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East Juniata outlasts Midd-West in opening night thriller

Photo by Bob Hockenbrock!!

By Kenny Varner

MIDDLEBURG – Wow! What an ending!!!

It was a nail biting, jaw dropping open at Midd-West for the Mustang boys basketball team and the East Juniata boys as they met in a thriller Saturday night.

It was a game that more of a post season feel to it than a home opener as the Tigers were able to battle their way to the 58-56 win over the Mustangs.

“They’re (Midd-West) a real good team. They have a lot of energy, they play physical. They play smart and have good guards and are good shooters. Their shooting kept them in the game tonight,” said East Juniata Coach Justin Hazel. “I was proud of our guys. Obviously, the first game of the year you want to clean up a lot of those turnovers. But they handled themselves well down the stretch tonight.”

“Lady Luck” made her presence known on the next to last possession of the ball game

Going into the final minute of the game, the score was tied at 56 with 16 ticks on the clock. East Juniata had the ball and there was a battle for the rebound under the Tigers basket, during the scrum for the ball, it had bounced off a Mustang player and tipped off the fingers of Smith and up and in, putting the Tigers ahead late.

Midd-West had its chances as they brought the ball up but East Juniata had fouls to burn and did just that keeping the Mustangs out of sync.

Finally with four seconds left, Midd-West went to the middle only to have their shot blocked by big man inside Wagner.

However, Midd-West got one last look as Erb tried to hit the triple to win the game. The ball hit beside the net, giving East Juniata the victory.

Defensively, the Tigers held the edge in the rebounding department, out rebounding Midd-West 37-10.

Offensively, East Juniats finished with four players in double-digit scoring.

Leading the way on the night was Jake Brackbill’s 17-point effort while teammate Rowen Smith finished with 15. Brackbill, Smith and Owen Dressler all captured triple doubles in the last second victory.

Rounding out the double was Dylan Wagner and Dressler with an 11-point and a10-point effort, respectively.

On the Midd-West side, Easton Erb lit things up from beyond the arc, posting 18 of his 23 total from 3-point land.

Teammate Noah Romig finished with 11 points while Cole Shutt tallied 10.

The game started out as close as it ended.

In the first quarter, the two battled back and forth with the Mustangs leading 15-13.

Leading the way was Erb with nine points, all of which were triples.

East Juniata was able to get six points from hardworking Brackbill who seemed to be doing everything that needed to get done I. The period.

East Juniata’s defense held strong in the second quarter as they quieted the Mustang’s shooting to only eight points.

It’s offense was very efficient again, posting a 15-point effort in the period. Smith tallied five in the period while Brackbill and Wagner chipped in four each, making it a 28-23 lead at the intermission.

Midd-West came out of the halftime focused and ready to cut back into the East Juniata lead.

Romig and Erb had the hot hands in the period as they both finished with five in the quarter.

Going into the final stanza, East Juniata clung to a 43-41 advantage.

Midd-West tied things to open the period on a jumper by Paige, knotting it at 43.

From there it was a back-and-forth battle to the end.

With the help of the strange bucket, the Tigers held on to with the Saturday night thriller.


East Juniata 58, Midd-West 56

EJ    13 15 15 15 – 58

MW 15  8. 18 15 – 56

Scoring: East Juniata – Rowan Smith  7 1-2 15, Jake Brackbill 4 7-9 17, Clark Ritzman 1 0-0 2, Dylan Wagner 6 1-2 13, Owen Dressler 3 2-2 11  Totals 17 11-15 58.

Midd-West – Brandon Reed 2 0-2 6, Easton Erb  8 1-2 23, Griffen Paige 2 1-2 6, Cole Shutt 5 0-0 10, Noah Romig 5 0-0 11. Totals 22 2-8 56.

Played but didn’t score: East Juniata – Brady Roe 0 0-0 0, Tanner Barth 0 0-0 0, Caden Geedy 0 0-0 0. Midd-West – Garrett Leitzel 0 0-2 0.

3-point shots: East Juniata – Dressler 3. Midd-West – Erb 6, Romig, Reed 2, Paige.


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