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Bellefonte heats up in second half to clinch Winter Jam title over tough Juniata team

By Kenny Varner

SPRING MILLS – While the Bellefonte boys basketball team thrilled it’s fan by living by the three in their win against Penns Valley, the Juniata Indians pulled out the thrill of victory and avoided the agony of defeat when both earned a trip to Ram Winter Jam Championship.

The two did battle in the title tilt and after a defensive battle ended, the Raiders claimed the title and the win, 48-32.

Despite the loss, Juniata coach Al Ream was proud of the effort his team showed in both contests.

“Our kids always come out and try to play their best game. The first game too a lot out of us because of the overtime and having to come back,” said Ream. “They (Bellefonte) has a well balanced team, good depth on their bench. They didn’t have to play quite as hard as we had to play.”

However, despite the loss, the Indians had quite a route to the championship game.

Juniata trailed going into the fourth quarter only to rally back and force overtime and taking the game going away.

Bellefonte had its offense working from the tip off.

Guard Nick Way got the Raiders started with a jumper at 7:05.

Gannon Brungard added to the Bellefonte lead with a lay-in in transition.

After the defense forced the Indians to a turnover Blair Eckley-Jones took advantage of the miscue and stood back from beyond the three-point line and hit nothing but net, upping it to a 7-0 lead, forcing an early time out from the Indians.

Bellefonte got the ball back to way and got it to Way. Way was automatic and hit the shot, making it 9-0.

Juniata battled back and went on a 5-0 run, cutting it to a 9-5 advantage.

In the run GG Ortiz scored all five points.

However, Eckley-Jones forced consecutive turnovers and turned them into easy baskets.

But Juniata once again dug down and cut into the lead once again and melted the lead to just three.

Bellefonte had the last say in the game as it scored the last five points of the period.

Juniata came back claw and scratching to get back into the game.

The Indians opened the second period on a run that would see them taking back the lead at 17-16.

But Bellefonte ended the period on a run that took back the lead 30-21 going into the final quarter.

Leading the game in scoring for Bellefonte were Blair Eckley-Jones 15 and Nick Way with 12.

Juniata got 10 from Ortiz in the contest.

From there both teams had its defenses working and when the dust settled the Raiders would survive a 48-32 game, earning them the victory.

The Ram Winter Jam All-Tournament was named and nominated were Ortiz, Austin Derr, Nick Way (Bellefonte), Justin Braucht (Penns Valley).

The Defensive MVP was won by Juniata’s Jacob Condo while the Offensive MVP was won by Bellefonte’s D’Andre McCaslin while Ram Winter Jam MVP was won by Bellefonte’s Blair Eckley-Jones.

Bellefonte 48, Juniata 32

BE 16 14 10 8 – 48

JU 10 11   5  6 – 32

Scoring: Bellefonte – Tye Kroell 2 1-3 6, Nick Way 4 3-7 12, Blair Eckley-Jones 6 0-0 15, Cole Crissman 1 0-0 2, D’Andre McCaslin 1 1-2 4, Gannon Brungard 2 2-4 6, Davis Corman 1 1-2 3. Totals 17 8-18 48.

Juniata – Caleb Smith 2 0-0 5, Jacob Condo 2 2-2 7, GG Ortiz 3 3-6 10, Evan Leach 2 2-2 4, Max Lauver 2 0-0 6. Totals 11 7-14 32.

Played but didn’t score: Bellefonte – Luke Fisher 0 0-0 0, Alex Ebling 0 0-0 0. Juniata – Austin Derr 0 0-4 0.

Three-point shots: Bellefonte – Kroell, Way, Eckley-Jones 2, McCaslin. Juniata – Smith, Condo, Ortiz, Lauver 2

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