NORTHUMBERLAND - A few weeks ago, Andy Meiser admits, it would have been improbable to see the team he coaches get a playoff game.
With a huge emotional lift Tuesday, the Juniata Mennonite girls cracked open the door to a berth in the Allegheny Christian Athletic Association basketball tournament - the equivalent of districts and states in one for non-PIAA members like the Lions.
But in a play-in game at Sunbury Christian Academy Wednesday, the girls met their match. Northumberland Christian overcame a double-digit deficit to dash Juniata Mennonite's tournament hopes. The Warriors, by virtue of a 44-40 outcome, will get the third spot in the league tournament, which they host beginning today.
"They played their guts out. The girls left everything they had out there," Meiser said. "We just needed a little more offense."
Meiser said his team did a lot of things right, including holding Northumberland sharpshooter Alyssa Wesner - a 2,000-point scorer - to single digits when fouls put her on the bench for part of the game.
"We made a run with her out," he said - but she came back. "Her presence changed things."
ACAA TOURNAMENT UPDATE
Based on incorrect information provided by league and school officials, Juniata Mennonite's status as a qualifier for the Allegheny Christian Athletic Association boys basketball tournament was misstated in Wednesday's edition of The Sentinel.
The boys team finished the season in a tie for third place in the ACAA's East Division. Due to a scheduling change at the league level, the Juniata Mennonite boys must now win a play-in game in order to participate in the tournament. That game is today at 11:30 a.m. at Meadowbrook Christian School in Milton.
And the Lions were stymied when Valarie Meiser - who led her team and tied for the game lead with 12 points - became the subject of a box-and-one defense, and her team was unsuccessful in trying to exploit the open middle.
"We didn't handle that real well," Andy Meiser admitted.
Juniata Mennonite led out of the gate and held it at the half, building to a 10-point advantage in the third.
"Actually, we were up one with a minute left," Meiser said.
But the Warriors chipped away at the lead and when the Juniata County school was forced to foul for possession, finished it off.
Juniata Mennonite (8-9, 6-7) hosts Belleville Mennonite Tuesday.
Mount Union 79, Fannett-Metal 64
MOUNT UNION - Offense? Yeah, Mount Union had some of that. Of course, so did Fannett-Metal - the Trojans prevailed in the high-scoring affair, though, winning 79-64 in the non-league girls basketball game Wednesday.
Ashley Foor may not have led the scoring overall, but her 12-of-14 at the line was impressive as the team hit 25 of 33 attempts from the charity stripe.
"She's a very disciplined player. She's very reliable," Mount Union coach Jenny Cunningham said of her point guard. "I couldn't be more impressed with how she has handled it and how she's grown this year."
Foor's 22-point total was overshadowed by the 28 points Tynita White put on the board. Ashlyn Drake became the third double-digit scorer with 12.
Two players account for 43 of the 64 points the visitors put up.
"Our defense was OK. They made a lot of stuff that was just thrown up there," Cunningham said. "But we really attacked the basket tonight, which was impressive. They looked like an end of the season team. They looked like a playoff team."
Mount Union (10-11) looks to end the season with a .500 record when the Trojans travel to Williamsburg Friday.
Selinsgrove 49, Midd-West 39
SELINSGROVE - Brianna Beiler put up 12 points and two of her Mustang teammates added nine, but that wasn't enough for the Midd-West girls to offset Selinsgrove, a 49-39 winner in their Heartland Conference girls basketball game Wednesday.
The Seals also won the JV game, 40-27. Chloe Wagner scored 12 for Midd-West.
The Mustangs are 7-14.
Mifflinburg 54, Midd-West 28
MIDDLEBURG - Midd-West shot just 25 percent from the floor and gave the ball away 20 times in a 54-28 Heartland Conference boys basketball loss to Mifflinburg.
The Huskies finished their season at 4-18 after going winless a year ago, but did not capture a conference win this season.
Colton Keister led the offensive attack with 11.
Mifflinburg also won the JV game, 55-45.