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Mifflinburg outlasts Juniata

By Kenny Varner
SPRING MILLS – After a slow start in the first half, the Juniata boys basketball team fell behind 30-14.
However, the Indians were able to battle back in the second half and widdled the Wildcat lead to 11 midway through the fourth.
However, Middleburg was able to block the run and go on one as well, holding off Juniata 56-38 in the opening game of the Rams Winter Jam at Penns Valley High school Thursday.
Juniata was led in scoring by Ben Lauver who finished with a 17-point effort and 10-rebound night in a losing effort.
Mifflinburg was led by the opportunistic play of Jordan Tyson who went for 18 points and numerous steals. Tyson was a thorn in the Indians side on defense as when he wasn’t stealing the ball, he was forcing the Juniata players into bad passes.
“I was very proud of the kids the way they fought back. We were down 16 at halftime. The kids came back in the second half and played great defense to get back in the ball game,” Juniata coach Al Ream said. “We had a chance. We were down by 11 with the ball we missed a lay up and missed a free throw now they hit a three and a free throw and they’re up by 15. Very proud of how they came out in the second half and the heart they showed.”
Going into the second half, the Indians were looking at a 30-14 deficit.
The Wildcats struck first as Tyson got loose on the break and make a lay up, upping it to 32-14.
Juniata got on the scoreboard less than a minute later when Lauver got loose underneath for a put in.
Tyson beat the Juniata defenders off the dribble to extend the Mifflinburg lead back to 18.
After a Wildcat technical the Indians shrunk the Mifflinburg lead to 14 thanks to two free throws from Lauver and a jumper by Devon Nealman, 36-22.
The quick turnaround by the Indians forced Mifflinburg to call a time out.
Nealman went inside this time, cutting the lead to 36-24 with 3:23 left in the third.
Just as the Juniata comeback was mounting, Wildcats guard Daniel Zack got into the act and picked up two consecutive steals, taking the lead back up to 16.
Lauver brought his team to within 14 but Mifflinburg’s Adam McArdle-Coe went one-for-two from the charity stripe to take a 41-26 advantage going into the final stanza.
Mifflinburg came out and hit the first three-points to up the lead to 44-26.
But the Indians were able to set Trevor on the bench with foul trouble at the beginning of the period.
A long triple by Bryce Leonard followed by a strong bucket inside on consecutive drives, cut the Wildcat advantage to 44-31.
After a Mifflinburg bucket, Nealman hit one from downtown to inch closer, 46-34.
On the following possession, Zack hit one-of-two from the free throw line to take a 13-point advantage with 3:51 left.
Lauver brought his team within striking distance of the lead as he went strong in at the bucket with 3:43 left, trailing only by 11.
However, Mifflinburg was tough down the stretch and was able to outscore Juniata 9-2 en route to the 56-38 victory.
In the opening period, the Mifflinburg defense forced numerous Juniata miscues to take a 17-9 lead going into the second quarter.
Juniata was held in check in the second quarter, being outscored 13-5 and falling behind 30-14 at the intermission.
Juniata will be back in action today in the next round of the Ram Winter Jam at 6pm.

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