HOLLIDAYSBURG - It wasn't the best-played game. It was entertaining and enjoyable, though.
In fact, many fans broke into a chorus of "Sweet Caroline" when the popular song was played during a timeout in the third overtime.
That's right - the third overtime.
In triple overtime Friday night at the Hollidaysburg Area High School gym, the Golden Tigers knocked off District 6 rival Central Mountain, 63-54.
Although the teams were guilty of numerous turnovers and shoddy play much of the night, both also came up with clutch plays, particularly late in regulation and during the 12 extra minutes.
In the end, it was Hollidaysburg's ability to convert free throws in the third OT - 10-of-12 at the charity stripe - that gave the Tigers their fifth victory in nine decisions.
"We have not played since the 28th [of December]," Hollidays-burg coach Mick Pentoney said, "and we looked like we hadn't played since the 28th.
"But, I'm just real happy that our young, inexperienced players found a way. This bunch has a little something special. They know how to win."
"Very competitive, for sure," CM coach Scott Baker said after the marathon. "We played a low-scoring game at our place as well."
The Wildcats led 22-21 at halftime in the first meeting, but scored only two points the entire second half - "I'd never seen that," Baker said - and lost by double digits.
The 'Cats led 23-17 at intermission last night before the Tigers went on an 11-0 run to go on top. A buzzer-beating "3" by CM's Tyler Everhart tied the game at 37 and forced overtime.
In the first extra session, Hollidaysburg's Nick Consiglio sank both ends of a one-plus-one with 2.9 seconds to go to tie it at 42-all. Tiger Jesse Ottaway converted a conventional 3-pointer with 19.1 seconds remaining in the second extra session. That made it 50-50 and brought on the third OT.
Hollidaysburg's Max Sheetz and Everhart traded treys to start the third OT before the Tigers dominated the final three minutes after Consiglio found Ottaway on the baseline for the go-ahead bucket.
The Tigers then took advantage of several double bonus foul opportunities to pull away. Consiglio sank three and Sheetz one to make it 57-51. Travis Turchetta's "3" kept the 'Cats alive, but the Tigers made six straight free throws - two each by DeAndrea Mason, Sheetz and Ryan Adams - in the final 37 seconds to seal it.
"Early on, they were missing fouls," Baker said, "but when it came money time, they didn't. Credit to them.
"Tonight was a good, clean, competitive game," Baker continued. "I think we took a step up."
"Central Mountain did a good job preparing tonight," Pentoney said. "Defense rules when you've been off, so I'm real pleased we found a way."
Adams scored 15, Consiglio 13 and Sheetz 12 for the Tigers while Turchetta netted 19 for the Wildcats.
"Jesse Ottaway was a force around the basket," Pentoney said of the 6-foot-7 junior, who scored nine points and was a defensive standout. "He was a defensive giant.
"Once we got into the fouls, we learned to get to the foul line and that's how you win games. We're young, but we're getting smarter."
The Tigers host Hempfield in a makeup game today with a 3:30 varsity start.
CENTRAL MOUNTAIN (54): Everhart 4 0-0 11, Turchetta 7 3-7 19, Meeker 3 0-0 6, Stevenson 1 2-3 4, Garbrick 3 0-0 8, Klein 2 0-0 4, Baker 0 0-0 0, Peddigree 1 0-0 2, Moore 0 0-0 0, Jolly 0 0-0 0. Totals - 21 5-10 54.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (63): Sheetz 3 3-4 12, Adams 5 5-10 15, Mason 3 2-2 8, Consiglio 3 5-6 13, Holsopple 0 0-0 0, Ottaway 3 3-5 9, Viduya 0 2-2 2, Snyder 2 0-0 4. Totals - 19 20-29 63.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central Mountain11 12 6 8 5 6 6 - 54
Hollidaysburg6 11 13 7 5 6 15 - 63
3-point goals: Central Mountain 7 (Everhart 3, Turchetta 2, Garbrick 2); Hollidaysburg 5 (Sheetz 3, Consiglio 2).
Officials: Keith Fry, Wesley Sinclair, Louis Garzarelli.
Records: Central Mountain (3-6); Hollidaysburg (5-4).
JV: Central Mountain, 51-43.