EJ girls fall in D4 opener

MANSFIELD – East Juniata came out strong but saw the game slip away as the Tigers went cold in the fourth quarter, going eight possessions without a basket, and fell 42-35 in District 4 Class A girls basketball quarterfinal action Thursday.

“That’s a tough way to end the season,” East Juniata coach Travis Quici said. “Mansfield’s a heck of a team. We had them scouted pretty well, stopped them for three quarters but in that fourth quarter we got in some foul trouble. We had to back up on our defense a little bit and we couldn’t execute.”

EJ started off strong, taking a 10-4 lead right off the bat.

They got five points off their full court press while Megan Graybill hit a three.

“We’ve kind of done that all year,” Quici said about his team’s fast start. “We’ve relied on that press that got us going and again we got some foul trouble and they find a way to break and get some easy baskets.”

Mansfield’s Ali Hillson scored three straight points to cut it to 10-7 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter the two teams went back and forth as the two teams traded the first seven buckets.

A three by Caitlin Hoover put East Juniata up 17-11 and they would keep that advantage to 19-13 before Hillson answered them again.

She hit a three, then followed up with two free throws to cut it to 19-18.

Late in the quarter EJ pushed ahead once more as Maddie Trego hit a lay-up and was fouled. She hit the free throw to make it 22-18.

A pair of Hillson free throws cut it to 22-20 at the half.

The third quarter saw more back and forth action. Mansfield’s came out with a three but Hoover followed with a bucket of her own.

Alyssa Davey-Bostic hit a jumper for Mansfield followed by Shelley Gabel answering with a jumper of her own.

Simone Lichty hit a driving lay-up to put Mansfield up 27-26 followed by East’s Kasi Horning’s putback.

Hillson hit Kaitlyn Garverick for a bucket, making it 29-28, but Sam Lash followed with a bucket to put EJ back up 30-29.

Mansfield’s Sara Wolbert hit two free throws to put Mansfield back up and they wouldn’t relinquish the lead.

Hillson hit a driving lay-up late in the quarter and Mansfield took a 33-30 lead into the final frame.

In the fourth is when East Juniata went cold. They would go scoreless for eight straight possessions to start the quarter.

Mansfield scored the first seven points to push their lead to 40-30 before Hoover hit a three to stop the bleeding.

Hoover would hit one of two from the charity stripe to cut it to 40-34 with 1:46 left to play but that’s as close as it got late.

Hillson hit a driving lay-up with 1:20 left in the game to seal the win.

“When you’re down two and you miss shots on eight consecutive possessions and they hit a couple threes it turns the tide real quick,” remarked Quici. “They got that momentum there with four minutes left and we couldn’t rebound from that.”

Hoover finished with 10 points while Trego scored nine. Horning had seven, Gabel scored four, Graybill netted three while Lash added two.

Hillson led Mansfield with 18 points while Garverick and Davey-Bostic had 10 points each.

Quici gracious about his two seniors in the loss.

“Hats off to my two seniors tonight, Maddie and Caitlin,” he said. “I thought they both played their tails off. I thought all the girls played their tails off.”