The Altoona boys basketball team has played a lot of close games this season. Some have gone the Mountain Lions way. Others have not.
Monday's game against Mifflin County fell into the latter category as Altoona dropped to 8-10 with a 53-48 setback at the AAHS Fieldhouse.
With starters Deshae Lee and Brandon Lytle injured, Altoona fell behind the Huskies by 10 early in the second half. The Mountain Lions battled back and had a 48-47 lead with 1:20 to play, but Mifflin County scored the final six points of the game to pull out the win.
"The average score for our games is 57-56. We've been in tight games all year," Altoona coach Paul Hasson said. "In a close game, there's always a key moment or two. Give Mifflin County credit. They shot the ball well and beat us up the floor a couple times."
Manny Span led Altoona with a double-double. The junior forward scored 13 points and pulled down 16 rebounds. Kevin Givens added 12 points and eight rebounds.
Jeff Hancock delivered 11 points off the bench to help make up for the loss of Lee, who averages close to 18 points a game.
"We still had balance on offense. Jeff Hancock had a real nice game. When guys get hurt, you need somebody else to come in and step up," Hasson said.
Trailing 47-44 midway through the fourth quarter, Givens made two free throws with 3:46 remaining to pull Altoona within one point.
Span's follow of a Hancock miss put the Mountain Lions ahead 48-47 with 1:20 to play, but Seth Wagner's tip in on the ensuing possession put Mifflin County back in front.
The 6-foot-7 Wagner finished with a game-high 21 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots.
After Matt Dry's 3-point attempt rattled in and out, Givens looked to have the rebound under control and was headed towards the basket when a jump ball was called, giving possession to Mifflin County.
The Huskies sank four straight free throws to seal the win.
"Our guys kept their composure," Mifflin County coach Aaron Gingrich said. "We've been in numerous one or two possessions games this season."
Altoona outrebounded the Huskies 33-21 and scored 13 second chance points.
"We've outrebounded every opponent this year. We're averaging over 30 rebounds per game," Hasson said.
Mifflin County was able to overcome Altoona's advantage on the boards by committing a season-low eight turnovers. Point guard John-Michael MacLay had no turnovers.
"We took care of the ball. The pressure we've seen throughout the season in the Mid-Penn conference has helped us take better care of the ball," Gingrich said.
MIFFLIN COUNTY (53): Treaster 1 0-0 2, Wright 2 1-2 5, MacLay 0 4-4 4, C. Jerzerick 6 1-2 13, Wagner 8 4-5 21, Michaels 1 0-0 2, Seby 2 0-0 6, Koller 0 0-0 0, L. Jerzerick 0 0-0 0. Totals - 20 10-13 53.
ALTOONA (48): Dry 2 2-4 6, Hill 1 0-0 2, Givens 4 4-4 12, Acrie 2 0-0 4, Span 5 3-4 13, Hancock 4 0-0 11, Samuel 0 0-0 0. Totals - 18 9-12 48.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Mifflin County13 18 8 14 - 53
Altoona17 8 15 8 - 48
3-point goals: Mifflin County 3 (Seby 2, Wagner); Altoona 3 (Hancock 3).
Records: Mifflin County (8-11); Altoona (8-10).
JV: Mifflin County, 50-49. High scorers-Simmons, A, 18; Seby, MC, 23