After getting home late from a game in Williamsport Thursday, Altoona coach Paul Hasson was a "little concerned" about how the team would play at the start of Friday's game against Bishop McCort.
The Mountain Lions quickly put any worries to rest, jumping out to a big early lead on their way to a 67-52 win at the AAHS Fieldhouse.
"In the first quarter, we got the ball quickly up the court and got some easy baskets," Hasson said. "We played good defense, controlled the boards and got the lead. It was a good win."
Altoona's frontline of Manny Span, Tony Acrie and Jermaine Samuel dominated the game from start to finish. Span led the team with a double-double. The senior power forward scored a team-high 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
Acrie finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. Samuel added 12 points and five rebounds.
"Everyone was scoring and rebounding really well," Acrie said. "We'd get the rebound and outlet the ball. That's probably the best game we've ever had outletting the ball."
The Mountain Lions jumped out to an 13-3 lead and were up 20-5 by the end of the first quarter. Samuel started the game with a short jumper and Span followed with back-to-back layups, the first a putback of a Danny Kirwin miss and the second off an Acrie feed from the top of key.
"Manny and I have been working on that play since 10th grade and every summer," Acrie said. "I've probably thrown that pass to him 1,000 times."
Samuel scored twice on the break started by defensive rebounds from Acrie and Span, respectively. Span scored two more layups, and David Simmons drained a 3-pointer late in the period that gave Altoona a 15-point lead.
Bishop McCort's evening got off to a bad start even before reaching Altoona. The team bus broke down in Ebensburg, causing a 25-minute delay to the start of the varsity game.
"That threw us off some. We were out of sorts the whole first half, but that's no excuse. Span manhandled us," McCort coach Jerry Murphy said. "Crossing over the mountain is like the crossing the Mojave Desert for us sometimes. Weird things happen. I don't know what it is."
McCort's Nemo Trexler scored a game-high 30 points, but Altoona held the rest of the team to 22 points.
"He's tough. He's a good athlete, and he got hot," Hasson said.
Altoona maintained a 15-point edge at halftime before opening it up to 22 points in the latter part of the third quarter.
Span's putback of a Samuel missed 3-pointer made it a 47-25 game.
The Crushers pulled to within 61-50 late in the fourth quarter, but Samuel and Jaret Berardinelli converted two free throws each to seal the win.
"Manny was tough inside. Jermain played well. Everyone contributed," Hasson said. "Danny, Jaret, and David all had some rebounds and assists."
Simmons led the team with four assists. Berardinelli and Kirwin each added three assists, and Kirwin grabbed five rebounds.
The win moves Altoona back to .500 at 8-8 with four games to play in the regular season. Monday's game against Central Mountain is the team's final home game of the season.
BISHOP MCCORT (52): Ingram 0 0-0 0, Trexler 12 4-6 30, Neiderhiser 5 2-2 12, Rugg 1 0-2 2, Helsel 0 0-0 0, Conahan 4 0-0 8, Coleman 0 0-0 0, Deter 0 0-0 0, Eckenrod 0 0-0 0, Hall 0 0-0 0, Leech 0 0-0 0. Totals - 22 6-10 52.
ALTOONA (67): Berardinelli 1 2-2 5, Kirwin 1 0-0 2, Samuel 5 2-3 12, Acrie 7 1-2 16, Span 11 2-4 25, Simmons 2 0-0 5, Port 0 0-0 0, Gage 0 0-0 0, Eiman 1 0-0 2, Corl 0 0-0 0. Totals - 28 7-10 67.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop McCort5 14 13 20 - 52
Altoona20 14 17 16 - 67
3-point goals: Bishop McCort 2 (Trexler 2); Altoona 4 (Berardinelli, Acrie, Span, Simmons).
Records: Bishop McCort (13-5); Altoona (8-8).
JV: Bishop McCort, 41-37. High scorers-Conahan, BM, 12; Corl, A, 17.