Juniata crushes Halifax, retains TVL lead

MIFFLINTOWN As the Juniata girls basketball team prepares for the postseason, the focus Friday night turned to league play, as Halifax was likely the last obstacle in the Indians’ attempt to capture a second straight Tri-Valley League championship.

But what was supposed to be a slugfest against the Wildcats – the highest scoring team in the TVL – was more of a cruise for the Indians as they outscored Halifax 23-7 in the first quarter before the eventual 69-33 win.

Juniata’s likely TVL title comes on the 50th anniversary of the Indians’ very first TVL title – an event that will be celebrated Jan. 24 when the Indians host East Juniata.

It was a total team effort by the home team as four of the Indians finished in double figures.

Leading the way for Juniata was Victoria Varner who scored a game-high 20 points. Just like Varner, Carly Burns scored most of her points in the paint, driving the lane at will.

Joelle Winey, who finished with a double-double (11 points, 10 boards) and Maddie Zendt both finished with 11.

“That’s a good team. We only beat them by seven down at their place. We had three days to prepare for them. We had three good practices and worked on some things defensively and our kids executed the game plan about as perfectly as they could have,” Juniata coach Meghan Geedey said. “They (Halifax) averages 65 points a game and to (limit) them… I was hoping to hold them under 50 but to hold them to 33; it was just a totally awesome team effort.”

In the first quarter, Juniata came out primed and ready, collapsing its defense and forcing the Wildcats to shoot from outside.

On its offensive end, Juniata opened the game on a 12-0 run before Halifax got in the scoring column.

Varner led the way early, netting six of the first 12 while Winey chipped in with four.

Halifax scored its first bucket of the game with 4:17 left in the period.

Defensively, the Indians allowed only five points the rest of the way in the quarter while its offense rolled off with 11 more points en route to the 23-7 score.

Halifax tried to make a comeback in the second as its defense allowed just six points. However, the Indians’ defense was almost as tough, allowing just nine.

As the two teams went into the intermission, Juniata was just one half away from the victory, leading 31-16.

The Juniata offense put the game on ice in the third quarter as it outscored the Wildcats 22-10.

In the third, Burns was almost unstoppable from the inside, leading her team in scoring in the quarter with nine.

When the dust settled in the quarter and the final stanza got underway, Juniata increased its lead to a very comfortable 51-26.

There would be no big Halifax comeback in this game as the Indians continued to pound away on the boards, salting away the game with an 18-7 fourth quarter.

“It was really exciting because Halifax is a second half team and for us to come out and put them away in the third quarter,” Geedey said. “I am very proud of the kids. They put out a great effort. It was just awesome to see.”

Juniata, which remains undefeated, will travel to Lancaster Country Day on Tuesday.