STATE COLLEGE — A dominant second quarter from State College High School put the game out of reach early for Altoona High School.
The Mountain Lions had the tempo and the shots to keep up, but an inability to guard some of the Little Lions’ veteran talent proved fatal.
Led by Brandon Clark, the Little Lions were able to build a lead and prevent a comeback in an 87-56 victory.
“We took it to the hole the whole time,” Clark, who recorded a game-high 18 points, said. “We didn’t really need to shoot 3s, but we did. We hit a lot of shots today.”
The Little Lions had minimal preparation for the visiting Mountain Lions. Due to the snow on Sunday, the team was unable to hold a practice.
Despite the setback, the Little Lions executed their game plan with ease.
“We knew what we wanted to do in terms of our game plan,” State College coach Joe Walker said. “It took a while for us to start implementing it.”
The first quarter was competitive, but Clark quickly emerged as the man that Altoona needed to stop. The senior, who plans on walking on to Penn State’s football team next year, scored the Little Lions’ first eight points.
“He’s a big kid out on the court,” Walker said of the 6-foot-4 senior. “He’s an energy guy. He doesn’t leave anything on the floor and he’s willing to risk his body for the team.”
Toward the end of the first quarter, State College was trying to grow its slim lead. Both teams were scoring at a high clip, and the Mountain Lions were only down, 15-14. Soon thereafter, things started to get out of hand for Altoona.
“Going in there knowing that they’re 18-1 and playing very well at the moment, it was a rough night,” Altoona coach Doug West said. “Their defense, from the beginning, they got after us and picked us up 94 feet and were able to get some turnovers.
“After the first quarter we were only down six, and by halftime we were down 20.”
Sparked by a dunk from Clark, which he had used throughout the season to elevate his team’s energy, the Little Lions took over. The Mountain Lions entered a devastating scoring drought.
Drew Friberg, who finished with 13 points, fueled State College’s initial offensive surge and Altoona’s offense had no answers. The junior scored consecutive 3-pointers to put the Little Lions in the driver’s seat.
At the midway of the second quarter, the Mountain Lions were able to break the drought from the free throw line. By then, the Little Lions built their lead to 39-17.
Altoona took a 28-point deficit into the halftime break. The second quarter undid the Lions.
But the Mountain Lions didn’t roll over in the second half. Jayvion Queen made number of quality maneuvers in the paint to spark some offense for the visiting team.
The 19-1 Little Lions have a lot of momentum heading into their final stretch of games. Altoona, which is 5-12 after Monday night, have a couple of chances left to improve their record before the season’s end.
“They’re playing at another level right now that I would love our team to be at, but we’re not there,” West said. “They just sped us up, and we missed shots. Both their point guards are extremely good, very good pressure on the ball. I thought they were fast on film, but they were faster in person.”
ALTOONA (56): Futrell 0 1-2 1, Carter 0 1-2 1, Crockett 2 0-0 5, Crownover 5 0-2 12, Burchfield 0 1-2 1, Charles 3 0-0 6, Robinson 1 0-0 2, VonColln 5 0-1 13, Petucci 3 0-0 7, Queen 4 0-2 8. Totals — 16 3-11 56.
STATE COLLEGE (87): Ellis 2 5-6 9, J. Friberg 3 0-0 7, McNulty 4 0-0 10, T. Friburg 4 4-4 12, Benner 3 2-2 8, Shaffer 2 0-0 6, Villarouel 2 0-2 4, D. Friberg 5 0-0 13, Clark 7 3-8 18, Mobley 0 0-0 0, Kile 0 0-0 0, Lusk 0 0-0 0. Totals — 32 14-22 87.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Altoona 17 5 20 14 — 56
State College 25 25 23 14 — 87
3-point goals: Altoona 7 (Crockett, Crownover 2, VonColln 3, Petucci); State College 9 (J. Friberg, McNulty 2, Shaffer 2, Friberg 3, Clark).
Records: Altoona (5-12)
JV: Altoona, 57-38.