The battle between Altoona and Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic Wednesday night proved to be entertaining both on and off the court at the Pleasant Valley Gymnasium.
The Mountain Lions continued their recent surge with a 64-59 triumph that sent the Marauders to their third straight defeat while the student sections traded chants back and forth.
"This was a big game," Altoona forward Tony Acrie said. "It's really hard to win in this gym. We worked all summer. We worked from 10th grade to 12th grade every summer for this. We are in the gym at 6 in the morning and have been working really hard."
Photo for the Mirror by Frank Grande
Manny Span, who scored 14 points, puts up a jumper for Altoona.
Altoona overcame a six-point halftime deficit by outscoring and out-muscling Bishop Guilfoyle. Acrie finished with 12 rebounds, Manny Span added 11 and the Mountain Lions beat BG on the boards, 40-26.
"They are huge inside, and that's a problem," Bishop Guilfoyle coach Chris Drenning said. "Span is a terrific player, and we just don't have an answer for him. Our big kids work really hard, and we've been playing big kids all year with our schedule, but there's no one as thick and wide as him.
"He's a really talented player, and we had trouble guarding him."
Span scored 14 points, and Acrie led all scorers with 18 points.
Owen Wolf made a free throw with 1:55 to play that cut Altoona's lead to 52-48, but Acrie and Span scored on layups in back-to-back possessions to put the game out of reach.
"We had the size advantage, but [Span and Acrie] have done that against teams bigger than us," Altoona coach Paul Hasson said. "Those are two tough kids inside, and our guards got them the ball."
As the final seconds ticked off the clock and Bishop Guilfoyle was forced to foul to extend the game, the boisterous student sections began to go at it. The Altoona students, dressed in togas, chanted "scoreboard" and BG students, dressed in all black for a 'black out,' responded with "Where is Franco?" chants referring to Altoona football coach John Franco. The Mountain Lion fans responded with 'He's right there' as a smiling Franco, sitting in the front row across the gym, waved to the crowd.
The students weren't the only ones into the rivalry game.
Hasson was hit with a technical foul with 3:36 left in the second quarter. Sam McCloskey made one of two free throws to put the Marauders up six.
Altoona's Jermaine Samuel opened the second half with a 3-pointer that began a 7-0 Mountain Lion run to give Altoona its first lead since early in the first quarter. C.J. Fulare, who led Bishop Guilfoyle with 17 points, scored four straight to put the Marauders back ahead, but Altoona ended the quarter on a 10-3 run and never trailed again.
Eight of the 10 points came from David Simmons, who saw significant time off the bench with Samuel in foul trouble most of the night.
"David has done that all year," Hasson said. "He comes off the bench, he's comfortable with that. We got into some foul trouble, and he came through for us."
Altoona (10-8) will travel to Mifflin County for a regular season game Tuesday while BG completed its regular season at 17-5 and will play Williamsburg in the quarterfinals of the District 6 Class A playoffs next Thursday or Friday.
The Marauders have lost to Bishop McCort, Bishop Carroll and Altoona over the past week.
"Last year we had lost some games going into the playoffs and won a district title," Drenning said. "I don't think there's any carryover. We have played 22 games, and three of them were against Class A competition. Two of those games were against the third-ranked team in the state [Bishop Carroll].
"We're playing great competition, and it's going to make us better and get us ready for the playoffs."
ALTOONA (64): Kirwin 2 1-4 6, Samuel 3 0-0 8, Berardinelli 0 5-6 5, Acrie 8 1-3 18, Span 4 6-8 14, Simmons 4 1-1 9, Port 1 0-0 2, Eiman 0 0-0 0, Gage 0 0-0 0. Totals - 22 14-22 64.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (59): Wolf 2 1-2 5, McCloskey 3 1-2 8, Rickens 3 4-7 13, Fulare 6 3-3 17, Chadbourn 4 0-1 9, Little 0 3-4 3, Gormley 2 0-0 4, Kasun 0 0-0 0, Fury 0 0-0 0. Totals - 20 12-19 59.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Altoona10 17 17 20 - 64
Bishop Guilfoyle17 16 7 19 - 59
3-point goals: Altoona 6 (Samuel 2, Simmons 2, Acrie, Kirwin); Bishop Guilfoyle 7 (Rickens 3, Fulare 2, McCloskey, Chadbourn).
Records: Altoona (10-8); Bishop Guilfoyle (17-5).
Officials: Steve Searer, John Thompson, Jeff Heider
JV: Bishop Guilfoyle, 47-44. High scorers-Bobby Corl, A, 21; Nick Miller, BG, 11.