Few area high school basketball coaches are more colorful or more quotable than Hollidaysburg's Mick Pentoney.
After his Golden Tigers suffered a 49-39 loss to Altoona on Monday night at the AAHS Fieldhouse, Pentoney said the Mountain Lions' size and strength was the difference in the game.
"We ended up in trench warfare with a team that has superior trench warfare, and that's not our game," Pentoney said.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Hollidaysburg’s Max Sheetz is rejected by Altoona’s Jaret Berardinelli.
It's definitely Altoona's game, though.
The Mountain Lions play most of the time with four players who are 6-foot-3 or taller. Three of them - 6-4 Manny Span, 6-3 Kevin Givens and 6-3 Tony Acrie - have the bodies of college football players while Jermaine Samuel, a lean 6-6, gives the team a long body at shooting guard to go along with 5-9 point guard Jaret Berardinelli.
"They did what we were afraid of," Pentoney noted. "They got the ball into their big kids. They took a lot of shots. I'm not sure what their field goal percentage was, but they made more than we did.
"We didn't shoot the "3" very well, either, and we have to live by that."
The Lions missed numerous layups, but they got many second and third chances, thanks to 35 rebounds. Span grabbed 14 rebounds and scored 12 points while Givens tallied eight and snared seven boards. Samuel retrieved six rebounds and blocked three shots while scoring 11 points.
"It wasn't pretty, but we'll take it," said Span, who made 5-of-6 free throws in the final two and a half minutes to keep the Tigers at bay.
"We knew it would be a hard rivalry," Span said. "We knew they couldn't match up with us inside, but we couldn't trade 2's for 3's so we practiced a lot on closing out and getting up into them."
Although the Tigers never lost touch, the Lions didn't trail after Givens' bucket gave the hosts a 4-2 lead. Altoona held quarter leads of 16-12, 27-21 and 37-30.
"I thought we did some good things," Altoona coach Paul Hasson said. "We just came off a tough tournament and had to play a big rival in our first home game.
"We had balanced scoring, three in double figures, and I liked that," Hasson said. "We took care of the basketball in the second half, which was key."
After 12 turnovers in the first half, the Lions lost the ball only twice in the second half.
"Our guards are young and inexperienced," Hasson said. "As they get better, we'll get better."
Pentoney also feels good about his young Tigers.
"There's a huge upside to this team," Pentoney said. "To lose by 10 here is not good for the community of Hollidaysburg, but I think they see some guys who will hang onto the bull as long as they can. I'm excited."
Game notes: Berardinelli led Altoona with 13 points while Nick Consiglio matched that for the Tigers. ... Before the game, a moment of silence was held for former Altoona player and coach Larry Betar, who passed away last month. ... Altoona distance runners Dominic Stroh and Brad Foust were recognized at halftime. Stroh won the District 6 cross country title while Foust won a medal at the state meet. ... Lions visit Allegany, Md. on Friday before hosting Shaler on Saturday afternoon. ... Tigers visit Somerset on Friday.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (39): Sheetz 2 0-2 5, Adams 2 2-3 6, Mason 1 0-0 2, Consiglio 5 0-0 13, Ottaway 2 0-0 4, Viduya 1 1-2 4, Holsopple 2 0-0 4, Ruggery 0 1-2 1, Snyder 0 0-0 0. Totals - 15 4-9 39.
ALTOONA (49): Acrie 1 2-3 5, Span 3 6-8 12, Berardinelli 5 2-4 13, Simmons 0 0-1 0, Samuel 3 4-7 11, Givens 4 0-0 8, Kirwin 0 0-0 0, Port 0 0-0 0, McGinley 0 0-0 0, Eiman 0 0-0 0. Totals - 16 14-23 49.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Hollidaysburg12 9 9 9 - 39
Altoona16 11 10 12 - 49
3-point goals: Hollidaysburg 5 (Consiglio 3, Sheetz, Viduya); Altoona 3 (Acrie, Berardinelli, Samuel).
Records: Hollidaysburg (1-2); Altoona (1-2).
Officials: Ray Wotkowski, Bill Correll, Denny Gramling.
JV: Altoona, 49-40. High scorers-Kevin Smith and Isiah Wansley, A, 9 each; Cory Storm, H, 16.