ALEXANDRIA - Basketball is an ironic game in that coaches spend so much time drilling their team on the Xs and Os of the sport, working on cutting, passing and penetrating the defense. However, the game ultimately comes down to who puts the ball in the basket more than the other team.
This irony was frustrating for Northern Bedford County on Wednesday night as the shots were just not falling in a 56-46 loss at Juniata Valley, putting their record to 11-5 on the season. The Panthers shot just 36 percent from the field.
"Our shooting in the first half was not good. We missed some easy shots," Northern Bedford coach Barry Crawford said. "Then we got into catch-up mode, and it's tough beating a good team on the road when you have to come from behind.
The Panthers may have missed plenty of makeable shots in the game, but Juniata Valley's defense certainly had something to do with it.
Coach Ron Anders switched from a man-to-man defense to a 1-3-1 zone defense early in the game. That paid immediate dividends as Northern Bedford began to settle for outside jumpers.
"We had three guys with two fouls within the first few minutes, so we decided to change to zone," Anders said. "We've been playing it pretty decent all year. We got some stops in it so we kept with it."
Sophomore Caleb Taylor was at the forefront of the defense. His pressure at the top of the zone created havoc among the Northern Bedford guards. He recorded five steals in the game to show for it.
"When we struggled shooting early, the zone just kept getting tighter into the paint," Crawford said. "Defensively, I thought we did well to stay in the game."
For most of the game, Northern Bedford was giving Juniata Valley just as much trouble on offense as it was getting. However, shots started to fall for the Hornets in the second half, and the lead ballooned to 15 entering the fourth quarter.
That was largely due to senior Stuart Borst's hot perimeter shooting in the third period.
"I was feeling good, and my teammates kept hitting me when I was open," Borst said. "I haven't been hitting them lately, so it felt good to get back on track today."
On the other side, Crawford was not too surprised by the loss.
"It wasn't a game we anticipated losing, but it's not one we anticipated winning either," he said. "It's a tough loss against a good team. We have to regroup and make a push to the playoffs."
Juniata Valley is now 8-7 thanks in large part to Borst's game-high 25 points.
"We played great. This is the first time all season we've been above .500," Borst said. "Our zone defense was awesome, and it's just a great win."
NORTHERN BEDFORD (46): Diehl 3 3-4 12, Barnes 3 1-1 7, Z. Pressel 4 0-0 8, T. Pressel 5 2-4 13, Oswalt 1 0-0 2, Litzenberger 0 0-0 0, England 2 0-0 4. Totals-18 6-9 46.
JUNIATA VALLEY (56): Borst 7 8-10 25, Grissinger 2 0-1 5, Taylor 2 0-0 4, Varner 5 3-6 15, Gardner 0 0-0 0, Maysonet 1 0-0 2, Leri 1 2-4 5, Collins 0 0-0 0. Totals-18 13-21 56.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Northern Bedford11 7 12 16 - 46
Juniata Valley7 19 19 11 - 56
3-point goals: Northern Bedford County 4 (Diehl 3, T. Pressel). Juniata Valley 7 (Borst 3, Grissinger, Varner 2, Leri).
Team records: Bellwood Antis (11-5); Juniata Valley (8-7).