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Tigers finish strong

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Beating a solid PIAA Class 6A opponent this early in the seasonprovides a feather in the cap for the Hollidaysburg Golden Tigers basketball program.

Hollidaysburg enjoyed such a victory Wednesday night at the Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School gymnasium, clamping down on defense in a four-minute overtime session to outlast Hempfield of the WPIAL, 55-49.

While watching his team improve to 3-0, Hollidaysburg coach Brad Lear was happy with the Tigers’ strong finish.

“I’m not satisfied with the way that we played early on, but I was pleased with the way that we finished the game,” Lear said. “We’ve just got to keep getting better, and playing a game like this can show our program how it can fare against a WPIAL team — especially a good WPIAL team like the one that we played tonight.”

After the game went back and forth through four quarters of regulation, Hollidaysburg got the upper hand for good in the overtime session.

“We got off to a rough start, but we had a good defensive strategy, and we executed that well,” said Hollidaysburg senior forward Josh Holsopple, who led the Tigers with 17 points. “This is a good team win against a big WPIAL school. It gives us confidence that we can keep rolling.”

With the score tied, 45-45 entering overtime, Hollidaysburg senior guard Shane Gildea, who Lear credited for giving the Tigers “a spark” off the bench with his defense, free throws, and hustle, was fouled on a drive and hit two free throws to give Hollidaysburg a 47-45 lead.

Hempfield junior guard Christian Zilli, who scored a game-high 20 points, pulled the Spartans (4-2) into a 47-47 tie with a driving bucket, but Holsopple followed with a putback at the other end to give Hollidaysburg the lead back at 49-47.

After junior forward Rocco Grassi grabbed a rebound, Hollidaysburg senior forward Jaden Delerme was fouled with 1:17 left and converted both free throws to give the Tigers a 51-47 advantage.

Senior Marcus McCarthy got free for a lay-in bucket to pull Hempfield to within 51-49, and the Spartans got the ball back with a chance to tie when Delerme came up with a steal in the paint for Hollidaysburg.

Delerme then kick-started the Tigers’ running game, feeding Grassi for a key transition layup to put Hollidaysburg ahead, 53-49 with less than 40 seconds left.

“We had a good defensive strategy and tried our hardest to push the ball in transition,” Delerme said. “I was in the right place at the right time (on the steal), and Rocco did a great job running up the court.”

After Hempfield missed a field goal try, Delerme grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 22 seconds left. He made both free throws to put Hollidaysburg up by the final 55-49 margin.

“We were trying to switch all their screens,” Delerme said. “Coach (Lear) scouted a lot of their plays, so we knew what was coming.”

Hempfield wiped out deficits of 11-8 at the first-quarter pole, 24-17 at intermission, and 34-33 after three quarters to pull ahead, 38-35 on a spinning layup by junior Mike Hosni with about five minutes left in regulation. Hosni scored 10 points in the game.

Hollidaysburg scored the next six points — on a Grassi layup and four consecutive Holsopple free throws — to take a 41-38 lead with 3:37 left.

Zilli, who Lear praised as “very good, a heck of a player, somebody who really passes the eye test once the game starts,” made an inside bucket, was fouled, and converted the free throw to complete a 3-point play and tie the score, 41-41.

Sophomore forward Mitchell Kratzer converted a Delerme feed to put Hollidaysburg back ahead, 43-41, but McCarthy scored a lay-in for Hempfield to tie the game again, 43-43.

With 36 seconds left, Gildea came up with a rebound in the paint and was fouled, converting both free throws to give Hollidaysburg a 45-43 lead.

Hempfield called a timeout and forged a 45-45 tie on Zilli’s bank shot from the key with 20 seconds left that forced overtime.

Hempfield coach Bill Swan refused comment after the game, while Lear said that his team could take heart in the hard-fought victory. The Golden Tigers play Juniata Valley in the opening night of the Hollidaysburg Roundball Classic Friday.

“Defensively, we wanted to double down on their post players, and offensively, we wanted to get downhill and get to the basket and get to the free throw line,” Lear said of his team’s overtime strategy. “Right now, early in the season, is like a feeling-out process for teams. But I think that when we start clicking, we can be really, really good this year.”

HEMPFIELD (49): Hosni 4 1-2 10, McCarthy 2 1-2 5, Gaffney 3 2-5 9, Zilli 9 1-1 20, Remaley 1 0-0 2, Coletta 1 0-0 3, Suchko 0 0-0 0. Totals — 20 5-10 49.

HOLLIDAYSBURG (55): Delerme 0 5-8 5, Holsopple 4 6-6 17, McGinnis 1 0-0 2, Stevenson 1 0-0 2, M. Kratzer 4 1-4 9, Yeager 3 1-2 7, Grassi 3 0-0 6, Gildea 1 4-4 7, G. Kratzer 0 0-0 0. Totals — 17 17-24 55.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Hempfield 8 9 16 12 4 — 49

Hollidaysburg 11 13 10 11 10 — 55

3-point goals: Hempfield 4 (Zilli 2, Hosni, Coletta); Hollidaysburg 4 (Holsopple 3, Gildea).

Records: Hempfield (4-2); Hollidaysburg (3-0).

JV: Hempfield, 70-27. High scorers–Daniel Sierk, Hempfield, 14; Jack Naugle, Alan Wedell, Atticus Imoff, Ryan Stevenson, HOL, 6 apiece.

Officials: Chris Rickens, Sean Albright, Rich Gergely.

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