Juniata bulldozes East Juniata

COCOLAMUS – For the first four minutes of East Juniata’s girls basketball game with Juniata, the Tigers made it competitive.

The teams traded a few buckets back and forth to get the game started, and overall East Juniata’s pressure around the perimeter kept Juniata’s sharpshooters at bay. However, Juniata was outpacing East Juniata both defensively and on the boards, and it wasn’t long until the scales tipped in the Indians’ favor.

By the end of the fourth, Juniata had 16-4 lead.

By the end of the game, the Indians had stretched it to 60-19.

“We knew we were going up against the buzzsaw tonight,” East Juniata coach Travis Quici said, and that’s probably exactly how it felt as Juniata’s defensive rebounding kept the Tigers to a one-shot offense, effectively cutting apart any chances East Juniata had at a rally.

“We continue to work on our defense and our rebounding, and we feel like if we can play defense and rebound, we can play with a lot of teams and we can win,” Juniata coach Meghan Geedey said.

Both coaches were correct that ultimately the game came down to which team could execute its defense.

East Juniata was simply outplayed on its defense end of the court, and it showed up in the fouls column.

By the end of the first quarter, the Tigers had collected six team fouls. In the second quarter, guard Kasi Horning’s three fouls forced her to take an untimely trip to the bench. And Horning’s absence was unfortunate for the Tigers – without her key play on both ends of the court East Juniata had even more trouble dealing with the Indians, who were able to mount a 33-10 lead at the half.

“(Juniata’s) defense was definitely fantastic, and we knew that coming in,” Quici said. “We knew they were going to press, we knew they were going to play man-to-man. We had some shots, we got some stuff we wanted. We did take some questionable shots, but you learn.”

Fighting against Juniata’s defense was an uphill battle for East Juniata, and for the remainder of the game the Tigers could score no more than four points in the third quarter and five points in the fourth. Maddie Trego was East Juniata’s lead scorer with six total, including back-to-back buckets under the basket near the end of the half, but it was clear throughout the game that the Indians were not going to let her get dangerous.

“I thought Joelle Winey really did a nice job fronting Trego,” Geedey explained. “That’s exactly what we try to do – try to get in people’s faces defensively and try to not give up easy points.”

Juniata’s lead scorer was Victoria Varner, who hit four 3-pointers en route to her game-high 20 points.

In JV action, East Juniata edged the Indians, 28-26. Laurel Amey and Erin Heimbach tied for a game-high 10 points, while Juniata’s Amber Myers and Rylee Duck led their team with seven points a piece.

Juniata (7-1, 5-0) travels to Upper Dauphin today while East Juniata (3-3, 2-3) makes the trip to Newport.