Strong fourth delivers for Tigers

MILLERSTOWN – While far from a thing of beauty – the game featured 42 turnovers – the East Juniata girls basketball team did what it had to do to hold off a pesky Greenwood squad, 32-21, and claw their way back above .500 for the season overall, and moved ahead by a game in the Tri-Valley League.

“Greenwood brought it tonight,” said East Juniata coach Travis Quici, whose team found itself trailing 17-10 midway through the third quarter. “They knew what we were going to do and we didn’t execute real well in the first half.”

A change in Quici’s strategy turned the tide of the contest. The Tigers switched out of their normal zone defense and went man-to-man. The result was four steals on Greenwood’s first four possessions of the final quarter and fast breaks at the other end.

“Kasi Horning (who had five steals) really got after it, she put a lot of ball pressure on which lead to some easy baskets on the other end and allowed us to take control of the game,” Quici said.

Greenwood coach T.J. Weller though his counterpart’s switch might backfire.

“I told our girls I thought they were entering our world. They don’t like playing man-to-man and we do – we’re a pressure team and they are not,” he said. “They were very aggressive and physical and we seemed to back down. I was very surprised I thought we would eat that up.”

Horning lead all scorers with eight points to go with her five steals and four rebounds. Also for the Tigers, Lauren Maguire had six steals to go with her five points. Maddie Trego and Katrina Gelnett tied for a team high six boards. Caitlin Hoover had a strong night with six points, five rebounds and four takeaways.

Lauren Wilson and freshman Mallory Fortenbaugh paced the Wildcats with six points apiece. Fortenbaugh had seven rebounds and five steals as well. Emily Fisher cleaned the glass with 10 boards while blocking two shots. Junior Hattie Kuhns made four steals. Greenwood out-rebounded East Juniata 37-28 in the contest.

Early on both offenses looked anemic as the teams combined for 3-of-16 from the field in a first quarter that ended with Greenwood up 4-2.

Wilson’s three-ball broke a 6-6 tie and paced Greenwood to a 12-8 halftime lead.

Her third-quarter trifecta sparked a 5-0 run to put her team up 17-10, which was the Wildcat high-water mark.

From there, the Tigers closed the game on a 22-4 run, blanking the Wildcats 14-0 in the fourth as the ‘Cats had no answer for the increased pressure. A pair of free throws by Maddie Trego with 6:57 left put East Juniata on top for good.

“We played well defensively well for three quarters” Weller said. “Obviously you can’t score zero in the fourth and expect to win. We’re playing five and six deep. It is hard to go deeper than that and play as physical as it was tonight.”

Greenwood (2-6, 2-11) hosts Juniata Friday. East Juniata (6-5, 5-3) hosts Bellefonte in the Tigers’ Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser.