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BG deserves homecourt edge, too

Perhaps the most interesting boys basketball game of the season in Blair County is set to be played Monday night.

The concern centers around how many people will actually get to watch it.

Altoona will visit Bishop Guilfoyle’s Pleasant Valley Gymnasium for the first time in four years, and with both teams playing well, tickets are hard to find — impossible, in fact, for some people.

Bishop Guilfoyle’s gym seats about 700, and BG sold around 600 tickets, including for its student section, which is positioned on a stage below one of the baskets.

According to Altoona athletics’ Twitter account, the school received just over 100 tickets.

Tickets were given to Mountain Lion players so that parents could attend, and the remaining allotment went on sale to AAHS students at 11 a.m. on Thursday.

The plan was that once students had the chance to buy tickets, they would be made available to the general public. However, Altoona students bought up the entire allotment.

“It’s an atmosphere that you look forward to being a part of, and, honestly, local basketball fans look forward to seeing this all year,” Altoona coach Jarrod Klausman said. “There’s a lot of buzz around the matchup, and people are looking forward to seeing the game.”

There has been some backlash on social media from both the public and Altoona’s official athletic Twitter account about the lack of available seating.

“A game that will draw this much excitement from the Altoona Community should be held in a facility that can hold all fans from our community,” Altoona athletics’ Twitter account posted. “The Field House has always been a great venue for large games. Schools with small gyms have the option to use a neutral site-Jaffa-campus-Mount. Go Mt. Lions!!”

Saint Francis freshman and BG graduate Luke Ruggery defended the Marauders’ right to host the game on Twitter.

“Last time Altoona came to BG was my freshman year … come play your ‘inferior competition’ in their gym just like we had to play in yours for the last 3 years. It’s called selling out a home game. This game has been scheduled for awhile now, if you didn’t get a ticket that’s too bad.”

Parents certainly deserve the right to see their kids’ games, but Bishop Guilfoyle also has a right to play the game in its own gym, and, as mentioned, Mountain Lion players were given tickets for family.

Altoona certainly was aware of the dimensions of the Pleasant Valley gymnasium when the game was scheduled.

The teams no longer play twice per season, and the Marauders have visited Altoona for the past three years, including twice in the Sheetz Tournament.

“For years, it was played home and away,” Bishop Guilfoyle coach Chris Drenning said. “Our seniors have never played Altoona at our place, and it’s important for them to get to experience that.”

For what it’s worth, the Mirror’s Neil Rudel checked in with Penn State Altoona on Thursday about the potential possibility of hosting the game.

PSU Altoona athletic director Brent Baird said the school would be open to hosting such games in the future, but that it was too short of notice for this year — not that the Marauders were interested.

It is unfortunate that many who may want to attend the game won’t be able, but that was also the case with both Bellwood-Antis matchups against Juniata Valley in girls basketball this season.

People suggested moving those games to the Jaffa Shrine and Juniata College, but both teams didn’t agree so the schools hosted them.

The gyms were packed, it was a great environment, and the games were also available both on the radio and YouTube for fans that didn’t get to the game. Monday’s game will also be on the radio on WRTA at 98.5 FM and 1240 AM.

When a game is scheduled, it is agreed upon by both schools. That means if it is going to be changed, both teams also need to agree.

For one school to imply another shouldn’t be hosting a game in its own gym when that school agreed to play there is wrong.

If the amount of seating is a problem now, it should have been then.

Michael Boytim can be reached at mboytim@altoonamirror.com and 946-7521

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