HOLLIDAYSBURG - Following the final horn, Zach Ottaway sprinted to midcourt and met his teammates with a hip bump.
Back in the locker room, the echoes of the blaring music could be heard on the other side of Hollidaysburg Area High School.
The Golden Tigers boys basketball team hasn't had much to celebrate this season, but Tuesday's 53-52 win over Latrobe erased those bad memories for at least one night.
"I love this group of kids, because they work so hard," Hollidaysburg coach Mick Pentoney said. "It is my common belief that if you work that hard, you should be getting good things, but we just can't get a break. Finally we got one against a really good basketball team."
Hollidaysburg, which improved to 4-10, trailed by as many as 12 in the third quarter and by seven heading into the fourth. Latrobe's Will Wears extended the lead to 45-36 with a steal and a layup early in the final quarter before Brian Urban nailed a 3-pointer and Eric Miller completed a three-point play on back-to-back possessions.
"They went into a zone, and I thought when we were up nine, if we could get one more basket, we could get them out of it," Latrobe coach Brad Wetzel said. "The reality was that it went down to six, then three, pretty quick."
Wears made a layup over Ottaway, who was playing less aggressive with four fouls, to put the Wildcats back up by five. Moments later, Dom Viduya, who was also playing with four fouls, made his third 3-pointer of the game with 3:40 left to make it a two-point game.
"It was critical [that Ottaway and Viduya stayed in the game]," Pentoney said. "Those are a pair of seniors who were being smart and knowing when to use their head and not foul guys inside but still make it tough on them. [Ottaway] gave up a few buckets, but he knew for him to be on the floor offensively for us was important."
Following a Jake Holsopple free throw, Ottaway made sticking around worth it.
The senior banked a 3-pointer in with 1:51 left to give the Golden Tigers their first lead since the first quarter. Ottaway finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.
"Zach can shoot 3's and post up," Pentoney said. "He can score a lot of different ways, but I thought they did a good job at getting to him. They kept him out of the post, but he came through there."
Two Urban free throws with 40.7 seconds left extended Hollidaysburg's lead to four, but Ben Havrilla hit a jumper on Latrobe's next possession before the Wildcats forced a turnover. Wears, who scored 16 points and had 16 rebounds, was fouled but missed the first free throw. Wears made the second to make it 53-52, and Urban missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity, giving Latrobe a final chance.
"We got the rebound and pushed it toward the basket," Wetzel said. "[Havrilla tried to get down the middle and had some difficulty doing that and settled for a 15-foot shot. We got the rebound with several seconds left, but the ball never came back up for the putback.
"Mike [Soforic] clearly got the ball with two hands, but the ball never came back up. I don't know how that happened, but it's unfortunate."
The scrum under the basket in the final seconds paled in comparison to the pile-up of Golden Tigers at midcourt following the game.
Urban led Hollidaysburg with 14 points, and Viduya added 11. Latrobe, which dropped to 9-8, was led by Soforic's 18 points.
"Dom made some big 3's for us tonight, Zach banked that 3-pointer and we just moved the ball better in the fourth quarter," Pentoney said. "It's been a struggle to get that offense moving this year, but we got some open shots there in the fourth."
LATROBE (52): Havrilla 3 4-4 10, Soforic 8 1-1 18, Cullen 0 1-2 1, Wears 7 2-6 16, Reeping 1 0-0 2, Dunlap 1 1-1 3, Kissell 1 0-0 2, Graytok 0 0-0 0. Totals - 21 9-14 52.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (53): Ottaway 5 2-4 13, Urban 5 2-3 14, Viduya 4 0-0 11, Miller 2 3-3 7, Springer 2 1-2 5, Consiglio 0 0-0 0, Mason 0 0-0 0, Holsopple 0 1-2 1, Adams 1 0-0 2, Ruggery 0 0-0 0. Totals - 19 9-14 53.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Latrobe17 9 15 11 - 52
Hollidaysburg10 13 11 19 - 53
3-point goals: Latrobe 1 (Soforic); Hollidaysburg 6 (Viduya 3, Urban 2, Ottaway).
Records: Latrobe (9-8); Hollidaysburg (4-10).
Officials: Gary Zimmerman, Ray Wotkowski, Dave Baronner
JV: Latrobe, 41-32. High scorers-Matt Dragan, L, 10; John Ciprich, H, 9.