Last Thursday and Friday the boys and girls basketball teams played against EJ with back-to-back games. Neither game disappointed the large audience that is always expected for EJ vs Juniata games. This year both varsity teams came out victorious, alongside the girls JV basketball team.
The long time rivalry between Juniata and EJ has always stood out in basketball, no matter what, their never ending fight for victory fuels these teams until the last second. This past Thursday, the Juniata Indians girls basketball team faced off against the EJ Tigers in a tight game. The Tigers were always behind Juniata every step of the game, but their relentless spirit managed to give the Tigers a second chance to win. By the end of the 3rd quarter, Juniata was in the lead 24-21, but throughout the 4th quarter EJ closed the gap even more, however Juniata remained in the lead 28-27. With a little over 30 seconds left of the game things took an unexpected turn— Sara Brackbill tied up the score 29-29, but Juniata’s Ava Shearer was not having it, she fouled out Grace Hibbs and regained Juniata's lead 32-29. As the clock ticked down EJ’s chance of victory was slim, with many accepting the reality of loss, but Cade Becker nailed a 3 pt shot at the very end of regulation, which evened the score. In overtime, the Indians weren’t going to give in to EJ’s comeback, they put pressure on them both offensively and defensively. This determination held the Tigers scoreless for the whole of overtime, securing the Indian win. Ava Shearer was the highest scorer with a total of 16 points.
In the fight for bragging rights the girls came out victorious, now everyone wondered, what about the boys? This past Friday the boys basketball faced our cross-county rivals the EJ Tigers. In the first half, the Tigers outscored the Indians 21-14, however this did not last long. Early on Juniata’s defense made it clear for EJ that it was going to apply pressure from all sides; they blocked the middle so that Dylan Wagner couldn’t elevate the score. At the end of the third quarter, Juniata headed into the final period with a slim lead of 30-27. For the majority of the 4th quarter neither team managed to score any points, until Wyatt Stoner scored with 5:30 minutes remaining. This point made the game alive once again because shortly after Stoner's shot, EJ’s Owen Dressler responded with a 3 pointer. From that point forward the court became a battle field for these long-time rivals, both hoping to come out as winners. Aggression, intensity, and technique were present in the second part of the 4th quarters with both teams fighting for every last basket. Within the last 30 seconds of the game, the Indians possessed a small 41-37 lead, when Dressler miraculously shot from the 3 point line and cut the difference to 41-40. The Tigers had possession of the ball for 2 short seconds before Juniata regained the ball and ran the clock out for the remainder of the game. Juniata won its 2nd Varsity win against the East Juniata Tigers. For the boys game Caleb Smith was the top scorer.