Tigers end tough stretch with satisfying win

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Back to Tiger basketball. Finally!

After a stretch of three consecutive losses that evened their record at 6-6, the Hollidaysburg Golden Tigers got back on the winning trail Wednesday with a 46-42 victory over Williamsport at the HAHS gym.

“We knew it was going to be a difficult stretch,” said Hollidaysburg coach Brad Lear, whose Tigers fell to Huntingdon, State College and Altoona over an eight-day span.

“We thought we could get two (wins) but we only got one,” Lear said of the four-game homestand.

After saying he was disappointed in the Tigers’ second-half performance in Tuesday’s loss to Altoona, Lear was happy the way his team performed most of the time Wednesday.

With Josh Holsopple scoring 10 points, the Tigers jumped out to a 17-7 lead in the first quarter. The visiting Millionaires used a pressure defense to pull within 17-14 early in the second quarter, but five Holsopple points gave the Tigers a 25-19 advantage at the half.

Jaden Delerme (six points) and a key bucket by sophomore reserve Rocco Grassi kept Hollidaysburg on top, 38-25, after three periods.

Williamsport’s pressure brought the Millionaires back into the game in the fourth, but the Tigers held on and survived. Billtown cut the lead to 42-37 before Holsopple, who finished with 20 points, hit a driving layup with 2:50 left.

A pair of free throws by Nassir Jones and a 3-pointer by Ethan Williams closed the gap to 44-39 with 1:42 to play.

The Millionaires missed several scoring opportunities and the Tigers played keep-away until Owen Batzel clinched it with two free throws with just 21 seconds remaining.

The Tigers achieved the win without top scorer Sam Servello, who was nursing a bad back. Servello missed most of last season but had played every game this season until Wednesday.

“It was a precautionary thing because he felt some discomfort today,” Lear said. “We talked in preseason about not playing him back-to-back (nights) so it was good to rest him and still get a win.”

Without Servello, Lear changed the starting lineup.

“We started Shane Gildea and gave Rocco Grassi some minutes off the bench,” Lear said. “I thought they both played well.

“Owen Batzel played well off the bench,” Lear continued. “He had been struggling at the foul line but hit those two big ones at the end. I was happy to see him get them.”

After falling behind early and then again in the fourth, Williamsport made a run with its pressure defense causing problems for the Tigers. However, the Millionaires couldn’t get over the hump.

“That’s the story of our season,” Williamsport coach Allen Taylor said. “A lot of our losses are by four, five or six points. Slow starts have killed us … Poor offensive execution and not playing with a sense of urgency on defense.

“We’ve shown some signs of promise and I’m hoping, at some point, we get it.”

Lear said the Tigers’ focus was to stop Marcus Simmons.

“He’s given us problems in the past,” Lear said.

Simmons was held to only five points. Isaac Ritter led the Billtowners with 11.

“That was back to Tiger basketball,” Lear said. “Shut down the big scorers and do enough on offense to win.”

The Tigers (7-6) visit Armstrong on Saturday.

WILLIAMSPORT (42): Ellzy 2 0-2 5, Jones 2 3-5 7, Simmons 2 0-2 5, Williams 2 0-0 5, Ritter 4 3-4 11, Nyman 1 0-0 3, Brown 3 0-0 6. Totals — 16 6-13 42.

HOLLIDAYSBURG (46): Delerme 4 2-2 10, Barton 1 0-0 2, Holsopple 8 1-1 20, Yeager 3 2-2 8, Gildea 0 1-3 1, Batzel 0 3-4 3, Kratzer 0 0-0 0, Grassi 1 0-0 2. Totals — 17 9-12 46.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Williamsport 7 12 6 17 — 42

Hollidaysburg 17 8 13 8 — 46

3-point goals: Williamsport 4 (Ellzy, Nyman, Simmons, Williams); Hollidaysburg 3 (Holsopple 3)

Officials: Sean Albright, Dave Heim, Robbie Keith.

Records: Williamsport (3-9); Hollidaysburg (7-6).

JV: Williamsport, 48-46. High scorer–Mitchell Kratzer, H, 13.

COMMENTS