Coming off wins over District 6 rivals Hollidaysburg and State College, Altoona High coach Paul Hasson thought the Mountain Lions might not be on top of their game against Brashear Friday night, and he was right.
They were good enough, however, to turn back Brashear, 48-46, at the AAHS Fieldhouse. It was the fifth win in their last six games and hiked their record to 6-7.
"We'll take it," Hasson said. "We didn't play that well at times. We were kind of flat, but we just came off two big games, two rivalry games, two district games.
"We'll take it, anyway we can get it."
The Lions started slowly. Brashear jumped out to a 7-2 lead, held a 15-10 advantage after one quarter and led 19-12 early in the second before the Lions - Manny Span in particular - finally got going.
Span, the Lions' muscular pivot, dominated the inside game, getting five second-quarter field goals and 16 first-half points to give the hosts a 30-29 lead at intermission.
"We knew we'd have trouble with their big guys [Span and Tony Acrie]," Brashear coach Carey White said. "We're not big or deep."
"Manny carried us the first half," Hasson said. "He was really tough inside the first half, we got more balance the second half and we were able to overcome our turnovers.
"I thought Brashear played a great game," Hasson said. "They shot well, they were very patient and ran their offense. Give them a lot of credit. I thought they played a super game."
Span scored two big field goals in the fourth quarter to finish with a game-high 22 points.
"It wasn't a pretty win, but we did what we needed to do," Span said. "Coming off two good wins over Hollidaysburg and State College, we came out flat, but it's good to get the win."
Span's 22-point outburst included a 4-for-4 effort at the free-throw line. That was significant because Span has struggled at the line most of the season.
"I spent a lot of the day Thursday shooting foul shots," Span said. "I'm trying different things. It was all mental. Once you start missing, your mind's all messed up. I finally got in the groove at practice and it carried over into the game."
With Acrie and Jaret Berardinelli each scoring five points, Altoona led by as many as seven (40-33) in the third quarter. However, Brashear pulled to within one (42-41) after three.
After playing man defense most of the night, both teams switched to zones in the fourth quarter and scored only 11 points between them. Joe Love's putback brought the Bulls within 48-46 with 15 seconds left.
Brashear had the ball at midcourt with only eight seconds to go, but couldn't pull off the win.
"I think they had three team fouls left (actually, it was two) and we knew they were going to foul us anyway," White noted, "so we flashed Malik Petite to the top of the key and sent one of our better shooters (Isaiah Prentice) to the wing.
"He got a good look, but it just didn't go in."
Jermaine Samuel grabbed the rebound as time expired to seal the win for the Lions.
"Jermaine really came up with a big rebound at the end," Span said of his teammate.
The loss dropped Brashear to 2-10 on the season.
"We played a lot of tough exhibition games, but that's the way I like it," White said. "We want to play the best teams and that's why we like coming up here. It's well worth the trip."
Hasson was pleased the Lions were able to finish.
"We were able to get it done at the end. That's a big win. Good teams find a way to win and we found a way to win."
Game notes: Acrie had 11 rebounds, Span nine. ... Berardinelli had four assists. ... Samuel had four steals and four blocks. ... Today's game with Shaler was postponed due to impending poor weather. ... Lions visit Central Mountain on Monday.
BRASHEAR (46): Petite 5 2-2 13, Prentice 3 0-0 8, Wilkes 3 0-0 6, Love 3 0-0 6, Thomas 5 2-2 13, Murphy 0 0-0 0. Totals - 19 4-4 46.
ALTOONA (48): Span 9 4-4 22, Acrie 2 3-4 7, Samuel 2 2-2 7, Berardinelli 4 1-1 10, Kirwin 0 0-0 0, Simmons 1 0-0 2, Port 0 0-0 0. Totals - 18 10-11 48.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Brashear15 14 12 5 - 46
Altoona10 20 12 6 - 48
3-point goals: Brashear 4 (Prentice 2, Petite, Thomas); Altoona 2 (Samuel, Berardinelli).
Records: Brashear (2-10); Altoona (6-7).
JV: No game.