Offense lacking for East Juniata
COCOLAMUS – Anemic.
That’s the one word that may best describe the East Juniata girls’ basketball offense Wednesday night against Tri-Valley League opponent Newport.
The Tigers shot a dismal 13 percent from the field and fell to the Buffaloes, 29-18.
“We were getting the shots we wanted,” East Juniata coach Travis Quici said. “We just didn’t execute the open shots we had.”
Each team struggled to find the bottom of the net in the opening quarter but opportunities were not sparse for the Tigers. Ball movement and timely cuts allowed the home team to find some holes in the Buffaloes’ man-to-man defense, but East Juniata struggled to convert from the paint.
Nearly every set of East Juniata’s offense was an attempt to feed Katrina Gelnett on the block, but tough help defense by the Buffaloes thwarted the attempt time and again.
The second quarter started slow as the Tigers committed some untimely turnovers and couldn’t seem to crack the Newport zone. East Juniata was held scoreless until a steal and breakaway bucket by Kasi Horning ended the scoring drought.
East Juniata’s shooting woes continued at the free throw line as well, failing to convert on six attempts in the first half alone.
“We made three of 16 free throws and lost by 11,” Quici noted.
Despite the Buffaloes switching from man-to-man to a zone defense, East Juniata continued to get decent looks at the basket.
“Their defense didn’t bother us,” Quici said. “We just didn’t execute.”
Despite trailing by eight at the half but with neither team shooting the lights out, the Tigers were still within reach. The Buffaloes came out of the intermission a tad sharper though and were able to win the battle on the glass, out rebounding East Juniata and getting second-chance looks.
The Buffaloes stuck with a man-to-man defense to start the third quarter and the Indians responded well, utilizing cutters and screens to get open looks but knocking down the shots continued to trouble the home team.
Megan Graybill knocked down a 3-pointer with 4:48 remaining in the third, ending another scoring drought and bringing the score to 20-9. East Juniata wouldn’t get within 11 points again for the remainder of the game.
The Buffaloes took advantage of a total-team substitution with 3:27 remaining in the third and converted on some easy looks in the paint. Following a 50-second breather, the Tigers’ starting five re-entered the game and dug their heels in on defense heading to the fourth quarter down by 14.
Caitlin Hoover led the way for the Tigers, netting nine points, five coming in the final quarter of the game as East Juniata looked to make a run. The squad was more active on defense and allowed a mere three points from the visitors.
“Our girls played their butts off on defense and we pride ourselves on our defense,” Quici said. “They played with a lot of heart.”
But the fourth-quarter push and strong defensive effort were too little, too late for the Tigers.
The Indians look ahead to the playoffs with an opponent, date and time to be determined Sunday.
East Juniata finishes the regular season at 12-10, 9-7 in the TVL. The District 4 Class A tournament awaits,with brackets to be released Monday.