Season now over for Lions

By Stephen Flinn

For the Mirror

PITTSBURGH — Altoona played for a chance to advance to the state playoffs Friday night but was not able to overcome Taylor Allderdice’s relentless defense.

The Mountain Lions came close but fell, 50-39, as the Dragons pulled away in the fourth quarter to win the District 6-8-10 Class 6A second-place game at Obama Academy.

“Allderdice is a tough team. They’re athletic. They’ve been down this road before. They have seniors and juniors. They went to a state championship game last year,” Altoona coach Doug West said. “You have to compete and leave everything out there on the court for 32 minutes. We kept our effort up. Unfortunately, we just came up short.”

Both teams battled back and forth and traded one-point leads throughout the first quarter. Altoona (11-13) took an 11-10 lead late in the first, but Allderdice (18-8) took a lead at 14-11 at the end of the first. Mike Scharf fueled the Mountain Lions in the first quarter with seven points.

“We had a good first quarter,” West said. “I thought if we shared the ball and moved the ball, we would get our opportunities.”

Allderdice is known for defense, and the Dragons turned up the heat in the second quarter by forcing turnovers and keeping the Mountain Lions off the scoreboard. Altoona was held scoreless until Maceo Day hit a free throw with 2:51 left in the half, and the Lions trailed 24-12.

Altoona hit its first field goal of the second quarter with 1:05 left on a Conner Zerbee 12-foot baseline jumper. That cut the Dragons’ lead to 24-14. Tyler Petucci hit a jumper with 10 seconds left in the half and the Mountain Lions trailed by single digits for the first time in five minutes, but Tyler Williams scored on a 3-point play to give Allderdice a 27-16 lead at the break.

Allderdice scored 10 of its 13 points off turnovers in the second quarter and held Altoona to five points in the quarter to take a 27-16 lead at the break.

“I thought in the second quarter, (the Dragons) were up in us and caused some turnovers and we missed some passes,” West said. “We got a little sticky. We weren’t moving the ball. We had some mismatches and didn’t get the ball inside.”

The Mountain Lions bounced back though, and roared out of the locker room after the break. They tore off a 5-0 run on a Zerbee putback and a Scharf 3-pointer that cut the Dragons’ lead at six at 27-21, a minute into the third.

“I told the kids (at halftime) that they just had to compete. We didn’t take care of the ball and gave up a lot of easy run-outs in the second quarter. We weren’t able to execute our offense,” West said. “I think we go it to two, and taking a shot to tie the game, you have to find a way. If you missed a shot, you have to find a way to get a stop on the other end.”

When Scharf hit his 3-pointer with two minutes left in the third, the Mountain Lions trailed by one possession at 32-30. Javion Queen blocked an Allderdice shot on the next possession and Altoona broke for a potential game-tying basket at the other end.

However, Petucci’s mid-range jumper was blocked and it was the closest the Mountain Lions got in the second half. Bob Clifford hit a three-point play with five seconds left to give Allderdice a 37-30 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Altoona did not quit and made another run at the Dragons in the fourth quarter. Shawn Gibson hit a 3-pointer and Petucci hit a free throw to pull the Mountain Lions to within two possessions at 45-39 with two minutes left in the game.

Allderdice iced the game afterwards, though, with two steals and coast-to-coast layups on the next two possessions.

Scharf led Altoona with 17 points. Zerbee added 11. Jahi Ogbonna led Allderdice with 16 points.

Even though the Mountain Lions’ season is now over, West was pleased with the run at the end.

“I told the guys [after the game] when I took over the job, it was going to be a journey. It’s not a sprint. They had to get used to me. I had to get to know them. We finished the season with three strong wins,” West said. “As we progressed, we had some ups and some downs. You have to play the hand you’re dealt. If you gave it your all, but lose, you don’t feel bad at the end of the day .”

ALTOONA (39) Gibson 1 0-0 3, Scharf 7 0-0 17, Petucci 1 1-2 3, Zerbee 4 3-3 11, Queen 1 2-8 4, Day 0 1-2 1.

ALLDERDICE (50) Ogbonna 7 2-2 16, Todd 3 0-1 6, Blaufeld 5 0-0 10, Morris 0 1-2 1, Doswell 1 0-0 2, Williams 4 2-5 10, Clifford 2 1-1 5.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Altoona 11 5 14 9 – 39

Allderdice 14 13 10 13 – 50

3-point goals: Altoona 4 (Scharf 3, Gibson); Allderdice 0.

Records: Altoona (11-13); Allderdice (18-8)

Officials: Alex Boyden, Dom DeFransisis, Ralph Bowen

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