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Juniata girls stay undefeated; defeat Red Raiders by 18


By Kenny Varner


MIFFLINTOWN – All season long, teams have been trying to knock off undefeated Juniata in girls basketball action. Night in and night teams found themselves getting blown out by the Indians’ potent offense led by Victoria Varner.

On Friday night, the Bellefonte girls had its chance to shutdown Varner and company as the two met for the first time.

The Red Raiders accomplished half its goals as it shutdown Varner for just eight points on the night.

However, teammate Rylie Duck stood up for the Indians lifting them over Bellefonte 52-34 at the Juniata gym.

To Bellefonte’s credit, the Lady Raiders held their foes to under their points per game average. That was something that Bellefonte coach Adam Gearhart was happy about.

“Defense was great tonight. I got everything I wanted defensively. We shut down Varner. I think she only had eight points. If we did that I thought we could win,” Gearhart said. “But they went to Duck. I think she is averaging over double-digits per game. I think we allowed her to make 20. Offensively, when we ran our offense working it in to the posts we were beating them and then we got away from that. The girls have to recognize that. When we run our offense and do what we want we can play really well. But if we get into some sloppy habits, some street ball and when we got back to our type of game we hung in the game.”

In the first quarter, Bellefonte got off to a strong start, stunning the Indians by trailing by just one point at the end of the stanza.

Lea McCartney, who finished with a double-double by posting 15 rebounds and 10 points, got the scoring started when she caught a pass underneath the basket for the easy bucket.

Both teams went back and forth for another two minutes without anyone scoring, forcing Juniata to call a time out with 5:21 left in the first.

However, after a missed Juniata basket, Bellefonte got the ball up the court in a hurry and into the hands of McCartney once again, upping the lead to 4-0.

Duck ended the short Bellefonte run by posting up and hitting her first bucket of the game, cutting the score in half with 4:26 left to go.

Jess Book continued the offensive run by the Lady Raiders as she drove it right to the heart of the Indians defense putting the lead back to four.

On Juniata’s next possession, Varner tried to get things started offensively but was fouled trying hit a bucket. She hit one of two, keeping the game close.

Forward Marisa Moriarta, who also finished with 10 points, caught a pass from Alexis Wetzler and sent it home, taking a 8-3 advantage.

As the minutes started to tick down, the Indians’ offense began to heat up, posting the final six points in the quarter, taking a 9-8 advantage.

Opening up the second period, the Juniata offense continued to roll, posting the first three buckets to take a 15-8 lead with just under four minutes left to go in the half.

In the run, Juniata got points from Amber Myers with four and Duck.

A jumper by Book ended the Juniata run and gave her her fourth point of the game, making it a 5-point contest.

Juniata continued to push the ball down offensively, leading to a 12-2 run the rest of the way. When the buzzer sounded to start the intermission, the Indians held a 27-12 lead.

Defensively, the Red Raiders shutdown the Indians to only 13 points in the third period. Unfortunately for Bellefonte, its offense could only muster 11 points, taking a 40-23 deficit into the final stanza.

In the fourth, the Red Raiders were able to cut the Indians’ lead to 14 points but that would be as close as they would be able to come on the night, falling 52-34.

Offensively, Duck finished with a game-high 21-point effort while teammate Janelle Swartz chipped in with 10.

McCartney and Moriarta were the only Red Raiders finishing in double-digits as both posted 10.

Juniata’s JV team also came out with the victory, barely defeating Bellefonte 24-17.

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