HOLLIDAYSBURG - Separated by just one game in the win-loss column and entering the District 6 Class A playoffs as the four and five seeds, Juniata Valley and Blacklick Valley looked about as even as two teams can get, and the game played out that way through two quarters.
Tied 24-24 at the half, the Hornets stung Blacklick Valley with a 12-0 run to start the third quarter and went on to a 62-51 win to keep their season alive for at least two more games.
"It's great for a young team like ours to get a playoff win," Juniata Valley coach Ron Anders said. "We've got at least two more games to play. It'll be tough for us, but there's no pressure. We'll just go out and play."
Juniata Valley plays top-seeded Bishop Carroll Monday at a site and time to be determined. The winner of the that game advances to the championship game. The loser plays in the consolation game. The top three teams from District 6 advance to state playoffs.
Blacklick Valley's season ends at 15-8.
The decisive run started when Caleb Taylor converted a layup off an assist from Brett Grissinger. Taylor then stole the ensuing inbounds pass and made another layup for a four-point lead in a matter of a seconds.
After a Gordon Gable bucket put the Hornets up 30-24, Blacklick Valley called timeout, but it did little to slow Juniata Valley's growing momentum.
"The third quarter was a disaster," Blacklick Valley coach Gary Wurm. "We called timeouts to set things up, but the execution just wasn't there. We had a hard time getting into our offensive sets."
Taylor and Grissinger teamed up again for another two points, Jason Shawver scored on a putback and Kordell Collins sank a pair of free throws for a 36-24 lead.
Juniata Valley outscored the Vikings 21-5 in the quarter and when Gable put in on a layup early in the fourth quarter, the Hornets were up 18.
"The kids really got focused at halftime. They didn't want this to be their last game," Anders said. "They did a good job breaking down their zone. Once they went to man, I knew we had the advantage. We could just spread them out and drive to the basket."
Four Hornets finished in double digits led by Collins' 14. Shawver and Taylor scored 12 each, and Grissinger added 11.
Shawver also had a dozen rebounds for a double-double. The 6-foot-3 sophomore led Juniata Valley in the first half with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Shawver scored eight straight points early in the second quarter to put the Hornets ahead 17-11, but Blacklick came back to take a three-point lead late in the half.
JV's Ryan Norris drained a 3-pointer from the corner just before the buzzer to tie the game 24-24.
Vikings leading scorer Dalton Cesarz finished with a game-high 25 points, 11 of which came in fourth quarter with his team trailing by double digits.
Cesarz scored 13 points in the first half, but JV held the senior guard to just one point in the third quarter.
"We made him work hard for his shots. No one's going to completely shut him down," Anders said.
Blacklick whittled the Hornets lead to 10 points by midway through the fourth quarter and nearly drew to within seven. After Cesarz's 3-point attempt rattled in and out, Juniata Valley scored the next six points to seal the win.
"We got a little stagnant late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, but the kids responded and pushed it back up to 16," Anders said.
JUNIATA VALLEY (62): Grissinger 3 5-7 11, Gable 4 0-0 8, Taylor 6 0-0 12, Collins 4 4-4 14, Shawver 6 0-0 12, Maysonet 1 0-0 2, Norris 1 0-0 3. Totals - 25 9-11 62.
BLACKLICK VALLEY (51): Cesarz 10 2-3 25, Worthington 1 0-0 2, Sheesley 5 2-2 12, Paul 4 0-0 10, Stutzman 0 0-0 0, Lesso 1 0-0 2, Gaydos 0 0-0 0. Totals - 21 4-5 51.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Juniata Valley9 15 21 17 - 62
Blacklick Valley...............................9 15 5 22 - 51
3-point goals: Juniata Valley 3 (Collins 2, Norris); Blacklick Valley 5 (Cesarz 3, Paul 2).
Records: Juniata Valley (15-8); Blacklick Valley (15-8).