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Juniata falls to tough Halifax squad in TVAA semis

By Kenny Varner

HALIFAX – Looking for the upset, the Juniata boys basketball team opened its post season with a berth in the Tri-Valley Athletic Association’s playoff to determine the League Champion.

In the Semi finals, the Indians went up against a juggernaut in 20-2 Halifax Monday evening at the Wildcats home gym.

The Indians are trying to get revenge from their earlier season loss against Halifax, 69-31.

However, the Wildcats showed why they were undefeated in TVAA action , dominating the inside and controlling the tempo of the game en route to a 69-34 victory.

The Halifax win keeps its unbeaten streak in the Tri-Valley League still intact.

“We got beat by a  really good team , a team that moves quickly, pushes the ball and also can shoot,” said Juniata coach Al Ream. “They are nine to ten deep that can come off the bench and not lose a stride. We could not match up to them tonight.”

Juniata was led in the offensive department by Wyatt Stoner who finished with 14. Highlighting the night was an early first quarter triple.

Jasper Shepps finished with seven points on the night as the Indians’ second leading scorer.

Halifax was led by Justin Zahwak who finished with 13 points and five boards. Teammates Gage Storm and Waid Garner were right behind Zahwak as both notch 12-point performances.

In the first, the Indians found the scoreboard first when Stoner squared up and hit a triple off the opening tip.

But the Wildcats were lightning fast in their tempo and their scoring as they went on a 10-0 run on buckets by Mason Enders, Storm, Garner and Zahwak, giving the home team a 10-3 advantage with three minutes left in the quarter.

But Stoner would end Juniata’s scoreless drought, knocking down a field goal, cutting the Wildcats’ lead to only five points.

But back came Halifax as they were very opportunistic on the defensive end and on the boards. Two consecutive offensive boards by Zahwak, increased the Wildcats lead to 15-14.

Trailing 15-5 after a Halifax free throw, Caden Swailes got the Indians back on the scoreboard, on a strong bucket underneath.

But the rest of the quarter was all Halifax, finishing up the stanza on two free throws, ending it at 16-9.

Halifax came alive in the second period as it got sizzling hot from the field outscoring Juniata 28-5.

When the two teams went into the intermission, the Wildcats led 44-12.

But the Indians continued to battle even though the game was in the mercy rule status.

The feisty group went toe-to-toe with Halifax. Halifax barely outscored Juniata in the third by a 14-13 margin.

But it was too little too late for the Indians to make any kind of comeback against the veteran-laden Wildcats.

In the end, Halifax advances to the championship with the 69-34 victory.

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