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Big Shots No. 5

B.J.'s bomb

March 12, 2008
The Altoona Mirror
This is the 16th in a 20-day series on the biggest shots in Blair County high school basketball over the last 50 years. The Mirror is counting down one per day until Sunday.

—Buck Frank

Player: B.J. Brandimarte, Bishop Guilfoyle

Opponent: Altoona

Date: Friday, Jan. 28, 1972

Site: Jaffa Mosque

Setting the scene: Altoona (6-7) and BG (7-8) were having sub-.500 seasons when they met for the sixth time ever before a capacity crowd of more than 3,000 fans. Key seniors for the Marauders included Pat McGeary, Steve Cordova and reserve Brandimarte. Each had transferred from Altoona to BG following their sophomore years.

The shot: Altoona’s Tom Bickel hit one of two free throws with eight seconds to go to put the Mountain Lions up 55-54. BG’s Frank Wiley rebounded the missed free throw and passed to Brandimarte on the wing. After taking a couple of dribbles past midcourt, Brandimarte flung a 30-foot shot with three seconds remaining. The ball swished through, and time expired in BG’s 56-55 win.

Mirror excerpt from Saturday, Jan. 29, 1972: There was no doubt when the ball left B.J.’s hand. It never even hit the iron on the way through. The ball dropped to the floor and the clock ran out while Altoona players frantically tried to signal for a timeout. — Jim Lane

(To view the entire original article from this game, go to


—Brandimarte wrote in an e-mail: “I wanted to drive the distance, but Tom Bickel shut off my drive. I wasn’t the best shooter on the floor that night — [Robbie] Carles and [Tom] Colledge for Altoona and my teammates McGeary and Cordova were better — but I had the longest range, and there was only time to shoot. So I pulled up from 30 feet and let the jump shot fly with perfect follow through and quiver. It felt good and looked even better.’’

—Wiley: “We had a pretty good team that year, but our record wasn’t great. That was a huge victory, beating our cross-town rival. It probably salvaged our season.’’

—Brandimarte: “I had shot that shot thousands of times from the middle of 50th Street to the basket that was on my garage.’’

Aftermath: While Altoona went on to an 18-9 year and won its fourth straight District 6-AAA title, BG, in Tom McGee’s only season as head coach, finished 11-13. Brandimarte is now living in Greenwood, S.C., and is a private wealth manager.

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