Doug West, who had an outstanding college career at Villanova University and then a successful run in the NBA for 12 years, hasn't forgotten his roots.
One of Altoona High's all-time greats, West, who also has coached on the college and pro levels, spoke to the current Mountain Lion team at a couple of recent practice sessions.
His words of advice certainly impressed senior Tony Acrie.
"Doug West came to practice the other day and he said people have to buy in to what the coaches are saying," Acrie said. "I felt like we really started to buy in today."
Acrie scored 18 points as the Mountain Lions snapped a four-game losing streak with a 55-41 win over Central Dauphin East at the AAHS Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon.
"Doug West talked a lot about effort and energy," Acrie said, "and I felt like I had a lot of energy tonight."
Acrie also had a lot of effort. Besides 18 points, Acrie grabbed a team-high 16 rebounds and dished out three assists. Not bad for a guy who had gone scoreless the past two games.
"It was nice to be back home," said Acrie, a 6-foot-3 senior who played inside Saturday after spending a lot of time in the backcourt early in the season.
"He really came up big," coach Paul Hasson said. "He had a double-double at halftime. I made him a guard and he's not a guard, so I feel like we're back to our roots with him inside."
Altoona bolted to a 10-0 lead as Danny Kirwin and Jermaine Samuel buried 3-pointers in the first minute followed by a pair of jumpers from Acrie. A pair of layups by Manny Span helped the Lions to a 14-7 first-quarter advantage and they never trailed.
Acrie contributed seven points in the second period while David Simmons and Jacob Port came off the bench for three each as the Lions hiked their lead to 28-17 at the half.
"Danny Kirwin played well for his first start and Jake Port really gave us a lift," Hasson said. "Jermaine Samuel, too. It was really a great team effort against a good team.
"We had balanced scoring, really rebounded well and held their defensive pressure for the most part."
Kirwin and Samuel, both juniors, each scored eight points while Port, a 6-3 sophomore, tallied seven as Altoona improved to 2-6.
"I felt like we finally played together as a team," Acrie said. "We had some people come off the bench and step up."
"What a great win this was for these kids," Hasson said. "We've been working hard and staying positive.
"We needed momentum, and that's the first step," noted Hasson, whose Lions begin a four-game road trip by visiting Johnstown on Monday.
Game notes: Junior starting forward Kevin Givens has left the team to concentrate on football, Hasson said. ... Lions had 13 team assists, but made only 8-of-24 free throws. ... Altoona coaches agreed West "was tremendous" in addressing the team. ... Dwight Whitlock scored 22 of CD East's 41 points. ... "He's one of the best players in the Mid-Penn," Hasson said. "He's tearing it up down there [Harrisburg]."
CENTRAL DAUPHIN EAST (41): Smith 0 0-0 0, Whitlock 9 2-3 22, Johnston 1 0-0 2, Lemelle 0 3-4 3, Murray 1 1-2 3, Edmonds 0 1-2 1, Biney 3 1-2 7, Henry 1 0-0 2, Yates 0 1-2 1. Totals - 15 9-15 41.
ALTOONA (55): Span 4 1-6 9, Acrie 8 1-4 18, Berardinelli 0 2-4 2, Samuel 2 2-4 8, Kirwin 3 0-2 8, Simmons 1 1-2 3, Port 3 1-2 7, Wamsley 0 0-0 0, Eiman 0 0-0 0. Totals - 21 8-24 55.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central Dauphin East7 10 12 12 - 41
Altoona14 14 15 12 - 55
3-point goals: Central Dauphin East 2 (Whitlock 2); Altoona 5 (Samuel 2, Kerwin 2, Acrie).
Officials: Jon Thompson, Jeff Heider, Bill Correll.
Records: Central Dauphin East (4-6); Altoona (2-6).
JV: Central Dauphin East won.