Consolation games usually aren't much fun, but the Altoona Mountain Lions took some satisfaction from beating Philadelphia West Catholic, 50-40, for third-place honors in the 2012 Altoona Area Holiday Basketball Tournament on Friday night at the AAHS Fieldhouse.
"I told the kids that the Philly kids didn't want to come all this way to lose twice," coach Paul Hasson said, "and I thought we matched their intensity and played well in a lot of areas."
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak and gave the Mountain Lions a winning record [5-3] for the month of December, the first time they achieved that success during Hasson's four-year tenure.
"It was a good team effort," Hasson said. "We had some balanced scoring and played good defense. Holding them to 40 [points], a [Philadelphia] city team that's used to putting up some numbers, was good.
"It was a big win for us because we had lost three in a row, and it gives us five for the month of December which was something we emphasized," he said. "Five of those eight games were on the road, too."
Hasson felt West Catholic played much better Friday than it did in a 30-point loss to Euclid, Ohio, on Thursday.
"They were much better tonight," Hasson said, "but we played solid quarters throughout. We held them to single digits in two quarters, which was big, especially in the fourth quarter."
The Lions actually saved their best play until the final minutes of the fourth quarter. After Torey Green's 3-pointer pulled West Catholic to within 41-40 with six minutes left, Altoona put its best foot forward and held the Burrs scoreless the rest of the way.
Jaret Berardinelli's trey hiked the Altoona lead to four [44-40] and Kevin Givens' layup made it 46-40. Free throws by Tony Acrie and DeShea Lee sealed the deal in the closing seconds.
"I was open," Berardinelli said. "I saw the shot and thought I could make it."
"Hey, we hit a couple of 3s," Hasson said, laughing, noting the Lions did not hit one from beyond the arc in a Thursday loss to Pine-Richland.
Lee and Manny Span were benched the first period last night for violating a team rule, according to Hasson. Span still finished with a team-high 13 points and Acrie had eight of his 10 in the first half.
"Berardinelli and Givens gave us a jolt," Hasson said, noting they replaced Lee and Span in the starting lineup. "Berardinelli has a lot of confidence in his game, and he handled the ball well down the stretch, too."
"This was a great turnaround," Berardinelli said of the victory. "It gave me a little more determination," he said of his start, "and I was able to help out the team.
"Everything always comes back to team play, though," the 5-foot-9 junior guard said. "We knew they'd be scrappy and we've been working on our ballhandling in the shootouts the last couple days."
Game notes: Pine-Richland won the boys championship by beating Euclid, Ohio, 57-54. ... Dean Steliotes of Pine-Richland was named the tourney's MVP. ... All-tourney team members included Altoona's Span, West Catholic's Anwar Epps, Euclid's Chavez Harper and Pine-Richland's Sam Dunsmore. ... Altoona returns to action Wednesday, Jan. 2 with a trip to Latrobe.
PHILADELPHIA WEST CATHOLIC (40): Muhammad 1 0-0 2, Epps 6 3-4 15, Green 6 0-0 13, Shepplard 3 0-0 6, Branch 1 0-0 2, Cosby 1 0-0 2, Calicat 0 0-0 0, Baysmore 0 0-0 0. Totals - 18 3-4 40.
ALTOONA (50): Acrie 4 2-2 10, Givens 1 2-6 4, Lytle 2 0-0 5, Berardinelli 2 0-0 6, Dry 1 0-2 2, Hill 0 0-0 0, Hancock 1 0-0 3, Miller 0 0-0 0, Lee 2 2-2 7, Span 6 1-1 13. Totals - 19 7-13 50.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
West Catholic17 6 10 7 - 40
Altoona15 15 9 11 - 50
3-point goals: West Catholic 1 (Green); Altoona 5 (Berardinelli 2, Lytle, Hancock, Lee).
Officials: Thompson, Searer, Heider.
Records: West Catholic (1-7); Altoona (5-3).