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Altoona loses heartbreaker at buzzer

PITTSBURGH — Altoona and Allderdice have staged some classic basketball battles in the past, but none likely was more exciting than on Wednesday night.

For the Altoona boys, the outcome was equally disappointing.

Blake Haber’s 3-point shot at the final buzzer lifted Pittsburgh City League champion Allderdice to a 51-49 victory over District 6 champion Altoona in a PIAA District 6-8-10 Class 6A subregional semifinal at Brashear, sending the Mountain Lions to the sidelines for another season.

Allderdice will play District 10 champion McDowell in the subregional championship game on Friday night at a site and time to be determined.

“They’re really crushed right now,” first-year Altoona coach Jarrod Klausman said of his players, many of whom remained in the Mountain Lions locker room long after the completion of the game.

Haber’s game-winning shot came after the Altoona defense denied Allderdice leading scorer Tony Henderson a good look at the basket after the Dragons inbounded the ball after falling behind, 49-48, on Caleb Pierce’s basket for Altoona with 15 seconds left.

Henderson drove down the right side and tried to find an open lane, but wound up passing across the court to Sean Graves. But Altoona, as it did with Henderson, denied Graves from attempting a shot, and he quickly got the ball to Haber on the left wing.

“We stuffed them once and we stuffed them again,” Klausman said. “To force a third pass to a guy who was having an off-night, and for him to make such a dramatic shot like that, I can’t say anything negative at all. We battled to the end.”

Haber came in as Allderdice’s top 3-point shooter with more than 60 makes from behind the arc. But he had scored just three points on one from long range in the third quarter before draining the final shot.

“We were very fortunate to get that last shot off in time,” Allderdice coach Devin Crummie said. “We wanted to go with Henderson as our first option and maybe see if he could go to the hoop, but they jumped on him. Sean made a nice pass when they guarded him tough and luckily Blake found his stroke at the right time because he didn’t have a good night shooting it.”

Henderson’s 19 points led Allderdice (19-6), which made nine 3-point shots compared with just three for Altoona (11-13).

P.J. Charles led the Mountain Lions with 24 points and 14 rebounds.

“They’re a very impressive team,” said Crummie, the son of legendary former Pittsburgh Central Catholic coach Chuck Crummie. “They play in a hard league in the Mid-Penn Conference. Their record is very deceiving.”

The Mountain Lions played their first eight games without the 6-foot-4 Charles, one of six departing seniors on the team, because of an injury.

“Having him in their lineup changes things a lot,” Devin Crummie said.

Altoona trailed by as many as 12 points in the third quarter before rallying behind Charles, who scored 18 second-half points, 12 in the third quarter.

Klausman, an Altoona graduate who spent the past 11 seasons as an assistant at Hollidaysburg, called Charles the best player he’s ever coached.

And he showered his team as a whole with as many accolades as he could think of following such an emotional game.

“In the short eight months we’ve been doing this and being together, it’s amazing what these guys have done,” Klausman said, visibly shaken by his players’ emotions as their season abruptly came to a close.

“This is about those guys,” he said. “They’ve done quite a lot to revitalize this program and revitalize the city of Altoona with basketball. Our community is excited about it. To see the amount of students that came to the games this year is amazing. There’s a lot of interest in the program again.”

Klausman said everyone on the team “bought-in to everything I’ve talked about.

“Just for them to do that in a short time together, I would give one or two fingers to have them for more than one year,” he said. “To come over here, to have to drive two hours, and (Allderdice) came just a few miles from their school, what else can you ask for?”

ALTOONA (49): Futrell 3 1-2 7, Pierce 1 1-2 3, Crockett 4 0-0 9, Charles 11 2-4 24, Becker 2 0-1 6, Lawson 0 0-0 0. Totals — 21 4-9 49.

ALLDERDICE (51): Graves 2 0-0 5, Henderson 8 1-2 19, Jones 3 1-2 7, Haber 2 0-0 6, Mukogosi 2 0-0 6, Butcher 3 0-0 8, Honrnezes 0 0-0 0, Edmonds 0 0-0 0, Young 0 0-0 0. Totals — 20 2-4 51.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Altoona 8 13 16 12–49

Allderdice 15 13 13 10–51

3-point goals: Altoona 3 (Crockett, Becker 2); Allderdice 9 (Graves, Henderson 2, Haber 2, Mukogosi 2, Butcher 2).

Records: Altoona (11-13); Allderdice (19-6).

Officials: Tyler, O’Johnson, Ballard.

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