EBENSBURG - The news was not all bad for the Juniata Valley girls basketball team.
The Green Hornets have known for at least a week they will stick around to play into next week. Furthermore, senior Allie Zinobile scored her 1,000th career point Thursday night in Juniata Valley's otherwise inauspicious 62-42 loss to Penns Manor in a District 6 Class A consolation game at Bishop Carroll High School.
Juniata Valley will take on the District 5 runner-up, Conemaugh Township or Southern Fulton, in a first-round playoff game on March 9 at a site and time to be determined.
Needing 11 points to reach 1,000, Zinobile achieved the milestone when she drove for a layin with 1:09 gone in the fourth quarter. She led the Green Hornets with 14 points and nine rebounds, although she had to work for just about everything she got.
"This past year she really developed into a good leader," Juniata Valley coach Rachelle Hopsicker said. "People look to her for rebounding [and] boxing out. You can see that she worked hard to develop her game. ... It'll be sad to see her leave. I only got to coach her for two years."
Penns Manor, coming off a 53-17 trouncing Monday by Bishop Guilfoyle that dropped the Comets into the third-place game, rattled off the game's first seven points and assumed a 27-12 lead at halftime.
"I know we started playing with a chip on our shoulder, and I felt like we had a lot to prove," first-year Penns Manor coach Jason Miloser said. "We felt like a lot of people were looking at us, thinking, 'Look at what Guilfoyle did. You're not a very good team. You don't deserve to go to states.' And that was our motivation for winning this third-place game."
The Comets' 2-3 zone defense prevented Zinobile from getting good looks inside the paint.
"We didn't move the ball around very well on offense," Hopsicker said. "We [also] missed a lot of shots in the first half. We didn't capitalize on stuff. [The Comets] played their game really well. They sat back in that 2-1-2, 2-3, whatever you want to call it. And they were patient and they played well."
"I'd rather play man-on-man than 2-3," Zinobile said. "Two-threes usually shut us down, and other teams are starting to realize that."
"Our big thing was locating where their two shooters were," Miloser said. "They have two really good shooters from the outside. And, obviously, the Zinobile girl is tough inside as well. So we had a lot of girls to worry about. But we located them and played pretty good defense tonight."
Penns Manor senior Krista Gillo fronted Zinobile inside the paint.
"We talked with Krista about fronting her at all times because she's such a great post player," Miloser said. "And Krista battled all night long [and] did a great job."
Constant defensive breakdowns exacerbated the Green Hornets' plight.
"We were on different pages at certain times," Hopsicker said. "We were on the 1-3-1 and some people were out there in the 2-3. It just wasn't our day today."
"Our defense wasn't there and our shots weren't falling," Zinobile said.
Hopsicker also cited injuries and sickness as mitigating factors on this night and, really, the entire season. An early season knee injury to Sam Anders, for instance, shelved the senior for the season's duration and especially hampered Juniata Valley's chemistry.
"She really gave us a sense of calm, and we really did miss her. And, obviously, this was tough for her to watch," Hopsicker said.
Zinobile's landmark hoop pulled Juniata Valley within 17, 47-30. Penns Manor led by as many as 24 before each team started to empty the benches.
Kerigan Ammerman added 10 points for the Green Hornets.
Gillo led all scorers with 22 points. She also grabbed 12 rebounds. Emma Myers added 19 points, four steals and four assists.
The Comets will face the District 9 runner-up, Clarion or Port Allegany, in a first-round playoff game on March 9.
SCORE BY QUARTERS:
Juniata Valley6 6 16 14 - 42
Penns Manor14 13 16 19 - 62
Juniata Valley (42): Leri 1 0-0 2, H.Myers 2 4-4 8, LeCrone 0 0-0 0, Zinobile 6 2-2 14, Ammerman 4 1-2 10, Keller 2 0-0 6, A.Miller 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 7-8 42.
Penns Manor (62): Tomayko 2 0-0 4, Gillo 9 4-5 22, Roach 4 0-0 8, DaBella 4 0-0 9, E.Myers 6 5-8 19. Totals 25 9-13 62.
3-point field goals: Juniata Valley 3 (Keller 2, Ammerman), Penns Manor 3 (E. Myers 2, DaBella).
Team records: Penns Manor (17-8), Juniata Valley (17-8).
Officials: Bill Antesberger, Enoch Ferencz, Justin Fraker.