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Juniata opens season with a win over tough Bellefonte girls team

Juniata 46, Bellefonte 35

B  1 8 14 12 – 35

J  9 8 10 19 – 46


Bellefonte – Emalee Neff 2 3-6 7, Emma Rossman 1 0-1 2, MacKenzie Ellenberger 0 2-4 2, Hana Rados 6 1-4 13, Madison Ripka 0 1-2 1, Maria Cotter 3 2-2 10. Total 12 9-19 35.

Juniata – Hailey Mummah 2 1-6 6, MacKenzie Bennett 6 1-1 17, Shaelyn Armstrong 1 1-2 3, Regan Lowery 3 4-5 10, Anna Mae OBrien 2 0-1 4, Ava Shearer 3 0-7 6. Total 17 7-24 46.

Played but didn’t score: Bellefonte – Sydney Hamilton 0 0-0 0, Keira Whitman 0 0-0 0, Alexis Kopcha 0 0-0 0, Angela Aviles 0 0-0 0.

Juniata – Mariska Beward 0 0-0 0, Ima Mercado 0 0-0 0, Tallon Walton 0 0-2 0.

3-point shots – Bellefonte – Cotter 2. Juniata – Mummah, Bennett 4.

By Kenny Varner

MIFFLINTOWN – Two familiar teams met up to renew their yearly meetings Friday night when the Juniata girls basketball team hosted Bellefonte once again in its Annual Juniata County tip-off tournament at the Indians gym.

Offensively, the Indians got off to a strong start in the first and was able to keep that lead the entire game despite a second half push by the Raiders.

When the clock expired, Juniata was able to pull out the 46-35 win.

Leading the offensive punch for the Indians were MacKenzie Bennett and Regan Lowery who finished with a 17-point and a 10-point performance respectively.

Twelve of those points by Bennett came from beyond the 3-point line.

“I think overall we played pretty good. I think we were nervous early on. We missed a lot of chip shots if we would have made it it could have been a 20-30-point lead,” Juniata coach Mike Smith said. “I wanted to get some people through and see different looks. I thought we had a pretty nice game.”

Bellefonte picked up scrappy offensive efforts from Hana Rados who finished with 13 and teammate Maria Cotter who rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10.

“We only had nine points at halftime and we finished with 35 so that’s really good in things that we were doing,” said Bellefonte coach Marcus Toomer. “We were able to get more shots go down and our defense stepped up. I think we had some good looks at the basket but it just didn’t go in for us today. They shouldn’t feel bad about what they did. They played hard, they battled and we got it pretty close. I think it was within one at one time. They got there.”

The Raiders led on the boards by a 40-28 margin.

It would help lead the visitors to a second half comeback that would put the Raiders within striking distance before Juniata would regroup and finish with the hot hand in the fourth.

Opening the game, both teams started slow off the block as the Indians’ defense held Bellefonte to just a foul shot by Emalee Neff.

Offensively, Bennett started out with a triple and a jumper in the lane for a 5-point effort. But when the clock wound down at the end of the first, the Indians had a strong 9-1 advantage.

Juniata was able to crash the inside and refused to allow any Bellefonte player to get a clean of close look at the basket.

Bellefonte started to heat up in the second though thanks to the relentless effort inside by Rados. Rados scored four points and both were strong runs inside the lane which ended up hitting nothing but net. Her team rallied behind her and finished with eight.

However, the Indians refused to budge on the scorebook as they scraped and clawed their way to an 8-point period themselves.

When the two team’s went into the intermission, Juniata held a seemingly comfortable 17-9 advantage.

Like in last season’s contest between the two, Bellefonte came out with a mission in the third quarter waiting to  cut into the Juniata lead.

After a bucket from Juniata’s Ava Shearer, the Raiders went on a tear as they took their offensive aggressiveness up a notch, going on a 9-0 run.

Again it would be the strong inside effort by Rados that would spark the team as they pulled within three with 2:54 left in the third period.

Before the period ended, Bellefonte had itself within striking distance, trailing only by a score of 27-23.

But a good basketball team can always rally from adversity and Juniata did just that coming back alive in the final stanza.

Bellefonte was able to pull within one but the sharpshooting effort of Bennett continuously would thwart any comeback attempt by the Raiders.

She did it from 3-point land where she hit two separate triples after Bellefonte mini runs.

In the end, the Indians were able to stop the Raiders and pick up their first win of the season.

Bellefonte will be back in action Saturday at East Juniata while Juniata takes on Southern Huntingdon.

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