Juniata girls pass test in overtime

LEWISTOWN – It’s never to early to be tested.

The Juniata girls basketball team found that out Saturday afternoon when they went head-to-head with a resurgent Bellefonte team.

Bellefonte pushed the Indians to an extra period before Juniata regained its form and outscored the Red Raiders 11-5, picking up the hard fought 47-41 victory at Mifflin County’s Tip-Off Classic.

Sharp-shooting guard Victoria Varner posted a game-high 25 points in the victory. Six of Varner’s points came in the extra period. Teammate Janelle Swartz finished with an eight-point effort. Three of her points came in crunch time, helping her team to victory.

Bellefonte’s Jessica Book had the hot hand from the field, finishing with a team high 18 points while her sister Cassandra finished with nine.

With the game headed into the overtime period tied at 36, Juniata made the most of its opportunity, outscoring Bellefonte 7-0 in the first minute to take a 43-36 advantage.

After a bucket by Bellefonte’s Lexi Wetzler, the Indians outscored the Red Raiders down the stretch by 4-3 margin to secure the victory.

“We know that when Victoria gets hot teams are going to want to shut her down. We needed other kids to step up and make plays, put the ball in the basket and just make plays,” Juniata coach Meghan Geedey said. “The kids came up big when they had too. Give real credit to Bellefonte on how they came back but I am really proud of my girls on how they kept their composure and made the plays we needed. They kept it together did what they had to do to pull out the win.”

Going into the fourth quarter, the two teams came in tied at 30.

Bellefonte looked to have the advantage for the victory as it went into final minutes leading by a pair.

In the fourth, Cassandra Book gave the Red Raiders the lead as she hit two-of-two from the charity stripe.

On its next possession, the Indians tied things at 32 apiece on a jumper by Maddie Zendt with 6:05 left in regulation.

As the two went back and forth in the scoring department, the Red Raiders took the lead on a tough shot inside the paint by Jessica Book.

But center Joelle Winey’s drive to the hoop put the game into overtime, putting it in the hole with only 31 ticks left on the clock.

After the intermission the Red Raiders trailed 26-16. However, they shut down Varner and the rest of the Indians on defense, outscoring Juniata 14-4 in the period, forcing the tie going into fourth.

Varner, who scored 17 of her 25 points in the first half, was strong in the opening period, posting three triples in the stanza; teammate Janelle Swartz posted one trey as well, giving Juniata a 16-6 lead going into the second.

The Indians posted six from behind the arc in the victory.

Varner was just a successful in the second quarter in the scoring column but her success came via the free throw line where she tallied five points from the charity stripe and a triple to go with the free throws.