Season ends in consolation loss for East Juniata girls
MILTON — Days after facing Loyalsock’s juggernaut, the road to qualify for the PIAA Class 3A girls basketball state tournament got no easier for East Juniata against Lewisburg –the District 4 Clas 4A runner-up a season ago.
The No. 3 seed Green Dragons (16-10) flexed their muscles early and often against East Juniata’s zone defense, building an early 11-point lead to roll to a convincing 54-26 triumph Saturday afternoon in a consolation game in which only the winner would keep playing.
Lewisburg has reached the state playoffs for the second season in a row, while East Juniata’s season ended with a 17-8 record.
“They (Lewisburg) just had more energy than we did,” East Juniata coach Travis Quici said. “(Grace Kelleher) is a nice player and we had a tough time stopping her.”
Kelleher quickly sprinted past the Tigers for the game’s first two points, but the first quarter belonged to the Green Dragons’ Katy Martin and Jamie Fedorjaka, who combined for 10 of the Dragons’ 15 points in the period on five field goals.
“This was a great bounce-back win for us,” Lewisburg coach Brent Sample said. “Our game plan was to attack their zone and try to exploit the gaps in it.”
The Tigers, though, were able to slow Lewisburg enough to remain within striking distance at halftime. Though the 16-point margin (24-8) seemed dubious, the Tigers clamped down using a press defense, inducing nine Green Dragon turnovers and limiting Lewisburg to nine points.
The only problem — East Juniata couldn’t convert the turnovers into points. Lewisburg limited the Tigers to four points each in the first and second quarters.
“They put the pinch on us defensively,” Quici said. “That first quarter — that’s what got us. There’s usually been one quarter in games that’s bitten us. It’s mostly been the third, but today, it was the first.”
Challenged by Quici and the Tiger staff at halftime, East Juniata came out firing in the second half, using a 10-2 run to climb within 10 of the Green Dragons (28-18) and keyed by Thea Neimond and Alyssa Robinson.
“We made some adjustments,” Quici said.
East Juniata scored 14 points in the third quarter, but Lewisburg took back control after committing five more turnovers and burning a timeout, scoring nine of the next 11 points to grab a 37-20 lead.
“We told the girls to slow it down a little bit,” Sample said. “They wanted us to play faster in that press.”
The Tigers forced 14 turnovers between the second and third quarters, and three more in the final stanza, but Lewisburg continued to slowly and steadily extend its lead. After the Tigers pulled within 39-26, the Green Dragons scored the game’s final 15 points.
Kelleher led Lewisburg with 20 points while Katy Martin chipped in 10 points and Roz Noone eight for the Green Dragons in the victory.
East Juniata got a pair of eight-point performances from Neimond and Robinson in defeat. Clayre Guyer was held scoreless by the Dragon defense, while seniors Carly Beaver and Alyssa Hibbs combined for 10 points (Hibbs six, Beaver four).
“We only lose two seniors off of this team, and we know we’ve got work to do in the offseason,” Quici said. “We want to be the type of team that comes up here and competes.”
Lewisburg 54, East Juniata 26
Amora Brubaker 0 0-2 0; Carly Beaver 2 0-0 4; Thea Neimond 4 0-1 8; Isabel Naylor 0 0-2 0; Alyssa Hibbs 2 2-2 6; Alyssa Robinson 4 0-2 8. Totals 12 2-10 26.
Did not score: Cypress Feltman, Clayre Guyer, Marissa Coudriet, Leah Sankey, Paige Ritzman, Tiana Terry
Grace Kelleher 5 9-10 20; Erin Hilkert 1 0-0 2; Ryliegh Faust 0 2-2 2; Sydney Hoffman 1 0-1 2; Katy Martin 5 0-0 10; Roz Noone 3 0-0 8; Jamie Fedorjaka 3 0-0 6; Regan Llanto 1 0-0 2; Hope Drumm 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 11-13 54.
3-point goals: Noone 2, Kelleher.
Did not score: Julia Foerster, Grace Rosevear, Anna Baker, Za’imah Tutler
Score by quarters
East Juniata 4 4 14 4 – 26
Lewisburg 15 9 13 17 – 54