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East Juniata holds off Bellefonte Ladies in opener

By Kenny Varner

MIFFLINTOWN – They fought hard until the end.
Despite committing over 20 turnovers on the evening, the Bellefonte girls basketball team kept its contest against East Juniata close, trailing by only three with 46 ticks left on the clock.
However, the Lady Tigers were able to prevent any good looks down the stretch, holding onto the scrappy 42-37 victory in the opening game of the season for both teams.
The Red Raiders got a strong game offensively from Maddie Steiner, who posted a game-High 18 points. Nine of those points came from beyond the arc.
East Juniata’s scoring was more spread across the board as center Haley Lash was tough in the paint on both sides of the ball, ending with a 13-point effort.
Teammate Carly Beaver followed Close with a 12-point effort.
“They(East Juniata) got most of the loose balls tonight. Any ball bouncing on the floor or a missed rebound they were getting them,” Bellefonte coach Adam Gearhart said. “Our speed and athleticism should have got to those. The 50/50 balls is what hurt us tonight. We have to get those. And we also talked about being aggressive. We weren’t as aggressive as we should have been. We weren’t taking advantage of the things we needed to take advantage of.”
Early on, the Lady Raiders opened sharply, putting up 14 first quarter points while holding the Lady Tigers to just nine points.
Steiner was one of three players posting four points in the opening quarter. Also posting four points were Mallorie Smith and Abby Bruni.
East Juniata scored the first bucket of the game when Carly Beaver took it right to the basket at the 5:50 mark.
On the following possession, Bruni hit Bellefonte’s first bucket.
After a missed East Juniata shot, the Red Raiders’ Steiner hit 2-of-2 from the charity stripe, giving her team the first lead of the game.
On the next EJ possession, Lash hit a bucket and a foul shot on an old fashioned three-point attempt, going up 5-4.
Steiner’s jumper in the lane put her team back in the lead, momentarily.
After a lay-in by Lily Sankey, Bellefonte scored the next six points, going up 12-7.
When the quarter ended, Bellefonte was up 14-9.
Defensively, the second quarter belonged to the Lady Tigers as the team was able to force turnovers and pull down offensive rebounds to outscore the Red Raiders in the second, 13-5.
When the teams went into the intermission, Bellefonte trailed East Juniata by three, 22-19.
East Juniata came out in the second half and was able to keep its distance on the scoreboard, outscoring the Red Raiders 11-9 in the third.
Heading into the final stanza, the Lady Tigers held a slim 33-28 advantage.
In the fourth, the Red Raiders came close but it wasn’t close enough as the team of mostly underclassman couldn’t find a way of erasing the Tigers the lead before the clock struck zero.
Bellefonte will be back in action today as it goes head-to-head with Juniata.

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