Ms. Reds do just enough to leave Valley girls feeling blue
PUNXSUTAWNEY — Juniata Valley’s postseason run reached an end in a 50-46 loss to West Middlesex in a PIAA Class 2A second-round girls’ basketball playoff game on Tuesday night at Chuck Daly Memorial Gymnasium.
The Lady Hornets, who started two sophomores — Emma Musser and Olivia Smith — and freshman Avery Taylor, finished the season 22-4.
“We keep producing the kids and you hope you go as far as you can every single year,” Lady Hornets coach Rachelle Hopsicker said. “And I think our expectations far surpassed what anybody thought we’d do anyway. I’m proud of the girls. They worked hard, they put the time in. They did everything we asked them to.”
The Ms. Reds will play Kane in a third-round game Friday at a site and time to be determined.
“That was a great team that Rachelle has,” West Middlesex coach Mike Williams said. “We knew that going in that it was going to be a war. The unfortunate thing is that could be the game that decides who gets to Hershey.
“It’s a shame somebody has to lose that game because those are two really good teams.”
Juniata Valley led by as many as five points in the first half, which ended with the Lady Hornets in front, 22-20. A 7-0 rally put West Middlesex in the lead for the duration of the night.
“Obviously, their third-quarter (rally) put them ahead and we couldn’t get over that jump,” Hopsicker said.
The Ms. Reds led by as many as eight on two occasions in the fourth quarter. A 3-pointer by Hayden Taylor pulled Juniata Valley within three, 46-43, with 2:04 left. They cut the difference to two on a couple more occasions.
“They played well,” Hopsicker said. “They played good defense.”
Hayden Taylor, one of two junior starters, led the Lady Hornets with 15 points.
“(She’s) a phenomenal shooter,” Williams said. “About as good as anyone we’ve seen.”
Classmate Halee Smith added 10 points. The Lady Hornets made seven 3-point field goals to West Middlesex’s one.
“We shoot well. We do inside and outside and, hopefully, we hit some of them,” Hopsicker said. “We took what we had an opportunity to take.”
Makennah White, a 6-0 junior, led West Middlesex with a game-high 19 points and nine rebounds.
“We did everything we could,” Hopsicker said. “We got called for the fouls every time we tried to compete with her. We kept mixing people up on her.”
“I thought they did a nice job on Makennah. I thought they did a nice job defending her,” Williams said. “We had some of our secondary really kids step up and make some nice plays for us.”
Freshman Emily Anthony and senior Karsyn Rupert added 10 points apiece for the Ms. Reds.
“I’m tickled. That’s a great win for us against an outstanding program,” Williams said.
WEST MIDDLESEX (50): Tomko 2 1-2 6, White 8 3-6 19, Anthony 3 4-7 10, Rupert 5 0-0 10, Beatty 1 0-0 2, Mild 1 1-2 3. Totals — 20 9-18 50.
JUNIATA VALLEY (46): O.Smith 1 0-0 2, A.Taylor 3 0-2 8, H.Taylor 6 1-2 15, Musser 3 2-2 8, Reed 1 0-0 3, H.Smith 4 0-1 10. Totals — 18 3-6 47.
SCORE BY QUARTERS:
West Middlesex 8 12 18 12 — 50
JuniataValley 11 11 12 12 — 46
3-point field goals: West Middlesex 1 (Tomko), Juniata Valley 7 (H.Smith 2, A.Taylor 2, H.Taylor 2, Reed).
Officials: Kris Stiglite, Chip Mason, Greg Garzel.
Team records: West Middlesex (23-3), Juniata Valley (22-4).