Last-gasp effort falls short
PORT ROYAL – The Juniata Mennonite boys basketball team showed what the meaning of playing with heart meant Friday night against a very feisty Walnut Street Christian team.
Down by 14 early in the first half, the Lions kept hanging around and never let themselves too far out of the ballgame, tying the contest with just seconds left on the clock.
But the Warriors’ leading scorer, Taylor Potter, spoiled the Lions’ hopes, hitting one -of-two from the charity stripe to give them the lead with 17 ticks left on the clock.
Adrian Martin went up for an off-balanced three-point attempt to tie and was fouled in the process. In his first two attempts at the line, Martin was automatic, cutting the Warriors’ lead to a point, 47-46. But the last one rolled off the rim, and that’s where the scoring ended.
Martin’s performance was what helped lead the Juniata Mennonite comeback; he finished with a team high 20-point effort. Teammate Caleb Metz also finished in double figures, posting a 10-point effort.
One of the strong defensive performances came from Martin and center Noah Grundon. Grundon’s inside presence pushed the Warriors outside in the second half. Grundon was also strong going toward the hoop, hitting six points in the third and fourth quarter.
Walnut Street Christian had all the answers in the first half, outscoring the Lions 30-19 while Juniata Mennonite outscored the Warriors 27-17 in the third and fourth.
“That’s the thing about this team this year. They never quit,” Juniata Mennonite coach Dennis Zimmerman said. “They never say die. What I love about them, no matter how far their down you never see anybody dropping their heads and wanting to quit out there. That’s all exciting. We made a little run there in the fourth quarter and at that point in time they were getting excited. I told my guys we have to stay calm and they did. They did a great job except in the end we just didn’t have enough to do it.”
Juniata Mennonite started to make its comeback late in the first half, netting the last four points before the intermission. With the momentum shift, the Lions continued to push the ball down the heart of the Warriors defense.
The fast break had opened up for the Lions, who were able to open the second half on an 8-3 run, cutting the lead to 33-27.