Note: This article originally appeared in the Mirror on Saturday, Jan. 29, 1972.
By Jim Lane
When Altoona nipped Bishop Guilfoyle, 67-65, on Bill Moore’s last-second tip-in a year ago, fans left Jaffa Mosque thinking they had seen one of the most incredible finishes ever.
Last night’s finish topped that one, at least as far as Bishop Guilfoyle rooters are concerned. In fact, few Hollywood scripts could have made it seem more like a fairy tale.
B.J. Brandimarte, who began his career at AAHS before transferring to BG in the spring of his sophomore year, fired in a 30-foot jumper with only three seconds to go to give the Marauders a heart-stopping 56-55 victory.
But, let’s set the picture first:
The score was tied at 54-all when Altoona’s Tom Bickel stole the ball from Pat McGeary and was fouled with eight seconds to play. Bickel canned the first free throw, but missed the second.
Frank Wiley snatched the rebound for BG and flipped a pass to Brandimarte on the wing. Brandimarte never hesitated. He dribbled a step or two past mid-court and let it fly.
There was no doubt when the ball left B.J.’s hand. It never even hit the iron on the way through. The ball dropped to the floor and the clock ran out while Altoona players frantically tried to signal for a timeout. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway because the Lions had used their fifth timeout before Bickel went to the foul line.
“It’s like a dream,’’ Brandimarte beamed in the jubilant BG locker room. “I thought it had a chance when I let it go. I had a good follow through,’’ he grinned.
Up and Down Season
It hasn’t exactly been Guilfoyle’s year. The Marauders have had their ups and downs under new head coach Tom McGee, but last night’s come-from-behind effort could give the club a shot in the arm.
And, it hasn’t exactly been Brandimarte’s year either. Used basically in a reserve role, B.J. had scored only 57 points in 14 games.
Brandimarte was cast in a reserve role again last night, but he contributed six key points. He sank two fouls early in the fourth period to tie the score at 44-all, then hit the biggest shot of his schoolboy career in the storybook finish.
McGee, who had just received the biggest win in his short coaching career, heaped praise on all his Marauders for battling back from a 12-point deficit in the third period.
“We just seemed to hit when we needed it,’’ McGee said. “I don’t know, but I think Wiley (Frank) and Rowan (Chris) did a good job on the boards. They were really hustling and enabled us to get second and third shots at different times.’’
Guilfoyle jumped out to an 8-2 lead before the Lions settled down. Robbie Carles got two buckets to knot the score at 8-all and the teams were still deadlocked, 16-apiece, at the close of the opening period. Pat Nagle collected eight points for the Lions in the first period while BG got eight from Pat McGeary and six from Steve Cordova.
Lions Take Lead
Carles scored three fielders in the first minute and a half of the second period to give Altoona a 22-16 advantage, but Guilfoyle bounced back and went on top 24-23, on two free throws by Guy Landolfi.
When Dave Bistline was saddled with his third personal foul, sophomore Mike Palazzi came off the bench and his hustling work ignited the Lions. Palazzi tallied seven points in the final two minutes to give the Maroons the upper hand at halftime, 32-28.
If the Lions had hit their free throws, they would have had a comfortable lead at intermission. As it was, the Maroons converted only 6 of 16 and had to settle for the four-point margin.
Altoona appeared to be on the road to victory early in the third quarter. Coach John Swogger’s lads hiked their lead to 12 points (41-29) with less than three minutes gone.
However, they couldn’t deliver the knockout punch. In fact, Guilfoyle battled back and put the Lions on the ropes with a 13-2 blitz that left the Maroons clinging to a one-point margin (43-42) after three quarters.
After Brandimarte tied the game, 44-all, with two free throws, the Lions went back on top on fielders by Nagle and Tom Colledge. With four minutes left, the Lions still led by four, 52-48.
BG on Top
Then, in a 30-second span, Wiley and Cordova hit fielders to deadlock the score. When Bistline missed a free throw, BG got possession and decided to hold the ball. They held it for almost a minute until Cordova popped in a long jumper to give his club a 54-52 lead.
Nagle’s layup tied the score at 54-all with 1:24 remaining. Again the Marauders went to ball control. They called timeout with 58 seconds left. When play resumed, the Lions double-teamed McGeary and Carles came up with a steal.
Now it was Altoona’s turn to work for the good shot. Nagle was fouled by Rowan with 20 seconds remaining, but the Altoona sophomore missed the free one.
Wiley got the rebound and BG called timeout to map more strategy. When the Marauders went back on the attack, the Lions again pressured McGeary with a double-team.
The rest is history. Bickel came up with the loose ball and was fouled by McGeary. Bickel hit the first free throw, missed the second. Then came Wiley’s rebound, his outlet pass to Brandimarte and, finally, B.J.’s long bomb which sent more than 3,000 fans into a frenzy.
Poor Foul Shooting
It was a tough pill for the Lions to swallow. They had been up by 12 early in the third period, but poor foul shooting, inconsistent rebounding and defensive lapses caused them to let victory slip away.
“We’ve lost so many games on mental lapses,’’ Swogger moaned in the silent Altoona dressing quarters. “Our rebounding was poor and you can’t win many games when you make only 13 of 28 fouls.’’
That’s what the Lions were at the charity stripe — 13 of 28. Guilfoyle canned 14 of 20 free ones. Both teams made 21 field goals. The Lions took 46 shots, two more than Guilfoyle. The Marauders had a 31-25 edge in rebounds.
Both teams entertain Pittsburgh City League schools next Tuesday. The Marauders (8-8) host Westinghouse at Pleasant Valley while the Lions (6-8) test Fifth Avenue at Jaffa Mosque.
The BG jayvees, coach by Bob Johnston, turned back Fred McConnell’s Mountain Lions by a 45-38 count in the prelim. Ed Stoehr collected 16 points for the winners while Mike Palazzi got the same number for the losers.
Altoona G F Tot.
Colledge 1 2-3 4
Nagle 6 0-3 12
Bistline 3 3-8 9
Bickel 2 2-5 6
Carles 6 2-2 14
McAleer 0 0-0 0
Palazzi 3 3-7 10
Totals 21 13-28 55
P. McGeary 6 5-7 17
Cordova 6 0-0 12
Wiley 2 1-2 5
Beauchamp 1 2-3 4
Bettwy 1 0-1 2
Rowan 2 1-2 5
Landolfi 1 3-3 5
Brandimarte 2 2-2 6
Totals 21 14-20 56
Altoona 16 16 11 12 — 55
Guilfoyle 16 12 14 14 — 56
Officials: Ed Plank, Whitey McCue.