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Juniata battles but falls to veteran Central squad

By Kenny Varner

MARTINSBURG – They battled to the buzzer.

Friday night the Juniata boys basketball team took its 12-10 record to Martinsburg to battled a veteran-laden Central team that has been taken care of its competition sporting a 18-5 mark in the Laurel Highlands Conference.

The Indians were led by Jasper Shepps who finished with 14 and teammate Wyatt Stover who had 11.

Leading the way for the dragons was the strong inside-outside game of Eli Muthler who tallied a game-high 28 points. He knocked down six treys on his way to being the high scorer.

But the Dragons notched the 67-43 win, ending Juniata’s season in the process.

“They played hard all night long. They have a very nice team and we knew that coming in they were strong, lengthy and Muthler could shoot and he was hot as a blister,” said Juniata coach Al Ream. “I’m pleased with my teams’ effort. They fought hard and they battled hard. We just came up short.”

In the first quarter, the Indians were able to keep pace with the Dragons.

Opening up the scoring was inside presence Brady Albright who picked up an offensive rebound a hit the putback.

Juniata tied it when Jasper Shepps stole a Central pass and took it in for the lay up.

Nick Garver put the home team back ahead on a jumper from inside the key.

Juniata floor leader Ricky Guante tied the game again as he hit a runner in the lane.

But the quickness and fast hands of the Dragons forced an Indian turnover when Hunter Smith got his name in the score sheet, grabbing the advantage once again for Central, 6-4.

Shepps muscled his way inside on the following Juniata possession, tying the young contest for the third time.

Central went to the long ball on the next possession as it worked the ball to a wide open Eli Muthler who was stranding beyond the 3-point line and hit nothing but net.

Grant Reinhold cut the Dragons lead to one as he went strong inside, making it a 9-8 Central lead.

But the Dragons defense forced the Indians to turn it over with Central going on a 6-0run to end the first quarter.

Central took control of the second quarter.

The Dragons continued its intensity on defense allowing only six points in the second.

Offensively, Central was able to mix up the shot selection going from outside to inside, resulting in a 17-point effort.

At the half, the Dragons held a 32-14 advantage.

Juniata came out of the intermission with guns blazing as Jasper Shepps came out with the touch hitting three triples from downtown while teammate Ricky Guante added one as well.

With the hot start, the Indians were able to nine with 5:23 left in the third.

From there both teams went toe to toe until the buzzer ended the third period with Central holding a 52-32 advantage. Juniata scored 16 in the quarter while Centrql had 20.

But unfortunately for the Indians, time ran out on the Indians and their season as the Dragons, who had a lot of depth on their bench outlasted them 67-43.

Juniata ended its season with a record of 12-11.

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