Juniata girls dominate Tri-Valley League all-stars
LEWISTOWN – The Tri-Valley League champion and District 6 Class AA runner-up Juniata Indians were well represented on the TVL girls all-star teams, including three first-teamers.
Four of the eight local girls basketball players to be honored were from Juniata High School.
Juniata forward Carly Burns took home the league MVP and coach Meghan Geedey won the league’s Coach of the Year award for leading the Indians to a 19-2 regular season and perfect 16-0 TVL mark.
“It’s just a reflection of the kids I coach,” Geedey said of the award. “I feel blessed to coach the kids I do and have the coaching staff I do. It’s a total team effort.”
Burns averaged 12.8 points per game and did a variety of things for the Indians, finishing third in the league in assists (55) and eighth in steals (40).
“I think they definitely saw versitilty,” Geedey said. “She does so much for us. She’s a hard-nosed player.”
She was joined on the first-team by Juniata junior and TVL leading scorer, Victoria Varner.
Varner averaged 17.6 points per game during conference play and was known around the league as a dangerous 3-point shooter, making a league-best 49 threes.
“Our last four league games, they came at us to try and stop her with a box-and-1,” Geedey said. “To her credit, she still finished as the league’s leading scorer even though they were focusing on her.”
Varner also shot a league-best 79.4 percent from the free throw line and Burns finished fourth at 72.1 percent.
Indians forward Maddie Zendt and guard Janelle Swartz were second-team TVL selections.
Zendt averaged 10.9 points per game against league competition and was fifth in the league in rebounding, at a 7.6 per game clip.
“Maddie is a great rebounder,” Geedey said. “Defensively, she really improved her game. If she gets offensive rebounds, she can finish inside. She has a really nice 15-foot jump shot. She can even step out and hit the 3.”
Swartz may have been a selection for her defense as much as her offense.
“(The coaches) saw what she was able to do defensively,” Geedey said. “She was such a defensive stopper for us. She got on the opposing team’s point guard and dogged them and made life miserable for them.”
She led the league in assists (64) and was fourth in steals (60).
Four other players were honored by their respective leagues, including two more TVL players.
East Juniata’s Maddie Trego was a first-team selection for her all-around play for the Tigers.
“She was definitely our most consistent player,” East Juniata coach Travis Quici said. “The first thing she said when we told her was that she couldn’t have done it without her teammates. She did whatever it took to help the team.”
Trego finished 10th in league play at 10 points per game on a team that struggled to score at times and was a senior that East Juniata often looked to in close, late game situations when they needed a basket.
“(Maddie) was one of the players scoring for us,” Quici said. “She just works hard and doesn’t give up. She was willing to get out of her comfort zone.”
The only sophomore honored by the conference was Greenwood’s Mallory Fortenbaugh, who was named to the second team.
“I think it’s pretty clear how hard Mallory works every single game,” Greenwood coach Amy Davidson said. “Everything she does on the court, she gives total effort.”
Fortenbaugh oftentimes led a very young Greenwood team that reached the second round of the District 3 Class A playoffs.
“It makes me really excited to have her and a group of juniors back next year,” Davidson said. “The future is very bright for us. It gets me very excited to get back and work with them.”
Fortenbaugh put up a strong defensive year, finishing in the top 10 in steals (35) and blocks (23), one of just two TVL players to do so.
Allegheny Christian Athletic Association
Valarie Meiser and Molly Arnold of ACAA finalist Juniata Mennonite were honored as league all-stars.
“Molly’s and Val’s selection is a testament of our team,” JMS coach Andy Meiser said. “What we had more than anyone else was multiple pieces. It was a team honor.”
Each player seemingly served as the team’s best player for half the season.
Meiser was more productive the first-half and Arnold carried the Lions down the stretch, posting a career-high 22 points her final game of the season.
“Valarie had a few ringer games early on,” Meiser said. “She played a nice game versus Meadowbrook where she scored 17 points and made four threes.”
Meiser battled sickness and injuries all season to earn the selection and supplied fantastic all-around play for the Lions.
“I think it was just her all-around play,” Meiser said. “We ask a lot of her. I think the coaches noticed that.”
Arnold nearly averaged 10 points per game and was a force inside for JMS, especially in the second half of the season.
“Molly got better and better as the season went on,” Meiser said. “In the league semifinal game she was 10-for-15 from the line and we needed every one of them.”
Her strong effort no matter the situation was another key for Arnold’s selection.
“She just played really hard.” Meiser said. “It didn’t matter what the situation was, she was going to give everything she had.”