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Juniata girls start season off on right foot

By Kenny Varner

COCOLAMUS – It was the Wiley veterans against the young up and comers Friday night in the opening game of the Juniata County Tip-Off Challenge held at the East Juniata gym.
Juniata, coached by legendary coach Kevin Kodish took on the small but mighty Bellefonte Lady Raiders to get their respective seasons underway.
In the end, the more experience-laden Lady Indians were too much for the Red Raiders.
Game. Set. Match for Juniata as the Indians got strong performances by its defense and offensive efforts by Josie Swartz (14), Olivia Clark (11) and Grace Brocious (8).
“It was a great way to open the season for us. We wanted to come out with a lot of electricity We came out with a strong defense and I thought we set a tone for the game,” Juniata coach Kevin Kodish said. “We ran the floors nice. I thought everyone played well tonight.”
Fighting tough but not being able to capture the win, Bellefonte got five point efforts by Mallorie Smith, Abbey Bruni and Raisa Gasior. Maddie Steiner led the team with a 7-point effort.
In the first quarter, the Bellefonte defense held early on, only allowing six points in the first three minutes. In that time span, the Lady Raiders had two blocks out of their three first half blocks.
However, the Indians came firing back with 12 points the rest of the opening stanza to take an overwhelming 18-2 advantage.
Pacing Juniata was the shooting of Josie Swartz who had a quarter high seven points while Bellefonte lone bucket came from the hands of Kara Bates.
The game slowed down for the Red Raiders as they were only outscored 12-8 in the second quarter.
Raisa Gregor led the way with a triple while Juniata picked up a four point effort by Olivia Clark.
Juniata’s defense had it’s A-game going forcing the young Red Raiders into numerous turnovers that are seen by an inexperienced young team.
In the second half, Juniata kept its distance as it rolled off a 12-point third quarter led by Clark and Josie Swartz with four each.
Bellefonte kept battling as it scored nine, three of which came from the triple by Steiner.
The Lady Raiders had its highest out put in the final stanza but it was too little too late as the Indians went onto the 55-32 victory.
“i’m a little disappointed tonight. They came out with more energy.I’ve been telling these girls for two weeks that Juniata is going to come out strong and fast. They are going to shoot the passing lanes,” Bellefonte coach Adam Gearhart said. “Everything I told them to do they didn’t do. Everything I told them not to do they did.”
Bellefonte will play East Juniata today at 1:30 while Juniata plays Southern Huntingdon at Juniata high school in its second day of the classic.

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