State College made 11 of its first 12 shots against Altoona Wednesday at the Altoona Area High School Fieldhouse.
The Little Lions also connected on their first five 3-pointers before Kyle Kanaskie missed a trey as the first quarter ended.
It turned out to be a bad omen for State College and a great one for the Mountain Lions.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Altoona’s Kevin Givens goes to the hoop during third quarter action against State College.
Altoona chipped away at a 19-point deficit before tying the game with 20.7 seconds to play on a pair of Brandon Lytle free throws. The Mountain Lions dominated overtime and picked up an important 71-63 victory over State College.
"I could see it in their eyes [after regulation ended]," Altoona coach Paul Hasson said. "The kids had battled so hard to get back into the game that I thought once we got into overtime, we could take over."
A major factor in Altoona (7-4) both tying the game and dominating overtime was the absence of State College's Bryan Sekunda. Sekunda scored a team-high 19 points before fouling out with 1:12 to play. State College led, 59-54, at the time of his fifth foul.
"He's a great player," Hasson said regarding Sekunda. "Any time a great player on the other team fouls out, it's going to help you. It did, but we had a couple guys who were in foul trouble, too."
Overall, the fouls went Altoona's way. The Mountain Lions were 24-of-31 from the foul line, and State College was just 2-for-3.
"The difference was points in the paint," State College coach Drew Frank said. "It was 31-3 at the free-throw line. Those are all points in the paint."
Kevin Givens and Manny Span were a major factor in Altoona taking over. Givens finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, and Span had a game-high 15 rebounds.
"We were getting an initial stop on their first look," Frank said. "Then Span was just there to clean it up. We couldn't keep him off the glass."
Altoona's play in the paint didn't become a factor until the second quarter, because State College didn't need to go into the paint to score early on. The Little Lions made nine 3-pointers, including six in the first half, and scored 29 first-quarter points.
"In the beginning of the game, they were hot," Lytle said. "I think this is the first time I've ever played against someone that came out shooting like that, but our team never gives up and never quits."
One of the reasons Altoona was able to stage a comeback was the play of Matt Dry, who scored a game-high 20 points. Dry tallied nine points in the first quarter to keep State College (9-3) from running the Mountain Lions out of the gym.
"In front of our home crowd, Matt tends to get excited," Altoona's DeShae Lee, who added 15 points, said. "When he gets the opportunity, he knocks down shots."
Dry scored seven of Altoona's 12 points in overtime.
"It's a huge win," Dry said. "It's our first win over State College in Coach Hasson's coaching career here, and Coach Hasson always preaches that we can have a good season or a great season, and I think we're on the right path to have a great season."
STATE COLLEGE (63): Sekunda 8 0-0 19, Kanaskie 7 2-2 18, Costa 7 0-1 17, Beattie 1 0-0 3, Williams 1 0-0 2, Scharly 0 0-0 0, Irwin 0 0-0 0, Karstetter 2 0-0 4, Shadle 0 0-0 0. Totals - 26 2-3 63.
ALTOONA (71): Lee 5 4-6 15, Dry 6 7-8 20, Lytle 1 6-8 9, Acrie 1 0-0 2, Span 1 3-4 5, Givens 6 2-3 14, Berardinelli 1 2-2 4, Hancock 1 0-0 2, Hill 0 0-0 0. Totals - 22 24-31 71.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
State College29 11 14 5 4 - 63
Altoona13 16 14 12 12 - 71
3-point goals: State College 9 (Sekunda 3, Costa 3, Kanaskie 2, Beattie); Altoona 3 (Lee, Dry, Lytle).
Records: State College (9-3); Altoona (7-4).
Officials: Sam Zambanini, Sean Albright, Dave Heim
JV: Altoona, 30-26. High scorers-Austin Pope, A, 11; Alex McCann, SC, 11.