MIFFLINTOWN - After maintaining a modest lead over Tri-Valley League opponent Line Mountain the entire game, the Juniata boys basketball team might have had reason to worry when the Eagles brought the score to within five points with minutes left in Monday's game.
But if the Indians were nervous, they didn't show it.
Sparked by two buckets from Ross Mummah and a layup from Justin Mingle, Juniata stayed cool under Line Mountain's pressure and had the game back in hand before the final horn blew to a 66-54 final.
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY?KREITZER
Juniata’s Tyler Clark (30) takes a layup between Line Mountain defenders Kellan Masser (5) and Logan Ingram (1) Monday evening in Mifflintown. See more photos online at cu.lewistownsentinel.com
"The kids did what they had to do to win the ball game," said Juniata coach Al Ream, who led the team over .500 Monday night to a 4-3 overall record.
Ream explained that the Indians not only got some key defensive stops in the fourth quarter to clip the Eagles' rally, but defense was a steadying factor throughout the game. The Indians kept Elijah Zablosky - who was the only significant size match under the basket with Juniata - to 11 points, and the Line Mountain guards were also relatively ineffective against Juniata's help defense around the perimeter, making it possible for Juniata to keep its lead even when the buckets weren't dropping on offense.
Overall Juniata had some dry spells on offense, but freshman Tyler Clark scored a game-high 22 points - including four 3-point goals - classmate Josh Parson added 10 and Mummah and Mingle contributed eight points apiece as the Indians put forth a unified, if occasionally inconsistent, offensive effort.
In the first quarter, Juniata took a 20-9 lead by the end of the stanza, and 11 of those points came from Clark. Working off the quick passes of his teammates, Clark got open in the corner for two threes, hit another near the top of the arc and added a 2-pointer to collect half his total points. Center Jubal Baker and forward Logan Knepp were important in setting up these plays.
Ream said some positives he took away from the game were the team's continued success, the boys' hard work from the beginning of the game to the end and the stable defense, which he described as a staple in Juniata's game.
A weakness Ream identified were some missed shots, pointing out specifically a point in the game when the Indians were up by 16 points, but some missed buckets prevented them from putting the game away.
In the second quarter, Parson was tough in the lane and on the boards for four points. In the third quarter six Indians - the most in any single quarter - contributed to the offensive effort.
Sheldon Miller led Juniata's JV team with 16 points as the Indians won, 44-38.
Juniata (4-3, 2-2) will break for the holiday then resume play Jan. 3 at Halifax.