Coder’s early dominance lifts EJ
MILLERSTOWN – East Juniata passed another tough road test on Saturday night, defeating Greenwood 45-35 in a Tri-Valley League boys basketball game.
Bailey Coder scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for East Juniata (7-0, 5-0) and Nick Lorenz added 17 points and two of the Tigers’ three 3-pointers to stay perfect on the season.
“He killed us in the first half,” Greenwood coach Kent Houser said of Coder. “I thought he played a tremendous game. I thought whenever they needed a basket, he could just get one for them.”
Greenwood’s Tyler Fegley scored 16 points, but fouled out with 3:36 to play and his teammates couldn’t make up for his absence.
Whether it was rust or Greenwood (6-3, 3-2) slowing the pace, both team struggled to put the ball in the basket in the opening quarter.
Fegley’s basket with 2:47 left in the first gave Greenwood an 8-2 lead, but East Juniata answered with the following six the remainder of the quarter.
Coder and Fegley each scored six of their teams’ eight points in the opening stanza and Coder’s putback off Jake Sankey’s miss as time expired in the quarter made it 8-8.
“I think it’s a combination of everything,” East Juniata coach Brock Anders said of the slow start and sluggish pace for his team, which has scored over 70 points four times in six previous games. “I think it’s their style of play; it’s traditionally how they play. Obviously, we haven’t played in nearly two weeks so that’s also a factor in this. We know when you come down here and play them and some of the teams in the Tri-Valley, it’s a knock-down, drag out. You’re going to have to play in the half-court and be disciplined and make some plays.”
Coder and Fegley continued their duel into the second quarter, with Coder’s two baskets to Fegley’s one, giving the Tigers the 12-10 advantage.
Greenwood’s Joe Sheaffer answered Sankey’s drive with a 3-pointer to cut into East Juniata’s lead, 14-13.
Coder and Fegley traded baskets again, before a three and free throw from Lorenz gave the Tigers their largest lead of the game at 20-15.
Greenwood duplicated East Juniata in the first quarter and rattled off six straight to end the second.
Fegley’s bucket with 50 seconds remaining in the half gave Greenwood the 21-20 lead at the half.
Coder scored 12 and hauled in 11 rebounds in the opening half, while Fegley had 14 first-half points for Greenwood.
Fegley’s two free throws with 5:03 to play in the third quarter gave Greenwood a 28-22 lead, but they were Fegley’s only points of the closing half.
“I think that we tried to not front him as much,” Anders said. “In the first we tried to front him and we got trapped behind some screens. He was able to get his spots on the block and create some mismatches with size. We tried to adjust some things there.”
After trading baskets, Greenwood led 30-24 with 1:59 to play in the quarter.
That’s when things changed.
East Juniata went to a 17-0 run that stretched exactly nine minutes of game time until Adam Harrison’s free throws with 59.6 second left in the game ended it.
“We had some great looks in the first half and early in the second half,” Houser said. “We just quit executing. Way too much trying to do things one-on-one and showing a lack of patience. We came out in the second half with two great possessions; then we just kind of lost our focus.”
Lorenz, who had been averaging 23 points per game, was held to six points to that point, but exploded for nine of the 17 during that run.
His free throw with 1:17 to play in the game ended the run and gave the Tigers a 41-30 lead.
Harrison added a 3-pointer at the buzzer for Greenwood to finalize East Juniata’s 10 point victory.
“To get a victory like this for our program, it’s priceless right now,” Anders said. “It’s gratifying for all our players past and present and for our coaches.”
Greenwood won the JV game, 43-20.
Both teams will be back in action on Tuesday. East Juniata will host Millersburg at 7:30 p.m. while Greenwood hosts Line Mountain at the same time.