Indians roll past Tyrone to reach semis

HUNTINGDON – Maddie Zendt and Joelle Winey dominated the Tyrone frontcourt and lifted Juniata to a 44-36 win over Tyrone in the quarterfinals of the District 6 Class AA girls basketball playoffs Friday.

“I thought Joelle and Maddie did a great job of rebounding in the second half,” Juniata coach Meghan Geedey said. “We gave up some second shots in the first half, but we knew we were better than that. They stepped up on the rebounding end and we just hit some shots.”

Zendt did everything for the Indians, scoring 11 points and pulling down a team-high eight rebounds.

“(Maddie) does so much for us,” Geedey said. “She’s a playmaker for us. Maddie made some huge shots.”

Winey added a team-high 13 points and seven rebounds for Juniata in the hard-fought victory over the Mountain League champions.

Juniata opened fast by scoring the game’s first eight points, six of them from Winey in the paint, to spot a quick 8-0 lead.

Alexis Cannistraci got Tyrone on the board with 4:21 left in the quarter when she made two free throws to make it 8-2, but Winey answered with another layup to make it 10-2 Juniata.

Tyrone finally struck for its first field goal of the game with 1:51 left in the first when Emily Iuzzolino made a fade-away jumper.

Kasey Engle closed the Golden Eagles to within three points when she hit a 3-pointer from the right corner with 20 seconds to go in the quarter.

Juniata started the second quarter just like it did the first.

The Indians were the beneficiary of an unusual four-point possession to start the quarter. It all happened when Winey made a free throw then missed the second one. Maddie Zendt then cleaned up the boards again and got the ball back out to Janelle Swartz, who banked home a three.

After Victoria Varner missed two free throws, thanks to a technical foul on Tyrone coach Luke Rhoades, Zendt got another offensive rebound and made the ensuing jumper to give Juniata the 16-7 lead.

The Tyrone freshman Engle hit back-to-back threes for the Golden Eagles to pull them to 18-15 with about two minutes left in the opening half.

Jordyn Swogger added two free throws with 50 seconds left to make it 18-17 Juniata going into the half.

Tyrone sophomore Christine Finney held Varner, Juniata’s leading scorer, scoreless in the first half.

“They were keying on Victoria again,” Geedey said. “She couldn’t get open at all. Everybody else stepped up.”

Conversely, Juniata held Swogger, Tyrone’s leading scorer, to two points in the first half, both of them coming at the foul line.

Neither team could get much going offensively in the third quarter.

Zendt made a jumper with 6:33 left in the quarter and then neither team scored the next three minutes until Christine Finnley’s jumper with 3:23 left.

Zendt answered with another jumper and then Engle answered with a basket and the foul to tie it at 22-all.

In the most critical sequence of the game, Juniata scored five points in the final 28 seconds of the quarter.

After Winey made a jumper, Rylee Duck came up with a steal following the inbound and was fouled. Duck made the first free throw and miss the second. The ball was batted out to Swartz who quickly shoveled it to Alyssa Parson, who made a jumper as the quarter expired to give Juniata the 31-24 lead going into the final quarter.

“Basketball is such a game of momentum and a game of runs,” Geedey said. “I thought they made a run on us at the end of the first half. I thought we withstood their run and came out in the third quarter and played well. We kept the momentum.”

Varner’s only field goal of the night was a big one; her three with 5:51 left in the game extended the lead to eight.

“She didn’t get open much, but she made them pay when she got open. She’s a great shooter and that’s why teams have been keying on her the last five or six game,” Geedey said of Varner, who further explained that the junior is good for coming through with the big shot.

Engle’s free throws with 45.5 seconds left cut the Juniata lead to seven, but after Swartz missed two free throws, Tyrone couldn’t capitalize and after exchanging free throws, Juniata sealed the 44-36 win.

The Indians (20-2, 16-0 TVL) will play Marion Center, a 44-37 winner over Westmont-Hilltop, in the district semifinals at a time and place yet to be determined.

“This is a veteran group of girls that have played a lot of basketball together,” Geedey said. “I’m just so happy for them. They deserve this.”