classic Dec. 7-8 and a one-point thriller over Altoona last week on the road.
The Hollidaysburg girls are led by senior post Morgan Griffith, who has averaged 17 points per game and also leads the team in rebounds.
"Our kids are going to be excited to play in front of their home fans,'' Hollidaysburg girls coach Deanna Jubeck said. "That provides the extra incentive for the kids to come out and play solid games.''
Both the Hollidaysburg boys and girls made it to the championship game in last season's tournament before losing to high-profile teams. The Golden Tigers fell to West Virginia Class AAA state champ Hedgeville, 35-32 in the Roundball Classic title game a year ago, while the Lady Tigers were edged, 58-55 by Virginia state powerhouse Millbrook, which extended its consecutive winning streak to 59 games in last year's championship game.
This year's tournament should also feature some exciting match-ups.
"There is very good competition in this tournament,'' Jubeck said. "Erie McDowell has had a strong legacy, and Forest Hills returns a lot of kids and is playing very well right now. We will have to play solid games both times out.''
The Hollidaysburg boys, led by senior forward Zach Ottaway's 13 points per game, have been plagued by turnovers and other mistakes in their first four games, according to Pentoney.
"We're very inexperienced,'' Pentoney said. "We have only two returning players who played at all entering this season. We've been in all our games, which is a good thing. We just keep shooting ourselves in the foot with things like untimely turnovers and costly fouls. Nothing is going our way right now.''
Pentoney hopes that a turnaround could be in store for his team this week.
"If you can get some success, you can get some confidence,'' he said. "We're just not playing with a lot of confidence right now. We're not finishing close, pressure games.''