Indians post big win over Tigers

MIFFLINTOWN – Juniata honored its 1964 girls basketball team Friday, in the 50th anniversary year of the Indians’ first championship in the sport, a Tri-Valley League title that came at the end of an unbeaten campaign.

If the evening’s modern-day victory over rival East Juniata – a 68-33 rout that left the home team firmly ensconced atop the league standings – is any example, these girls may need to keep a few 2064 dates open on their calendar.

Juniata scored 14 straight from the late first into the second period, posting a 27-point lead at the half that pretty much meant lights out for the Tigers. The lead extended to as much as 35 points late in the game, before both coaches sent the JV squads back out to the floor to finish.

Probably the highlight for East Juniata came after the opening tip-off, when the Tigers grabbed the first rebound of the game off a failed 3-point try by Maddie Zendt, and Kasi Horning took it to the other end for the first bucket.

But after Victoria Varner drained her first shot from outside the arc, the game took a decided turn in favor of the home team. Although there were enough misses on both sides for two basketball games, the Indians were the ones who were getting the ball to fall through the net.

A couple by Carly Burns padded the small early lead, then after Alana Hicks hit a bucket for the Tigers to draw within three, Juniata scored nine straight to take the game into the second period, then extended the run by five more, making it a 21-4 margin.

It wasn’t the start Juniata prepared for.

“I thought that they were going to come out really hard and ready to play us,” Indians coach Meghan Geedey said. “We do not take anybody lightly because anything can happen. You’re already wearing that target on your back.”

And it didn’t get better. Free throws were the biggest source of points for East Juniata as the scoreboard advanced to show 40-13 Indians at the break.

East Juniata had problems holding on to the ball, and the Tigers couldn’t find a spot on the floor where the basket seemed like a target they were going to hit.

“Turnovers killed us in the first half. We knew they were going to play pressure defense coming in and we just couldn’t handle it,” East Juniata coach Travis Quici said. “We had kids making mistakes tonight that they haven’t made since the last time we played Juniata.”

And the difficulty his team had shooting was even worse.

“It was, and we’ve been shooting the ball really well the last two weeks. We just couldn’t find the bottom of the rim tonight,” Quici said.

Along with Juniata, it was a win for the community as it was the team’s annual Pink Zone event, along with the chance to celebrate the past with the 1964 squad.

“I really enjoyed looking through those player profiles, and saw that several of them had even gone on to play in college,” Geedey noted. “I’m looking forward to hearing exactly how the game was played back then because I don’t even know.”

Varner led the scoring with 22 points; Burns chipped in 14 for Juniata. Kasi Horning led the Tigers with 11, half of that coming at the line.

East Juniata (8-4) hosts Penns Valley Monday. Juniata (12-1) travels to Greenwood Tuesday.