Petucci powers Altoona win

Tyler Petucci won the Cohen Blanket Award as Altoona Area High School’s most valuable football player for the 2017 season.

Friday night, he was the Mountain Lions’ most valuable basketball player.

Petucci scored a game-high 19 points, was a beast on the boards and played a solid floor game in leading Altoona to a 49-39 victory over county rival Hollidaysburg before a near-capacity crowd at the AAHS Fieldhouse.

“Tyler Petucci has played very well at home,” said Altoona coach Doug West. “He’s a warrior. He gets on the floor. He plays inside, even though he’s undersized. And, you can put the ball in his hands.

“I’ve appreciated his effort from Day 1,” West continued. “He’s a competitor. I wish I had 20 like him.”

Petucci, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior, is one of the school’s top all-around athletes.

“Football is what I like best,” said Petucci, a running back-linebacker. “I like basketball, too. I like to compete.”

He did a lot of competing on the hardwood Friday.

“It was pretty emotional the whole game,” Petucci said. “It was tough for us to get what we wanted and it was tough for them to get what they wanted.”

It was almost like old times at the fieldhouse — neighboring rivals going toe-to-toe before a big crowd that included loud student sections supporting both teams.

“It was definitely a defensive struggle,” said Petucci. “Both teams fought hard and it was very physical. We won the second half. That was our goal and we pulled it out.”

The game was not pretty. Actually, it was dominated by physical play that created poor shooting and questionable decisions by both teams.

Altoona led 6-4 in a loosely-played first quarter. The Mountain Lions led 18-10 late in the second before Tiger sophomore Josh Holsopple nailed a pair of 3-pointers to create an 18-18 tie at intermission.

“They were great individual plays that Josh made,” said Hollidaysburg coach Brad Lear, “but, overall, our offensive effort was very poor.

“We had more turnovers and were outrebounded, too,” Lear noted, “and, when you combine those things, you don’t win.”

Leading 31-30 after three quarters, Altoona was able to hold off Hollidaysburg by converting 11-of-20 free throws in the fourth. On the night, the Golden Tigers were whistled for 25 personal fouls (Altoona was called for 14) and the Mountain Lions were in the double bonus most of the fourth period.

Casey Ottaway’s jumper pulled the Tigers to within 43-38 with 1:29 left, but the Lions held on by converting six free throws down the stretch. Petucci scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half, many coming on putbacks and a 5-for-6 effort at the foul line.

“I tried to provide energy and use my toughness,” Petucci said. “This was a big win because we’ve been on a skid.

“The crowd was into it and that motivates me.”

Hollidaysburg again played without its two top scorers — Ethan Haupt and Sam Servello. Both are injured. Haupt was on crutches and Servello reportedly is out for the rest of the year.

“We’re very disappointed,” said Lear, whose Tigers are now 4-4. “Even without our two leading scorers, we thought we were the better team and came here expecting to win.

“We’ve got to play better.”

Only 4-6, Altoona now has wins over rivals Hollidaysburg and Bishop Guilfoyle.

“We’ve had a very tough schedule,” West noted. “We’ve done well in the two rivalry games. Even though Hollidaysburg was without two very good shooters, I knew it would be a tough game. It always is.

“And, the atmosphere tonight was awesome. That’s the way it should be on Friday nights.”

Game notes: Eight Altoona High grads who will be inducted into the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame in April were introduced at halftime. They included basketball player Tracey (Slogik) Biesecker, football player/coach/AD Vince Nedimyer, basketball player Curtis Miller, and Dan Restauri, who represented his brother, Jim, a three-time NCAA boxing champion. Also recognized were four members of the unbeaten 1962 AHS football team — Bob Fogle, Mel Frye, Tom Sanker and Tim Hudson. … Lions host Bishop McCort next Wednesday and travel to Johnstown on Friday. … Tigers host Central Cambria Tuesday and travel to Central Mountain Thursday.

HOLLIDAYSBURG (39): Viduya 1 0-0 3, Delerme 1 1-1 3, Day 2 2-4 6, Marks 5 0-0 10, Ottaway 2 0-3 4, Holsopple 4 0-2 12, Stevenson 0 0-0 0, Frucella 0 1-2 1. Totals — 15 4-12 39.

ALTOONA (49): Crownover 1 1-2 3, Burchfield 2 1-2 5, VonColln 1 1-2 4, Petucci 7 5-6 19, Queen 1 4-10 6, Cherry 2 3-6 8, Barry 1 1-2 4, Futrell 0 0-0 0. Totals — 1.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Hollidaysburg 4 14 12 9 — 39

Altoona 6 12 13 18 — 49

3-point goals: Hollidaysburg 5 (Holsopple 4, Viduya); Altoona 3 (VonColln, Cherry, Barry).

Officials: Ray Wotkowski, Dan Hamerein, Shawn Sinclair.

Records: Hollidaysburg (4-4); Altoona (4-6).

JV: Altoona, 54-35. High scorers–Robinson, A, 15; Burton, H, 12.

COMMENTS