It’s been an up and down year for Altoona, but the Railroaders seem to be coming on at the right time.

For sure, if you consider Monday night’s 62-53 win over Eau Claire Regis at the Greenhouse.

“Any time you can come in here and get a ‘W,’ it’s big,” said Jake Meyer, who contributed eight points and grabbed seven rebounds. “We were at 6-7 (in Western Cloverbelt) and we wanted to get to .500.”

The Rails came from behind with a 10-point run toward the middle of the second half and then were able to meet every Regis charge down the stretch.

“Poise is a good word,” said Altoona coach Stacy Winsand. “We’ve struggled some, but I think we grew up a little tonight.”

Once the Rails grabbed the lead, they never gave it up, although Regis fought back within one down the stretch and stayed in contention until the final two minutes when Altoona scored the last six points to clinch it.

“We just couldn’t get it over the hump,” Regis coach Bryant Brenner said. “We got outrebounded and gave up a lot of baskets in transition.”

Another factor in the defeat was that the Ramblers were missing Abe Rocksvold, out several games under concussion precaution. He scored 23 points in the Ramblers 81-78 win at Altoona earlier.

But Brenner said his team played hard and he would take nothing away from Altoona.

Regis took a 34-29 lead early in the second half following two 3-point baskets by Branton Paulsrud and seemed in good shape. But a Gage Eisold basket triggered a 10-point Altoona run capped by Gage Turner’s 3-pointer, his only basket of the game.

With the 39-34 lead, the Rails hung on, weathering a six-point Rambler run capped by JT Koestler’s basket with 5:14 to play that cut the lead to 49-48. Jake Nelson’s only basket was matched by a Paulsrud jumper and it was still a one-point game.

But Reese Martin’s drive-in was followed by a 3-pointer from the corner by Nate McMahon, which proved to be one of the key shots of the game.

“McMahon’s 3 opened up the lead and then Nelson found Martin all alone under the basket to extend the lead,” Winsand said.

The Rails also got a big boost from the second half play of sophomore Keshawn Harris, who controlled the ball well and scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half.

McMahon was the only other double-figure scorer with 10 while Evan Moss and Martin each added nine for the Rails, who used a 37-28 rebound advantage as a key to the win.

“It was a total team effort,” Winsand said. “Everybody that got minutes did what was needed to do.”

And now it’s tournament time.

“We worked all year to get better at this time,” Winsand said. “I like the way we’re playing, it’s the right time for that.”

Paulsrud hit four 3’s and led the Ramblers with 18 points. Osborn scored 11 and led all rebounders with 12.

“Osborn’s a real solid player,” Brenner said. “He gives us everything he’s got on both ends of the court.”

Brenner said the Ramblers are not done.

“Everybody’s going to work with what carried the kids to get to this point,” he said. “We’re not perfect, but that’s life. We just look to improve.”


Altoona — FGM-FGA FTM-FTA TP: Jake Nelson 1-6 0-0 2, Jake Meyer 4-8 0-0 8, Nate McMahon 3-8 1-2 10, Evan Moss 3-6 1-3 9, Reese Martin 4-8 0-0 9, Gage Turner 1-2 0-0 3, Brayden Turk 1-2 0-0 2, Gage Eisold 3-6 0-0 7, Keshawn Harris 3-6 6-8 12, Totals 23-52 8-13 62.

Regis – Cade Osborn 3-11 5-9, 11, Jackson Woltersdorff 0-0 0-0 0, JT Koestler 4-6 1-1 9, Will Jordahl 0-0 0-0 0, Mitch Merkel 0-1 0-0 0, Branton Paulsrud 7-14 0-1 18, JP Woltersdorff 2-5 2-2 7, Hayden Reinders 3-5 0-1 6, David Haselwander 0-1 0-0 0, Aaron Haselwander 0-1 2-2 2, Joe Edge 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-44 10-16 53..

Halftime: Altoona 26-22. 3-Point Shots: Altoona 8-19 (McMahon 3-7, Moss 2-3, Martin 1-2, Turner 1-2, Eisold 1-2, Nelson 0-1, Meyer 0-1, Harris 0-1), Regis 5-16 (Paulsrud 4-8, JP Woltersdorff 1-1, Osborn 0-2, Reinders 0-2, Koestler 0-1, D. Haselwander 0-1, Merkel 0-1). Rebounds: Altoona 37 (Meyer 7, Moss 7), Regis 28 (Osborn 12). Total Fouls: Altoona 16, Regis 17. Turnovers: Altoona 11, Regis 12. Officials: Matt Atkinson, Dan Lacher, Billy McKnight. Records: Altoona 8-13, 7-7, Regis 12-8, 7-7.