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Dragons too much for Tigers in their opener

01/25/21 Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski Central's Hunter Smith is cornered by Hollidaysburg's Jake McGinnis (left) and Bryce Martellacci.

MARTINSBURG — Central got a thoroughbred-like jump out of the gate Monday night in its non-league boys basketball matchup with archrival Hollidaysburg.

That fast start, coupled with a very balanced scoring attack, helped the Scarlet Dragons cruise to a 69-42 victory at the Central High School gymnasium.

Four players scored in double figures for Central, led by sophomore guard Eli Lingenfelter’s 16 points. Freshman forward Hunter Smith added 15 points, senior forward Hunter Klotz contributed 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, and junior forward Devon Boyles finished with 10 points for Central, which bolted out to a 14-0 lead at the outset of the game.

“We had four guys with 10 or more points, and as a coach, you love to see that,” Central coach Paul Frederick said. “And obviously, it was nice to start the game like that.”

Boyles opened the scoring on a putback, and Klotz drained a 3-point shot from the left side to give Central a 5-0 lead.

Smith, who scored nine of the game’s first 14 points, drove the key for a field goal, then gathered in a rebound, was fouled on his successful field goal shot, and converted the free throw to complete the 3-point play and give Central a 10-0 edge.

Smith then hit a jumper from the key, followed by another putback, to stake Central to its 14-0 edge.

“Hunter Smith was fantastic for us all night, but especially in the first half,” Frederick said of Smith, who scored 13 first-half points as Central led 17-3 after one quarter and went into halftime with a 30-18 lead.

Klotz — a three-sport standout who is going to Kent State on a Division I baseball scholarship — was happy with Central’s effort both offensively and defensively in the game.

“Hollidaysburg is always a good team that gives us good competition,” Klotz said. “It was real good for us to get out there and put up almost 70 points tonight. We’re also a good defensive team that takes pride in its defense, and I thought we showed up pretty well on the defensive end, too.”

Hollidaysburg, which was playing its first game of the season Monday, has faced more obstacles than most area basketball programs this winter. The Golden Tigers have had limited floor time because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and on Monday, they were playing without the services of standout junior forward Mitchell Kratzer.

Kratzer had recently attended school at Hollidaysburg with a classmate who tested positive for COVID, so Kratzer was unavailable for Monday’s game.

“Not having Mitchell Kratzer inside tonight was difficult for us, but if we wouldn’t have spotted them 14 right out of the gate, it might have been a different game,” Hollidaysburg coach Brad Lear said.

Lear is tasked with the challenge of replacing eight seniors who provided 50 points a game for Hollidaysburg last season. This year’s Golden Tigers are a much younger and inexperienced team, and Lear felt that they experienced some early nerves Monday.

“At different points in the game, we had five freshmen out on the floor,” Lear said. “We have four new starters on this year’s team, and I thought we might have been a little jittery at the beginning of the game tonight.”

Even so, Hollidaysburg battled gamely, cutting the Central lead to 25-18 late in the second quarter on two free throws by senior Atticus Imhoff, before Central scored the last five points of the first half.

Lingenfelter hit a jumper from the key, Klotz made one of two free throws after Hollidaysburg was whistled for a technical foul, and Boyles beat the buzzer with a jumper from the key to give Central its 30-18 halftime lead.

Central (2-2) carried the third quarter, 20-14, to widen the gap to 50-32 after three quarters. Lingenfelter, who scored six points in the third period, opened the quarter with a 3-pointer and Klotz, who scored seven third-quarter points, followed with a putback, capping off Central’s 10-point run that spanned from the end of the second quarter into the early part of the third and left the Dragons with a 35-18 cushion.

“Hollidaysburg was facing a lot of obstacles, but they deserve credit for competing hard and battling for 32 minutes, and I was happy with the way our kids played,” Frederick said.

Junior forward Jake McGinnis led the Tigers with 11 points and senior forward Rocco Grassi had a team-high nine rebounds.

Hollidaysburg visits archrival Altoona Thursday night, while Central begins a run of three straight road games this week, starting with a tipoff at Huntingdon Wednesday.

“This is a fun week,” Frederick said. “If we have to travel, we’ll travel. We’re just happy to be playing.”

HOLLIDAYSBURG (42): Martellacci 3 0-3 6, McGinnis 5 0-0 11, Grassi 2 0-1 5, Wedel 1 2-4 5, Imhoff 3 2-2 9, Holsopple 0 0-0 0, Goodman 0 0-0 0, Hileman 1 0-2 2, Kirsch 0 2-2 2, Walters 0 2-2 2. Totals — 15 8-15 42.

CENTRAL (69): Klotz 3 4-6 11, Boyles 4 2-3 10, Kling 1 0-0 2, Smith 7 1-1 15, Lingenfelter 6 3-3 16, Lowery 2 1-2 5, Brumbaugh 2 1-2 5, Bean 1 0-0 3, Daugherty 1 0-0 2, Rhule 0 0-0 0, Yingling 0 0-0 0, Butler 0 0-0 0. Totals — 27 12-17 69.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Hollidaysburg 3 15 14 10 — 42

Central 17 13 20 19 — 69

3-point goals: Hollidaysburg 4 (McGinnis, Grassi, Wedel, Imhoff); Central 3 (Klotz, Lingenfelter, Bean).

Records: Hollidaysburg (0-1); Central (2-2).

Officials: Clark Adelman, Randy Burket, Jack McDougal.

JV: Hollidaysburg, 31-23. High scorers–Jake Hileman, H, 8; Shalen Yingling, C, 7.

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