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Lady Indians outlast Lady Raiders

By Kenny Varner
MIFFLINTOWN – The Juniata girls basketball team continues their successful run through its schedule, defeating a feisty Bellefonte team 53-40.
However, the Red Raiders didn’t make it easy for the Lady Indians as they kept the game close for most of the game before Juniata would extend the lead deep in the fourth.
Juniata’s floor leader Josie Swartz finished with a game-high 21 points while Bellefonte was led by the sharp-shooting efforts of Maddie Tice who finished with 16. Tice also battled for seven rebounds.
Olivia Clark chipped in for Juniata with a 14-point effort while Abbey Bruni helped out the Lady Raiders with 10 points to round out the double-digit scorers.
“Early turnover hurt us and foul shooting, we were 5-for-12 from the foul line and that also hurt,” Bellefonte coach Adam Gearhart said. “We didn’t box out. There were two possessions that Juniata got nine shots. They weren’t making them but we weren’t boxing out. You can’t give up that many opportunities to a team as good as Juniata. They’re going to take advantage of it sooner or later. That what it came down to.”
Going into the contest, the Lady Indians celebrated senior night honoring Swartz, Halee Decker, Mahala Laub, Kelsey Lowery and Ellie Shepps.
“Senior night is always is an emotional night and we wanted all five of our seniors to start. We got off to a slow start tonight. They (Bellefonte) made two threes to start out and we had to comeback from,” Juniata head coach Kevin Kodish said. “I was pleased for the most part. We had some pretty nice sequences in the first half. Olivia Clark had quite a few good buckets for us tonight. Josie Swartz was solid as always. Chloe Zendt also has a good fame for us as well.”
Opening things up, the Red Raiders opened with a triple from Bruni and Tice to take a 6-0 advantage just minutes in the game.
Swartz got things started as she cut the Red Raider lead in half with a triple of her own, making it 6-3 with 4:00 left in the first.
Juniata’s defense forced a turnover and got the ball back in the hands of Swartz. Swartz cut the lead to one, hitting a runner in the lane.
Chloe Zendt took over down low for Juniata as she hit two consecutive shots inside the paint, giving the Lady Indians the lead at 9-6 with under two minutes to go in the opening period.
Swartz made it a 12-0 run as she hit her second triple, upping the lead to 12-6.
After falling behind 14-6, Bellefonte ended the quarter on a positive note when Tice hit an inside jumper to end the first quarter scoring at 14-6.
Juniata came out of the second period holding the hot hand, outscoring the Lady Raiders 6-0 to start.
However, Bellefonte would give the Indians a run for their money in the period as they were able to cut the Juniata lead to single digits when the buzzer sounded.
Going into the half, Juniata held a close 26-19 advantage.
Early on in the third, Bellefonte was able to pull within four points at 28-24. Leading the run was Bruni and Tice who scored five consecutive points after an early bucket by Juniata’s Kelsey Lowery.
The 5-0 run was ended by the Lady Indians who then proceeded to go on a 8-0 run of their own to extend the lead back to a 12-point, 36-24 lead. In the run, Clark led the way with four.
Juniata was able to keep the Bellefonte at bay and thwarted any late comeback attempts as the Lady Indians held off the Lady Raiders 53-40.
Juniata is back in action Tuesday as they host the first round of the Tri-Valley League while Monday Bellefonte battles Central Mountain on the road.

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