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East Juniata bows out of Districts

Red Tornadoes too much for the Tigers

Sentinel photo by JEFF FISHBEIN
East Juniata’s Cypress Feltman (No. 2) goes up for a shot against Mount Carmel’s Alyssa Reisinger (42) and Rachel Witkoski in a District 4 Class 2A playoff game Tuesday at Mount Carmel.

MOUNT CARMEL–The East Juniata Tigers were aware of the incredible up-hill battle they faced going into Tuesday’s matchup against Mount Carmel, which is why they were able to keep their heads held high, despite not being able to reach the peak.

The Red Tornadoes put on a great display of team basketball as they defeated the Tigers, 59-27, in the quarterfinals of the District 4 Class 2A tournament. Mount Carmel got out to a fast start, and the Tigers could not recover.

“We knew what we were getting into tonight. It didn’t take any of us off-guard,” Tigers coach Travis Quici said. “I will give credit where credit is due, that Mount Carmel team is absolutely phenomenal.”

Before the Tigers had the chance to blink, the Red Tornadoes were leading 16-4 in the opening minutes of the game. The Red Tornadoes played a full-court press, and the results came immediately. The Tigers turned the ball over on the inbound pass multiple times early on, leading the easy buckets for Mount Carmel.

The Tigers put forward a great effort, but the Red Tornadoes’ combination of size, speed and shooting ability was too much for the notoriously stout East Juniata defense.

Mount Carmel’s coach Lisa Varano wanted to acknowledge the season that the Tigers had, despite Tuesday not going in their favor. She and her team knew that the Tigers were going to continue to battle until time expired.

“East Juniata is a good team,” Varano said. “You don’t get to the playoffs if you’re not a good team. We’re fortunate we have some people that can play.”

The Tigers tried multiple different plans on defense, but the Red Tornadoes had an answer for all of them. If Alyssa Robinson and Marissa Coudriet double-teamed Danni Rae Renno, Mount Carmel’s six-foot plus center, she’d kick it out to an open teammate who would bury the shot.

To put it simply, the Tigers just couldn’t keep up.

Like many teams, East Juniata has had a few winnable games this season that they underperformed in. According the Quici, tonight was not one of those games — they happened to play one of the best teams in District 4 who was at the top of their game.

Quici was proud of the way his team conducted themselves, even with the sizable deficit they faced almost from the get-go.

“They didn’t get down on themselves. They didn’t pout. They didn’t get frustrated,” Quici said. “I thought their attitudes were (good), given the circumstances.”

After allowing the Red Tornadoes to score 31 points in the first, the Tigers’ defense settled down and played much better against a rotating slate of Red Tornadoes’ players. The next five players off the bench for Mount Carmel were stellar as well.

With Mount Carmel’s bench players taking most of the minutes in the second quarter, the Tigers trailed 45-16 at the half.

“I’ve been coaching basketball for 15 years and I think in those 15 years, I’ve seen maybe three teams that are that balanced, well-rounded and have size,” Quici said.

In the second half, the time ticked away as the running clock rule was put into place. The East Juniata seniors were able to take the floor one last time, wearing the maroon and grey jerseys with pride.

Quici also wanted to make sure his six seniors knew how much they were appreciated. Starters Amara Brubaker, Alyssa Robinson and Leah Sankey all contributed and made their impact felt while Isabel Naylor, Paige Ritzman, and Tiana Terry gave the Tigers some much needed time off the bench.

“Credit to my six seniors and credit to my juniors that got in the game,” Quici said. “I’m so grateful we had this opportunity to be here, and I think the girls feel the same. I’m gonna miss my seniors dearly.”

As much as the loss hurts, it in no way diminishes what the Tigers accomplished this year. The team posted a 9-7 record during the season, playing in a challenging Tri-Valley League.

Brubaker finished 13th in the league in scoring, averaging more than nine points per game in TVL play. Sankey finished fourth in the league with 33 assists and Cypress Feltman came in 10th with 29 assists. Feltman, Coudriet and Robinson all finished in the Top 10 in steals. Robinson also finished sixth in 3-pointers made.

“This doesn’t spoil the season,” Quici said. “They’re gonna face challenges and I’m happy for the girls that we were able to have a season. We were fortunate to get as far as we did. There were a bunch of teams that were done last week, but we got to play into this week, so we’ll put that notch in our hats.”

Mount Carmel 59, East Juniata 27

EAST JUNIATA

Alyssa Robinson 2 0-0 6, Amara Brubaker 2 1-2 5, Cypress Feltman 1 2-2 4, Marissa Coudriet 2 0-0 4, Leah Sankey 2 0-0 4, Isabel Naylor 2 0-0 4, Paige Ritzman 0 0-0 0, Grace Hibbs 0 0-0 0, Lexi Stuck, Carlee Barrick 0 0-0 0, Sara Brackbill 0 0-0 0. Totals: 11 3-4 27.

3-point goals: Robinson 3.

MOUNT CARMEL

Danni Rae Renno 5 0-0 11, Lauren Shedleski 4 0-0 10, Alyssa Reisinger 4 2-2 10, Mia Chapman 4 0-0 9, Caroline Fletcher 2 2-4 6, Maggie McCracken 2 0-0 4, Katie Witkoski 1 0-0 3, Lauren Aynes 1 0-0 2, Jenna Pizzoli 1 0-0 2, Molly McCracken 1 0-0 2, Rachel Witkoski 0 0-0 0, Sydney Reed 0 0-0 0, Ava Chapman 0 0-0 0, Sarah Sosky 0 0-0 0. Totals: 25 4-6 59.

3-point goals: Shedleski 2, M Chapman, Renno, Witkoski.

SCORE BY QUARTER

EJ: 9-7-4-7 27

MC: 31-14-12-2 59

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