Indians rally past county foe
Rush scores 26 for Juniata; duo has 12 for EJ
MIFFLINTOWN — After falling on the road to cross county rival East Juniata in the first game they met, Juniata was looking to split the season series Saturday in front of their own home court in Tri-Valley League girls basketball.
It was a back and forth contest early, but as the game went into the second period, the Tigers held a 10-point lead.
However, the Indians came out firing in the second half on the sizzling shooting hand of Mya Rush who posted 26.
After tying the game going into the final stanza, Juniata rallied back to take the 45-40 victory.
It was an instant classic as both teams battled to the very end with the game not being decided until the final minute of the contest.
Rush added three rebounds but was most important when she tallied the last points of the ball game to clinch the win for the Indians.
Despite being in foul trouble early on, Malin Kint dominated the boards and was a strong presence inside, pulling down 12 boards while scoring seven.
The Tigers were led by the efforts of Carly Beaver and Alyssa Hibbs who both posted 12 points.
“In the first half, we came out spotty. But in the second half we came out and played much better,” Juniata coach Kevin Kodish said. “We were able to erase that 10-point deficit and go into the fourth quarter tied up. The fourth quarter was winner take all. We made enough plays. You can’t say enough about Mya Rush but the biggest clutch shot of the night came from Chloe Zendt. We were tied at 45 with a minute left and she nailed the three.”
Going into the final stanza, the two teams would find themselves in a classic shootout to see who would come out victorious.
East Juniata struck first as Alyssa Hibbs went right to the heart of the Juniata defense for the bucket.
The Indians tied things on a clutch shot by Laney Dowling, tying the game back up at 38.
On the following Tigers possession, Hibbs repeated what worked just seconds ago and again went down the middle of the Juniata defense.
Trailing by two, Rush gave the home fans something to cheer about as she hit nothing but net on a triple with 4:54 left, giving them a 41-40 advantage.
Carly Beaver got in on the action as she split the defense and was fouled in the act of shooting. She went a perfect 2-for-2, giving the Tigers a lead at 42-41.
But the Indians started to feed the ball to the hot hand of Rush and again she responded, hitting her second triple, upping the Juniata lead to 44-42.
After forcing a turnover on the Tigers next possession, Juniata got the ball and pushed it down into the awaiting hands of Zendt. Zendt was hacked in the process of shooting, hitting one-of-two from the charity stripe to give the Indians a 45-42 advantage.
But the Tigers weren’t going down without a fight and tied things up with consecutive possessions.
Beaver brought her team within one on a field goal.
On the following possession, the Tigers got the ball back and Thea Neimond hit one-of-two from the foul line, tying it at 45 with 1:22 left.
On the Indians’ next possession, Zendt was clutch under pressure sending a triple from beyond the arc, giving the Indians again a 3-point advantage.
The trio caused a East Juniata time out so they could set up for their next possession.
However, Juniata got the ball back with a chance to run out the clock.
After stealing the ball away from Juniata, the Tigers had 12.9 for one last chance, but a three-point shot by the Tigers missed and Zendt pulled down the rebound to secure the win.
“We refused to defend the 3-point shot. We live by the three, we die by the three. We missed shots tonight and they made shots tonight. I mean that’s what it comes down to,” East Juniata coach Travis Quici said. “We live off that 3-point line and the shooters weren’t making their shots so that’s what it comes down to. At the end of the night, hats off to Kevin and those girls as they came out and outplayed us.”
It was just another exciting nail biting contest between these two rivals. Which is nothing new to these two fan bases.
East Juniata 45, Juniata 50
Mackenzie Bennett 2 0-2 5, Mya Rush 9 2-2 26, Chloe Zendt 2 1-6 6, Laney Dowling 3 0-0 6, Malin Kint 3 1-2 7. Totals 19 4-6 50.
3-point goals: Bennett, Rush 6, Zendt.
Did not score: Rowe Shepps.
Carly Beaver 5 2-2 12, Clayre Guyer 1 0-0 3, Thea Neimond 3 3-4 9, Alyssa Hibbs 6 0-2 12, Alyssa Robinson 3 0-0 9. Totals 14 5-8 45.
3-point goals: Guyer, Robinson 3.
Score by quarters
East Juniata 12-16 -8 -9 — 45
Juniata 8-10-18-14 — 50