Steals, fast break too much for Trojans
MOUNT UNION – The Trojans knew they would be in for a test facing off against the top team in the Inter-County Conference to start league play.
Mount Union’s youth showed, as its offense could not get going early and a suffocating press for the Juniata Valley girls’ basketball team proved to be too much for the Trojans in a 79-10 loss to the Hornets in an ICC girls’ basketball contest on Monday night at Mount Union.
The Trojans struggled to break the press and couldn’t keep pace on the offensive end, as Juniata Valley’s Halee Smith and Hayden Taylor combined for 38 points in the Hornets’ victory.
The Hornets (2-1, 1-0 ICC), who went 22-4 a season ago before losing to West Middlesex in the second round of the PIAA Class 2A tournament, began the contest on a 32-1 scoring run as Mount Union struggled to find its footing on the offensive end.
Juniata Valley found easy offense in transition throughout the first half, using multiple steals to create easy runouts. The Hornets did an excellent job of making the extra pass, leading to easy buckets.
“We find that with our team our defense leads to our offense,” Juniata Valley coach Rachelle Hopsicker said. “If we play intense defense it really flows into our offense. The kids do a great job of finding the open player and making that extra pass. That’s what set us apart I think.”
The full-court press gave Mount Union fits in the opening half, creating the sizable gap on the scoreboard.
“I anticipated the press, but I didn’t think that we were going to handle it that poorly,” Mount Union coach Chris Lehman said. “There was some basic stuff we could’ve done better. I just think our kids weren’t prepared for their type of press.”
With the game out of reach, Smith put in a jumper with 6:21 left in the third to set a new program record for career points at Juniata Valley. The senior forward now has 1,543 points in her career, breaking the previous mark of 1,539.
“She is a program changer,” Hopsicker said. “She raises the level of everybody. Athletically and academically, she is an all-around great player.”
For the Trojans, the loss was a tough lesson that will showcase the work it has to do to contend against the top team in their conference.
“I think we can learn from every part of a game like this,” Lehman said. “Basically, there were a lot of mistakes that we made and a lot of good things that they did. There are some things that we went over in practice we couldn’t implement on the court. It’s just going to be a learning process each game.”
Despite the loss and a running clock, Mount Union fought throughout the contest. Karrigan Woodward found the back of the net on a strong drive to the basket and eventually added two more points at the line in the third. She also registered four steals.
Kendra Gardner and Minerva Sheeder also hit shots from the floor. Kadyn Crisswell and Camille Posey each scored at the free-throw line.
Woodward and Crisswell each had three rebounds.
“The positive is that we continued to play, and we played together,” Lehman said. “The key is we played together. I didn’t see anybody pointing fingers or anything like that.”
Smith led Juniata Valley with 22 points, while also collecting six steals, three rebounds and two assists. Avery Taylor had 12 points, eight rebounds and four steals.
Mount Union returns to action on Wednesday night with a 6 p.m. game at Fannett-Metal.
Juniata Valley won the JV game 38-20. Chelsea Williams led Mount Union with 10 points.
Juniata Valley 79, Mount Union 10
Halee Smith 10 2-2 22, Hayden Taylor 7 0-0 16, Avery Taylor 5 2-2 12, Olivia Smith 5 2-2 12, Emma Musser 3 0-0 6, MaKenna Hartman, Mae Payne. Totals: 35 6-6 79.
3-point goals: Hayden Taylor 2, Mae Payne 3.
Did not score: Makayla Moskel, Makenzie Houck.
Karrigan Woodward 1 2-2 4, Kendra Gardner 1 0-2 2, Minerva Sheeder 2 0-0 2, Kadyn Crisswell 0 1-2 1, Camille Posey 0 1-2 1.
Did not score: Sophie Smith, Madasyn Krepps.
Score by quarters:
JUNIATA VALLEY 28-20-14-17 – 79
MOUNT UNION 0-3-4-3 – 10