WINGATE - State College completed its 2-20 regular season last Saturday with a loss at Hollidaysburg but decided to enter the District 6 Class AAAA playoffs anyway.
A week later, with the weight of a 20-loss season off their shoulders, the Little Lions looked as good as they have since they won last year's district title. State College scored 24 points in the first quarter en route to a 46-33 victory over the Golden Tigers in the quarterfinals at Bald Eagle Area High School.
"I hate to say it, but anytime we play State College in the playoffs, they always start that way," Hollidaysburg coach Mick Pentoney said. "They always seem to have older, more mature kids who come out and embrace their situation.
"I've seen it 100 times. It's State College. It happens when you come out of that town. They just know how to get the job done."
In the previous matchup, Hollidaysburg outscored State College, 22-7, in the first quarter. Saturday that script was almost completely reversed. The Little Lions made five 3-pointers and Bryce Williams had a one-handed dunk as State College jumped out to a 24-9 advantage after one quarter.
"It is truly a second season for us, and we came in 0-0," State College coach Drew Frank said. "I am hoping we can use this as a momentum builder. That was a very good basketball team we had to play against in the first round."
State College's Michael Beattie led all scorers with 18 points, and Williams added 11 points. Both players also had 10 rebounds each.
Hollidaysburg scored the first three points of the second quarter, but Jesse Ottaway missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity with 6:17 left in the quarter. Despite getting into the bonus so early in the half, Hollidaysburg only shot two free throws the rest of the quarter.
After the first quarter, neither team accomplished much.
The Golden Tigers trailed, 32-15, at halftime and never pulled closer than 12 points - which they did when David Snyder connected on a 3-pointer with 4 minutes to play in the third quarter.
Following Snyder's trey, State College's Tyler Hall made one of his own and Patrick Irwin scored on a tip-in to swell the Little Lions' lead back to 17.
Irwin's tip was one of 42 State College rebounds. Hollidaysburg had just 23, led by Jacob Holsopple's seven.
"They are bigger at almost every position," Pentoney said. "Their kids are bigger. We have some skilled kids, but they are older mentally and physically and took advantage of that."
State College will play top-seeded Mifflin County on Monday at Bald Eagle Area at 7:30 p.m. in the semifinals.
The Golden Tigers forced 25 turnovers total and had 16 in the second half, but failed to turn many of those into points.
"We said at halftime we have to take possessions away from them to get back into the game," Pentoney said. "We did that part, but we couldn't make shots. We got good shots, and I thought Ryan [Adams] played his guts out, but we couldn't get back into it."
Adams led the Golden Tigers, who finished the season 6-15, with 12 points.
Hollidaysburg had no seniors on its roster.
"The kids learned about the playoffs and how to get ready," Pentoney said. "Now they know the one-and-done mentality. It's a little different than playing AAU where you play three or four games a day. We have to be scrappy for our school. Hollidaysburg has always been that way.
"This has been a learning experience for these kids, and I think we're going to bring a wealth of confidence back for next year."
STATE COLLEGE (46): T. Hall 3 1-3 9, Cooper 3 1-3 9, Beattie 7 1-5 18, Williams 5 1-4 11, Irwin 1 0-2 2, M. Hall 0 0-0 0, Koudela 0 0-0 0, Caswell 0 0-0 0, McCann 0 0-0 0, Kubicki 0 0-0 0. Totals - 17 6-18 46.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (33): Sheetz 0 0-0 0, Adams 4 3-6 12, Mason 0 0-0 0, Holsopple 1 4-4 6, Snyder 2 1-2 7, Ottaway 1 0-1 2, Ruggery 0 0-0 0, Viduya 0 0-0 0. Totals - 10 8-13 33.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
State College24 8 8 6 - 46
Hollidaysburg9 6 8 10 - 33
3-point goals: State College 6 (T. Hall 2, Beattie 3, Cooper); Hollidaysburg 3 (Consiglio 2, Adams).
Records: State College (3-20); Hollidaysburg (6-15).
Officials: Sean Albright, Collin McGinnis, Jason Moschgat.