HOLLIDAYSBURG - The Altoona boys basketball team's record of 4-7 after Friday's win over rival Hollidaysburg is certainly not awe-inspiring - unless you talk to Hollidaysburg coach Mick Pentoney.
"Altoona is the best team in the district," Pentoney said. "If they don't win the district, it's a great disgrace for them. They are loaded. My team was loaded one time. It doesn't always mean you're going to win, but they're the favorites. They have the best team in the district, and they should win."
The Mountain Lions improved to 3-0 against District 6 teams with a 44-30 win over the Tigers, who trailed by just one going into the fourth quarter before being outscored, 17-4, over the final 8 minutes.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Altoona’s Matt Eiman (left) and Jaret Berardinelli walk off the court in good spirits after winning Friday night.
Altoona completed a regular-season sweep of Hollidaysburg. The Lions won, 49-39, on Dec. 10 in Altoona.
"It's a great feeling to get this win," Altoona's Jaret Berardinelli said. "We were working on this game all week. We expected them to play their best game of the year against us. This is a tough place to play, but we pulled it together in the fourth quarter, and this is a huge victory."
Altoona's lone non-District 6 win came against Central Dauphin East.
"Our December schedule was brutal," Altoona coach Paul Hasson said. "We played some outstanding teams. In fact three of them are ranked in the top 15 in Quad-A in the state.
"We're battle-tested, and hopefully that will help us down the road."
The five teams competing in the District 6 Class AAAA boys division this year are all at least two games under .500. Mifflin County is 6-8, Hollidaysburg is 5-7, Altoona and Central Mountain are both 4-7, and defending district champion State College is 1-14.
The Little Lions have won five of the last six Class AAAA titles, and Altoona hasn't won a title since 2007.
"I don't know if we're the favorites," Berardinelli said. "We take every game as if we're even. We don't let ourselves get too high or too low, but we're looking forward to the district playoffs and getting better each game."
The Mountain Lions got better as Friday's game went on.
Hollidaysburg's Nick Consiglio connected on a 3-pointer in the final second of the third quarter to pull the Tigers within one, but Altoona got a layup from Manny Span and a 3-pointer of its own from Jermaine Samuel just more than a minute into the fourth quarter to go up six.
"They hit a couple shots and really fed off of it," Pentoney said. "In a rivalry game, if you get a shot like [Consiglio's 3-pointer] you can take off. We didn't sustain our momentum off of it.
"We got excited but had to sit for a minute in between quarters, and they got a couple baskets and fed off of it."
During the Mountain Lions' run in the fourth quarter, they took care of the ball much more than in the first half. Hollidaysburg forced 10 Altoona miscues in the first 16 minutes and just two in the final half. Meanwhile, 16 Hollidaysburg turnovers put the Tigers in a hole they could not dig out of.
"We played really strong defensively throughout the game," Hasson said. "We played well with the lead, and in past games we haven't done that. Our players really executed in the fourth quarter."
Tony Acrie led Altoona with 14 points, and Ryan?Adams was the only Golden Tiger to reach double figures with 10 points.
"Our goal is to try and have a winning season," Pentoney said. "If that means 12-10, that's great. If we can make some noise, we have all these guys back next year, and we're going to get better. We're moving toward success.
"Altoona has men right now. We're moving toward becoming young men, and I think we're going to get there."
ALTOONA (44): Berardinelli 1 2-2 5, Kirwin 0 0-0 0, Samuel 2 2-2 8, Acrie 5 3-4 14, Span 3 2-4 8, Simmons 3 1-2 9, Port 0 0-0 0, Eiman 0 0-0 0. Totals - 14 10-14 44.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (30): Sheetz 2 1-2 5, Adams 3 4-4 10, Mason 0 0-0 0, Consiglio 2 0-0 5, Ottaway 4 0-1 8, Holsopple 1 0-0 2, Snyder 0 0-0 0, Viduya 0 0-0 0, Storm 0 0-0 0. Totals - 11 5-7 30.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Altoona7 12 8 17 - 44
Hollidaysburg8 9 9 4 - 30
3-point goals: Altoona 6 (Samuel 2, Simmons 2, Acrie, Berardinelli); Hollidaysburg 1 (Consiglio).
Records: Altoona (4-7); Hollidaysburg (5-7).
Officials: Wes Sinclair, Greg Sipes, Doug Steve
JV: Altoona, 38-34. High scorers-Bobby Corl, A, 12; Cory Storm, H, 15.