Indians outlast Buffaloes in thriller
Juniata surges back, holds on for victory
MIFFLINTOWN — Despite turnovers and missed opportunities, Juniata managed to fight its way back past rival Newport by 65-61 in a double-overtime thriller of a Tri-Valley League girls basketball game on Friday over at Juniata High School.
“Our girls haven’t played in the summer, we didn’t start our season until two weeks ago so the way they stepped up was awesome,” Indians coach Mike Smith said. “I had three freshmen in there at the end of the game and they stepped up in a major way for us, so I couldn’t be any happier with how they played there.”
Mackenzie Bennett got the ball rolling for the Indians in the opening quarter, driving toward the paint. Bennett scored 10 of the team’s 11 points in the frame.
Once Newport figured out who Juniata was running its offense through, the Buffaloes quickly went on the attack defensively, taking Bennett out the of equation and forcing numerous turnovers by the Indians.
The Buffaloes were also letting it fly from the 3-point line as Caire Weidenhammer dropped the hammer with three baskets made from beyond the arc. Her sister Ella Weidenhammer joined in on the action with a three of her own. The Weidenhammer sisters combined for 12 of Newport’s 15 total points in the quarter.
The Buffaloes’ defense continued to create more havoc for Juniata early on in the second quarter, turning it into easy transition buckets.
“The rust, the inexperience, they never played together. The whole offense is new and we had to put it together in seven days,” Smith said. “So the biggest difference will be that they haven’t played together on a regular. Even having a summer league together would have been nice and we didn’t have those opportunities. But the girls won this game, it wasn’t me.”
The Indians responded with a 12-0 run, led by the efforts in the paint by Ava Shearer, Talon Walton and Bennett took turns picking and popping their way onto the scoreboard.
Newport came back with a little run of its own behind the offensive attack from Payton Splain, who scored 13 points of the team’s 15 points in the frame.
But heading into the fourth quarter, the Juniata offense picked up the intensity in large part because of the effort from Shearer and Bennett from the mid-range.
The Indians had outscored the Buffaloes 14-8 in the final quarter. But with under 10 seconds to go in regulation, Juniata had three opportunities to drop in the game-winning basket but failed to connect.
In the first overtime, Juniata struggled to pull ahead as every time the Indians scored, Newport answered with a shot of its own, eventually forcing a second overtime.
In the second overtime Juniata put the pressure on the Newport defense forcing the Buffaloes into committing fouls and getting on the foul line to pull the game away.
The Indians were led by Bennett who scored 27 points in the game. Shearer and Walton also scored in double figures with Shearer scoring 16 and Walton adding 14 for the night.
“These kids, after not having any kind of conditioning for the longest time, we’re very fortunate, we feel very blessed to get to play the game this year,” Smith said.
The Indians also won the JV game, 29-14.
Juniata starts the season off (1-0, 1-0 Tri-Valley League) and will travel to face Millersburg today at 7:30 p.m.
Juniata 65, Newport 61 (2OT)
Haley Mummah 0 2-3 2, Shalelyn Armstrong 1 1-3 3, Talen Walton 3 7-9 14, Ava Shearer 7 2-6 16, Mackenzie Bennett 7 12-16 27, Lorena Rivera 0 0-1 0. Totals: 18 24-38 65.
3-point goals: Walton, Bennett.
Did not score: Cora Musser, Anna Mae O’Brien.
Hazel Miller 1 0-0 2, Caire Weidenhammer 5 1-3 15, Payton Splain 11 3-4 28, Sydney Daniels 3 3-4 10, Ella Weidenhammer 2 0-0 5. Totals: 22 7-11 61.
3-point goals: C.Weidenhammer 4, Splain 3, Daniels. E.Weidenhammer.
Did not score: Paige Gaermon.
Score by quarters
Newport 15-15-9-8-7-7 – 61
Juniata 11-16-6-14-7-11 – 65