HOLLIDAYSBURG - The Juniata Valley Green Hornets were the top-scoring team in the North Division of the Inter-County Conference, finishing the regular season with 1,415 points, an average of 64.3 per game.
Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic, on the other hand, competes in the rough-and-tumble Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference, where it preferred to win defensive battles.
The two conflicting styles met in the District 6 Class A semifinal game Thursday night at the Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School, with the Marauders edging the more offensive minded Hornets, 38-37.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
BG’s Damon Rickens shoots over Juniata Valley’s Brett Grissinger.
"It was exactly the tempo of game we needed," Bishop Guilfoyle coach Josh Baker said. "That's just the type of team we are."
"We tried to create a tempo, but we never were able to accomplish that," Juniata Valley coach Ron Anders said. "It was a little slower for our liking."
After combining for just 11 points through one period, and the Hornets leading 6-5, both teams heated up from beyond the 3-point arc for the first half of the second quarter, with Brandon Drenning and Patrick Irwin both making one for the Marauders and Stewart Borst and Mason Varner draining threes for the Hornets.
Neither team was able to make any more treys during the last four minutes of the first half and only combined for a single basket. At the end of the half, Juniata Valley held a 15-13 lead.
The Hornets fought off Bishop Guilfoyle's best efforts to take the lead in the third quarter. Although the Marauders tied the game twice in the quarter, Baker's bunch did not take its first lead since early in the second quarter until a desperation shot by Pat Irwin from more than 15 feet beyond midcourt went in just as the buzzer sounded. It gave the Marauders a 28-26 edge.
"That gave us an emotional lift," Baker said of Irwin's highlight-reel shot. "It carried us through the early part of the fourth."
The fourth quarter turned out to be as entertaining of a quarter as you could possibly have.
Following a jumper by Zane Snyder that gave the Marauders a 30-26 lead, Borst answered immediately with a trey that cut the Hornets' deficit to one. Nate Nardelli, on Bishop Guilfolye's next possession, made a jumper of his own.
Borst was determined not to let his team lose and sunk his fourth and final shot from long distance on his team's next possession. His last trey tied the game at 32-32 with 6:20 remaining in regulation.
Bishop Guilfoyle had a 38-34 lead with 50 seconds left, courtesy of back-to-back buckets by Tai Irwin. After Varner made 1-of-2 at the charity stripe for the Hornets and C.J. Fulare didn't convert on a one-and-one, Varner's layup with 10 seconds left cut the Hornets' deficit to one.
Following another failed foul shot by a Marauder, the Hornets had one final possession to win. Varner took and missed a jumper just inside of the 3-point arch.
"He makes that shot a very high percentage of the time," Anders said. "We had a shot to win it, and that's all that matters."
JUNIATA VALLEY (37): Borst 5 4-6 18, Maysonet 1 0-0 2, Grissinger 0 0-0 0, Taylor 3 0-0 7, Varner 4 1-2 10, Leri 0 0-0 0, Gardner 0 0-0 0. Totals - 13 5-8 37.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE (38): P. Irwin 3 1-3 9, Sullivan 0 0-0 0, Nardelli 3 0-0 6, Fulare 0 0-1 0, T. Irwin 7 0-0 14, Snyder 2 2-2 6, Drenning 1 0-0 3, Patterson 0 0-0 0. Totals - 16 3-6 38.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Juniata Valley691111 - 37
Bishop Guilfoyle581510 - 38
3 point goals: Juniata Valley 6 (Borst 4, Taylor, Varner );Bishop Guilfoyle 3 (P. Irwin 2, Drenning).
Records: Juniata Valley (13-10); Bishop Guilfoyle (13-10).