With less than two minutes to play in Wednesday night's Altoona-Kiski School game at the AAHS Fieldhouse, Greg Bearer banked in a 3-point shot from the top of the circle.
He instantly broke into a big smile, and with good reason.
It was that kind of night for Bearer, a Hollidaysburg product who enjoyed a happy homecoming by scoring 19 points as Kiski held on to trim the Mountain Lions, 58-52.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Altoona’s DeShae Lee drives on?Kiski School’s Greg Bearer.
"It was exciting, it was fun," Bearer said. "All of my family came. It was a fun experience."
Bearer grew up in Hollidaysburg and attended Bishop Guilfoyle schools from kindergarten through eighth grade.
"It was weird today, though," Bearer noted. "This was the first time Altoona wasn't like a big rivalry game, although I played a lot of games against them over the years."
Bearer said he had last night's game circled on his calendar in his dorm room and informed his teammates how much it meant to him.
"I've played against Altoona teams since 4th grade," Bearer said. "I knew everyone on the court today."
Bearer transferred to Hollidaysburg for his ninth grade year, then repeated his freshman year when he went to Kiski School in Saltsburg last year. He's now a sophomore at Kiski.
A 6-foot-5 shooting guard, Bearer nailed 6-of-14 shots from 3-point range last night. He also grabbed four rebounds and was credited with two steals and two assists.
"I've got to improve my ballhandling," said Bearer, whose goal is to play Division I basketball at Penn State. "I'm still working on my shot, too, because I know that's how I can help my team the most. Coach always says to take the open shot."
"Greg Bearer is going to be a fantastic player," Kiski coach Daryn Freedman said. "You can see he's a great shooter and he's becoming more of a complete player.
"He's as good of a shooter as we've seen," Freedman said. "He shoots the lights out. We want him to become a complete player and he's becoming that. You saw a little of that today and next year, when you see him, it'll be a whole other level."
While DeShea Lee was proving to be a one-man gang for Altoona - he scored 28 points - Bearer hit several key shots for Kiski. His trey gave the Cougars a 29-27 lead at the half, and his 3 gave the visitors a 37-28 lead midway through the third quarter.
Meanwhile, Lee contributed six points as the Lions used a 10-0 run to pull within a point, 39-38, after three periods. Brandon Lytle's conventional 3-point play brought the Lions to within 49-47 with 3:41 to play, but 7-footer Satchel Pierce's free throw and Bearer's trey gave Kiski a 53-47 lead with less than two minutes left and the Cougars held on down the stretch.
Altoona coach Paul Hasson noted that the Lions made only two 3-pointers - both by Matt Dry - while Kiski made eight - six by Bearer.
"When it was 50-47, we had some wide open 3s," Hasson said, shaking his head. "We had a third-quarter drought again the first couple minutes. Then we came on strong, but these guys are a tough team.
"I was proud of our effort, and we've got good things ahead of us," he said. "We've got to keep plugging away."
The Lions, now 7-7 and losers of three straight, host Hollidaysburg on Friday.
"Every time we play Altoona, it's a war," Freedman said. "They always come to play; they're tough and so well-coached.
"We escaped with a win," he said. "We play a lot of great teams, and those guys always give us a great game. It's always a lot of fun."
Kiski improved to 17-4 on the season.
KISKI (58): Pierce 3 4-6 10, Udezeh 3 0-3 6, Bearer 6 1-2 19, Lombardi 4 3-4 12, Poirier 2 0-0 4, Jacob 1 0-0 3, Rcehowski 0 0-0 0, Brown 0 0-0 0, Creighton 1 0-2 2, Persaud 0 2-2 2, Luptak 0 0-1 0. Totals - 20 10-20 58.
ALTOONA (52): Lee 11 6-8 28, Dry 2 1-2 7, Lytle 1 1-1 3, Acrie 0 0-0 0, Span 1 0-1 2, Givens 4 2-4 10, Berardinelli 0 0-0 0, Hill 0 0-0 0, Hancock 0 0-0 0, Samuel 1 0-0 2, Miller 0 0-0 0, Pope 0 0-0 0. Totals - 20 10-16 52.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Kiski14 15 10 19 - 58
Altoona14 13 11 14 - 52
3-point goals: Kiski 8 (Bearer 6, Lombardi, Jacob); Altoona 2 (Dry 2).
Records: Kiski (17-4); Altoona (7-7).
Officials: Fraker, Buchanan, Fountaine.
JV: Kiski 43-35. High scorer-Samuel, A, 8.