With its top two scorers out of the lineup with injuries Tuesday night, Altoona coach Paul Hasson knew he was going to need contributions from his supporting cast.
And David Simmons' cameo came just at the right time.
Simmons, a 5-foot-7 junior guard, came off the bench and knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in a 22-second span to ignite a second-quarter rally that lifted the Mountain Lions to a 41-28 victory over cross-town rival Hollidaysburg at the AAHS Fieldhouse.
Mirror photo by Gary M.?Baranec
Altoona’s Jermaine Samuel is guarded by the Tigers’?Dom Viduya Tuesday night.
"David Simmons hit two big 3's in the second quarter to give us a lift," Hasson said. "He's been playing well in JV and he's really confident right now."
Altoona is riding a three-game winning streak and closed out the regular season with an 11-11 mark. Hollidaysburg, on the other hand, is in the midst of a five-game losing skid and fell to 6-16 overall.
"We've got some guys hurt, but some other guys really came through," Hasson said. "It was an outstanding game for us going into the playoffs."
Simmons' two treys - one at the 6:31 mark of the second quarter and another with 6:09 on the clock - kick-started a 12-0 Altoona run.
Sophomore forward Kevin Givens chipped in four points and Tony Acrie's one-handed tip-in turned a tie game into a 20-8 lead for the Mountain Lions with 2:29 left before halftime. Hollidaysburg, which put just three points on the scoreboard in the second quarter, went scoreless for more than four and a half minutes during Altoona's second-quarter run before DeAndre Mason hit a free throw to stop the bleeding with 2:18 to go before halftime.
Altoona point guard Matt Dry controlled the tempo the rest of the half, connecting with Givens and Acrie on layups to send the Mountain Lions into the locker room with a 24-9 advantage.
"They just did an outstanding job in that second period," Hollidaysburg coach Mick Pentoney said of Altoona. "That little No. 12 [Simmons], his 3's are what really catapulted them in the second period. That definitely got them lit up. It was the X factor in a rivalry game, and [Simons] really stepped up for them."
Hollidaysburg opened the second half in a 2-3 zone that gave Altoona fits on the offensive end, holding the Mountain Lions to just two points in the third quarter.
"The biggest reason was that we tried to slow the pace down," Pentoney said of the 2-3 zone.
Zach Ottaway, who was held to just two points in the first half and was shut out in the fourth quarter, scored 10 of his team-high 12 points in the third and his two free throws with 59 seconds left in the period closed the gap to five, 26-21.
"He's a good shooter," said Givens, who was tasked with guarding the 6-foot-6 Ottaway. "It's tiring guarding him. He's a very good player."
Altoona responded with a strong fourth quarter and Hollidaysburg wouldn't get any closer the rest of the way. The Mountain Lions opened the final frame with a 9-0 run, with all nine points coming from Givens (5 points) and Dry (4), to take a commanding 35-21 lead with just over two minutes left in the game.
Dry, who finished in double figures with 10 points, was 8-of-10 from the free throw line in the final quarter, sinking his final six attempts to help seal the win.
"We took care of the ball, got to the foul line and made our foul shots," Hasson said.
The Mountain Lions played without senior guard DeShae Lee and junior forward Manny Span on Tuesday. Both Lee and Span, who account for 32 points per game, will be out of action for No. 3 seed Altoona's District 6-AAAA semifinal playoff game against second-seeded Central Mountain at Bald Eagle Area High School on Saturday.
"We play Central Mountain and that should be a real battle," Hasson said. "It's going to be a tough game."
Hollidaysburg, the No. 5 seed in the District 6-AAAA, plays a preliminary round game against fourth-seeded Mifflin County on Thursday at the Tyrone Area Middle School.
"We'll practice [today] and prepare to try and win a basketball game," Pentoney said. "Hopefully we can have one of those nights where we're hitting our shots."
Game Notes: Givens finished with a team-high 15 points and seven rebounds for the Mountain Lions Altoona swept the season-series against Hollidaysburg, 2-0 Shawn Barnes, who scored 10 points in the junior varsity game, banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Altoona squad to a 48-45 victory over Hollidaysburg.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (28): E. Miller 2 0-0 4, Urban 1 0-1 2, Mason 1 1-2 3, Z. Ottaway 4 2-2 12, Springer 0 0-0 0, Viduya 1 0-0 2, Consiglio 1 0-0 3, Ruggery 0 0-1 0, Adams 1 0-0 2. Totals - 11 3-6 28.
ALTOONA (41): Dry 1 8-11 10, Lytle 1 2-2 4, Givens 6 3-4 15, Samuel 0 0-0 0, Acrie 3 0-1 6, Simmons 2 0-0 6, Hancock 0 0-0 0, Wansley 0 0-0 0, Hill 0 0-0 0, Dammann 0 0-0 0. Totals - 13 13-18 41.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Hollidaysburg 6 3 12 7 - 28
Altoona 6 18 2 15 - 41
3-point goals: Hollidaysburg 3 (Z. Ottaway 2, Consiglio); Altoona 2 (Simmons 2).
Records: Hollidaysburg (6-16); Altoona (11-11).
JV: Altoona, 48-45. High scorers - David Simmons, A, 12; Jacob Holsopple, H, 10.
Officials: Steve Searer, John Thompson, Mike Andrews.