Boys deliver in final this time
Hollidaysburg’s Nick Viduya drove to the basket late in the district championship game against Central Mountain. The shot was blocked, but Casey Ottaway was there to grab the ball and put in a short jump shot.
It was one of numerous clutch plays several different Golden Tigers made in the fourth quarter to hold off CM and claim the gold medal that eluded them a year ago.
“Luckily, the ball ended up in Casey’s hands, and he was able to finish. When it got blocked, I knew it wasn’t a good idea, but it ended up working out,” Viduya said.
Hollidaysburg had the lead and the ball with less than one minute to play in the title game against Central Mountain this time a year ago, but watched it slip away.
The Golden Tigers sat in the same position as a year ago, aiming for a third win over CM following two regular season victories. They finished it out this time.
After Hollidaysburg took the lead early in the fourth, Central Mountain pulled to within one three times. All three times Hollidaysburg answered for a 62-55 win in the District 6 5A finals Saturday afternoon at Penn State Altoona’s Adler Arena.
“We wanted this a little more because last year didn’t sit well with us,” Hollidaysburg coach Brad Lear said. “Three of the starters off that team are here and celebrating with us.”
Hollidaysburg (16-7) led 30-27 at the half, but the Wildcats scored the first six points of the third to take their first lead of the game, 33-30.
CM outscored the Golden Tigers 12-7 in the quarter to take a two-point advantage to the fourth.
“We hurt ourselves at the end of the game last year. We’ve come a long way since then. Everyone stayed calm. I remember last year we were panicking when we were losing,” Viduya said. “When we went down at the beginning of the third, we got everyone close together and said we can do this. We got this. We can do the job.”
Ethan Haupt immediately erased the deficit with a 3-pointer on the first possession of the fourth.
“To me every shot’s a big shot,” Haupt said. “I just take it one play at a time. Get back on defense right away. Don’t celebrate. Keep my head in the game.”
Central Mountain’s Matt Storeman made 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game, 40-40, but Hollidaysburg answered with two straight buckets.
Mason Marks scored both times driving to the rim.
“There were a couple a times earlier I drove to the basket, and I was feeling really good about it. I saw the opportunity. The help defense wasn’t looking at me so I just went for it,” Marks said.
Ottaway bumped the lead back to four with a jump shot on Hollidaysburg’s next possession. Later in the quarter, Haupt scored driving through the middle of the Wildcats defense then set up Michael Day for a layup on the next possession.
After Ottaway’s putback of the Viduya shot that was blocked, Viduya drained four straight free throws for his only points of the game.
“I’m not a big point scorer. I run the offense,” Viduya said. “My time to get points at the end of the game coming down the stretch. One of my jobs is to put the ball in the hoop from the free throw line.”
Marks ended CM’s subsequent possession with a steal, and Haupt made it a three-possession game, 58-51, with a layup off a long pass from underneath the opposite basket.
Haupt finished with a game-high 21 points.
“He’s pretty steady,” Lear said. “They commented in their paper that they held standout Ethan Haupt to 10 points down there. I think he took that as a challenge. We use every bit of material we can to challenge the kids.”
Collin Stevenson’s two free throws with 16 seconds to go sewed up the title.
“Anytime you have that many players getting the ball it’s difficult because you can’t key on one guy,” CM coach Tyler Bardo said.
Marks scored in double digits as well with 10 points. He also had a team-high seven rebounds. Ottaway and Dominic Frucella tallied eight points apiece, and Stevenson added seven.
“There are so many kids that can play and can contribute on this team,” Lear said. “It’s almost by committee, and it doesn’t have to be all in the same game. One game we’ll have somebody have 10. One game we’ll have somebody have 12, and rarely is it the same two people.”
As district champs, Hollidaysburg qualify for the PIAA playoffs. The Golden Tigers play the District 8 champ or District 10 runner-up in the first round March 9 at a site and time to be determined.
Those two teams play in subregional game, with Hollidaysburg getting the winner.
Collin Jones led the Wildcats with 18 points. Storeman finished with 16, scoring on several acrobatic layups driving to the rim.
Central Mountain’s season ended with a 12-11 record.
CENTRAL MOUNTAIN (55): McCann 5 0-0 10, Jones 7 3-4 18, Storeman 7 2-3 16, Adair 0 0-0 0, Hanna 3 0-0 7, Lavelle 0 2-2 2, Pentz 0 0-0 0, Skrtich 0 0-0 0. Totals — 23 7-9 55.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (62): Viduya 0 4-4 4, Haupt 7 4-6 21, Day 1 0-0 2, Stevenson 2 3-3 7, Ottaway 4 0-0 8, Holsopple 1 0-0 2, Frucella 3 1-2 8, Marks 4 2-5 10, Delerme 0 0-0 0, Batzel 0 0-0 0, Stevenson 0 0-0 0, Barton 0 0-0 0, Chaney 0 0-0 0, Corey 0 0-0 0. Totals — 22 14-20 62.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central Mountain 10 17 12 16 — 55
Hollidaysburg 16 14 7 25 — 62
3-point goals: Central Mountain 2 (Jones, Hanna); Hollidaysburg 4 (Haupt 3, Frucella).
Records: Central Mountain (12-11); Hollidaysburg (16-7).