Lady Eagles fall to Juniata

HUNTINGDON – With Juniata junior Victoria Varner just 18 points away from 1,000 for her career, many spectators on hand were discussing the celebration that would occur when she passed the milestone.

Thanks to a terrific defensive effort by Finnley Christine and the rest of the Lady Eagles, Varner was held to just one field goal and six total points, but Tyrone could not get things going offensively as it fell to Juniata, 44-36, in the District 6 Class AA quarterfinals at Huntingdon High School.

“Our defensive scheme worked well,” Tyrone coach Luke Rhoades said. “We did very well. We shut down Varner, but sometimes they caught us and we gave up weak side layups. You give that up when you take something away. I’m very proud of Finnley Christine, defensively she did a great job on her.”

Juniata jumped out to a quick 10-2 advantage, as forward Joelle Winey scored six of the ten from her low post position, while the Lady Eagles missed their first 13 attempts from the field.

“We couldn’t get into a rhythm offensively,” Rhoades said. “This was one very poorly officiated game. I don’t know how this crew got a playoff game. To be honest, there’s no way with a three versus a six seed that we should have had this crew.”

Rhoades was called for a technical foul just a minute into the second quarter, but his players responded with a 10-4 run to end the half.

Alexis Cannistraci scored Tyrone’s first basket of the quarter with 4:55 remaining, and Kasey Engle followed that with two 3-pointers to help bring it within a point at halftime, at 18-17.

“I told our girls I’m so proud of our effort,” Rhoades said. “The effort was outstanding. Even when shots weren’t falling, the effort was there. We took the ball to the basket, made shots and they called travels. I never saw a travel called on a spin move. It was very inconsistent officiating and, honestly, I think that was the difference in the game.”

Tyrone tied the game at 22-22 after Kasey Engle made a layup and a foul shot to complete a three-point play with 2:56 remaining in the third quarter.

Engle led Tyrone with 18 points, while Jordyn Swogger added seven and Alexis Cannistraci chipped in six.

After exchanging baskets, Juniata rattled off seven straight points to end the quarter, the last of which cam e after an offensive rebound and a layup by Alyssa Parson.

“Basketball is a game of momentum and runs,” Juniata coach Meghan Geedey said. “[Tyrone] made a run during the last end of the first half, but we withstood it, came out in third quarter and played well. They tied it, but never went ahead.”

Varner’s only field goal of the game was a 3-pointer that extended the Juniata lead to eight points, as it cruised to the district semifinals.

Tyrone loses seniors Jordyn Swogger, Emily Iuzzolino and Lucy Raftery, but will return a solid group of scorers.

“We lose three valuable seniors,” Rhoades said. “They meant a lot to our program. We’re going to miss them, but we got other girls that need to step up and get the job done.”

TYRONE (36): Swogger 2 2-4 7, Iuzzolino 1 0-2 2, Engle 5 5-5 18, Cannistraci 2 2-2 6, Raftery 0 0-0 0, Noll 0 1-2 1, Kemp 0 0-0 0, Christine 1 0-0 2. Totals 11 10-15 36.

JUNIATA (44): Varner 1 3-6 6, Burns 0 2-2 2, Zendt 5 1-2 11, Winey 6 1-2 13, Swartz 1 1-4 4, Parson 2 0-0 4, Duck 0 1-2 1, Pray 1 1-2 3. Totals 16 10-20 44.


Tyrone 7 10 7 12-36

Juniata 10 8 13 13-44

3-point goals: Tyrone 4 (Engle 3, Swogger); Juniata 2 (Swartz, Varner).

Team records: Tyrone (17-6); Juniata (20-2).