Tigers claw back from slow start, top Eagles in Cocolamus
COCOLAMUS–After a slow start in Monday night’s game, the East Juniata Tigers fought back and pulled out the 56-53 win over Line Mountain at East Juniata High School.
Billy Dressler was the high scorer of the game, dropping 21 points and grabbing six rebounds in the Tigers’ wild win.
East Juniata lost its first game of the season and looked to get in the win column against a Line Mountain team who also struggled in its season opener. The Eagles scored just 12 points in the second half in its loss to Midd-West but its offense came into Monday night’s game firing on all cylinders.
Line Mountain got off to a fast start, putting the Tigers on their heels. East Juniata did not help its cause, as forced shots and costly turnovers put them behind the 8-ball within the first few minutes of the game.
It was Cameren Hunsberger who helped the Eagles jump out early as he hit two 3-pointers giving the Eagles a 8-2 lead. East Juniata coach Chris Wolfkill called a timeout, looking to stall Line Mountain’s momentum and swing the game in the Tigers’ favor.
For the remainder of the first quarter, the Eagles continued to apply pressure and made the East Juniata offense look uncomfortable on seemingly every possession. By the end of the quarter, the Tigers faced a 16-4 deficit.
Wolfkill knew that with three quarters still to play, his team was not out of it.
“We came into the second quarter and I said ‘Listen. This is where we need to be by the end of the second quarter,” Wolfkill said.
East Juniata used the second quarter to claw its way back into the game. After only scoring four points in the first, the Tigers offense tallied 19 points and cut the lead down to 30-23 at the half.
Dressler was the spark that East Juniata needed as he led the offense to a much more efficient quarter. Dressler scored 11 points in the second and kept the Tigers’ hopes alive with the second half to play.
Both defenses stepped up in the third quarter, as each offense was only able to score 11 points. Five different Tigers scored in the third but the sharing of the ball did not help East Juniata in its comeback attempt as it still trailed by seven going into the final quarter.
Big man Andrew Hunter led the charge in the fourth as the Tigers began the quarter on a 12-0 run giving themselves a five-point lead — their first lead of the game. Hunter was crucial in that run, hitting two shots from the floor, including a baseline 3-pointer.
“I can’t say enough about Hunter. He didn’t start the first game of the year. He came back in this game, and started,” Wolfkill said. “He knocked the big shots down when we needed them.”
Hunter also stepped up on the defensive end. Both he and Tanner Barth were assigned to cover Riley Young, who was the leading scorer for the Eagles and their only source of consistent offense. Hunter and Barth limited Young to only four points in the fourth quarter, preventing Line Mountain from climbing back into the game.
Dressler, Barth, Ethan Roe and Xavier Clement all hit free throws at the end of the game, securing East Juniata’s comeback win.
Wolfkill thinks that this win will help his team gain some confidence and momentum going into a big matchup later in the week.
‘It was awesome. The kids are really, really excited,” Wolfkill said. “I think momentum going into Juniata is a big (thing). Its our crosstown rival… we’re gonna practice tomorrow and get ready for them.”
East Juniata’s game against Juniata will be played on Thursday at Juniata.
East Juniata 56, Line Mountain 53
Riley Young 7 4-7 18, Cameren Hunsberger 4 0-1 11, Tyler Bradley 5 0-2 10, Rhett Klinger 2 0-0 4, Colton Smith 2 0-0 4, Brent Barwick 1 0-0 3, Caden Lahr 1 1-3 3. Totals: 22 5-14 53.
3-point goals: Hunsberger 3, Barwick 1
Did not score: Jeremy Lubnow, Maverick Bradigan, Travis Feese, Jace Hackenburg.
Billy Dressler 5 10-13 21, Andrew Hunter 4 2-2 11, Tanner Barth 2 5-6 9, Ethan Roe 1 4-7 7, Xavier Clement 1 4-5 6, 1 0-0 2. Totals: 14 25-33 56.
3-point goals: Dressler 1, Roe 1, Hunter 1
Score by quarters:
East Juniata 4-19-11-22–56
Line Mountain 16-14-11-12–53