Members of the State College boys’ basketball team couldn’t stop smiling during the District 6 Class 6A championship game Friday night.
The Little Lions smiled after breakaway dunks and after 3-pointers. They celebrated on the bench at the end of the game and grinned for photos on the court after their dominant 94-54 win over Altoona at Penn State Altoona. It was State College’s fourth straight district championship, and it punched the Little Lions’ ticket to the PIAA tournament.
“We’re confident that we’re going to make an impact in the state this year,” State College’s Ryan McNulty said. “However, we need to focus one game at a time, and we can’t get overly confident. We can’t look two or three games into the future. We got to focus on one at a time.”
The Little Lions were dialed in from start to finish Friday night, building a 28-9 lead after the first quarter and taking a 78-43 lead into the fourth. Drew Friberg paced State College’s balanced offensive attack with 23 points. McNulty and Tommy Friberg each added 20 for the Little Lions, who improved their record to 23-1 this season.
It was a rout from the start against Altoona.
The Little Lions used their full-court press to force turnovers and create easy scoring opportunities in transition. They knocked down open jumpers and 3-pointers and cruised into the lane for layups as they took control.
And they threw down a few dunks, too.
At the start of the third quarter, State College guard Keaton Ellis came away with a steal and pushed the ball down the floor with Little Lions teammate Brandon Clark running toward the rim. Ellis dropped off a pass for Clark, who hammered home a dunk.
Clark smiled on his way back down the court, and Little Lions coach Joe Walker said it was one of the highlights of the night.
“That’s high school basketball at its finest,” Walker said. “When I look at film, it might not be a made shot. It’s their reaction on the bench or their reaction to each other.”
Walker could see the joy on his players’ faces all night.
Shortly after Clark’s dunk, McNulty finished an alley oop with an emphatic dunk that excited his teammates and the crowd.
“Oh my gosh, it was so fun. I live for those moments,” McNulty said. “It’s all you see in college, NBA, you see the bench getting into it, you see crowd getting hyped and I love that.”
The Little Lions put on a show with the blowout win to capture the district title.
They’ll be looking to create more memories when they return to action in the first round of the PIAA playoffs March 10.
“It’s a long road,” Walker said. “We don’t play again until March 10 and then hopefully ‘til the end of March, so it’s a long road. We got to make sure we stay in shape, stay healthy, eat right, all those things.”