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Saint Joseph’s Academy edges East Juniata in a thriller

Photo by Jeff Shomo
By Kenny Varner

BOALSBURG – It was a battle from buzzer to buzzer.

Tuesday, it was the East Juniata boys team that made the trek up over the 7-Mountains to battle Saint Joseph’s Academy in a TVAA contest.

It was a not a contest for the claustrophobic as the two teams kept things within three for most of the entire game.

But in the final minutes, the young Wolfpack team found a way to pull out the hard fought victory over an also young Tiger teams playing with a tough group of sophomores, 43-36.

“I loved everything about tonight.We are a very very young team,” said Saint Joseph’s Academy coach John Straub. “We practice extremely hard. we played hard tonight. We never gave up. the kids are all in on what they are doing. We knew we had a very difficult schedule this year. but we’re going to keep getting better and playing hard. It was a fantastic night for it to pay off for all the hard work the kids have done.”

Both defenses stole the show as they kept the contest under 45 points each.

Offensively, the Wolfpack were led by Jayden Stamm’s 24-point effort. Five of those coming down the stretch in the final stanza to pull Saint Joseph’s away from the scrappy East Juniata squad.

East Juniata got a 10-point effort from Wrett Smith while teammate Simon Svicky finished with nine.

This is a young group we have. we graduated 10-11 seniors last season“, said East Juniata coach  Chris Lenig. “Being my first year not only with the program but as a coach we have four sophomores that start. They didn’t have any varsity experience before this season. We are only 6 or 7 games in. Obviously, it wasn’t the result they wanted. They battled! I have a scrappy bunch.”

Going into the final stanza, Saint Joseph’s held onto to a very slim 28-26 lead.

East Juniata penetrated the circle in its first possession, causing Svicky to get hacked while shooting. He hit 1-of-2, closing it to a 1-point deficit.

On the Wolfpack’s next possession, Matt James battled his way inside and was hit with a pass. James posted a turn around jumper, increasing the lead to 30-27 with 4:55 left.

But back roared the Tigers as they were able to go on a 5-0 run, giving them the lead.

In that run, Smith scored two, Clark Ritzman put in two and Jaiden May hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe, making it a 32-30 Tigers lead.

However, attempting to pull down a rebound, May fouled out with 3:30 left.

Stamm battled right back and played with ice water in his veins, popping a triple, putting the Wolfpack back ahead 33-32.

Ritzman was relentless as he put the East Juniata squad back in front on a leaner in the lane.

But like just a few seconds before, the Wolfpack used a three to take back the advantage. This time it was Sam Krasawitz that hit from beyond the arc, making it a 36-34 lead.

East Juniata would tie the game for the last time at 36, thanks to a free throw by Smith and one by Svicky.

But from there, the momentum shifted into the Wolfpack’s side as they went on a 7-0 run to secure the victory.

The Wolfpack opened the first quarter leading 10-8.

But the Tigers rebounded to take the advantage into the intermission 18-16.

But like the rollercoaster contest it was Saint Joseph took back the advantage after the third.

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