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Boys: Playing team ball, good things come Trojans' way

Twin Titles in theTVAA
By Mike Hutchins, CONTRIBUTING WRITER


Upper Dauphin Area's Travis Deitrich pulls up for a shot against Juniata defenders.(Sentinel photo by Lon Zeiders)

COVE • It takes a team to win a championship.

It took the entire Upper Dauphin Area boys’ basketball team to earn a 60-51 victory over Juniata Feb. 12 to grab the Tri-Valley Athletic Association’s championship for the 2014-2015 season.

“This is fun,” Upper Dauphin Head Coach Anthony Weaver said. “When you play as a team, it’s fun. Because when you play as a team, good things happen … like this.”

Matthew “Mookie” Miller had a smooth 22 points to lead the Trojan offense, Jordan Gessner notched 15 and Alex Uhler chipped in 11 to help pace the offense.

The defense came up big after the first quarter, getting a spark from some non-starters such as Drake Lenker and Andrew Norris.

For the first 5 ½ minutes of the game, it did not appear as though the championship trophy would be staying on this side of the river.

Juniata was the team playing together, hitting the Trojans hard defensively and converting turnovers into easy baskets.

Josh Parson, one of the Indians’ tough inside forces, scored 10 points in an opening salvo that saw the West Division champions build a 14-4 lead.

“We’ve been down before in games. At the start, we were settling on shooting from the perimeter. Once we started going to the basket, they knew they could get the win,” Weaver said.

A couple things happened toward the end of the first quarter that, in hindsight, signaled the start of something good for the Trojans.

Firstly, Gessner was able to penetrate the Juniata matchup zone for a basket, and a couple substitutions – Norris and Lenker – helped spark a defensive resurgence.

Gessner’s drive seemed to open things up on the perimeter.

“We started slow. We were just kind of standing around,” Gessner said. “I drove once to the basket and scored, and from that point, I felt they couldn’t stop us. Really, the game turned at the end of the first quarter when Drake came in and picked up the defense and gave us a huge spark.”

Weaver said Gessner’s offensive ability has yet to be fully tapped.

“Jordan has the skill set to score a lot more points than he does. He showed some of that ability tonight,” Weaver said.

Lenker aggressively stole the ball from Juniata’s big man Logan Knepp, and in the process forced Knepp into his second foul, earning him a seat on the Juniata bench for much of the remainder of the first half.

A few minutes later, Lenker forced another turnover that led to an Uhler bucket that gave the Trojans their first lead of the game.

“We all have our role,” Lenker said. “When I went in, I knew I needed to try and give the team a spark. We know our offense feeds off our defense, so I tried to make some plays. When we work together like that things really click and it showed tonight.”

UDA held Juniata without a point from the 2:33 mark of the first quarter until 3:55 remained before halftime, nearly seven minutes of game time.

In that stretch, Gessner had seven points, and Uhler four of an 11-0 Trojan run that propelled them to a 15-14 lead.

That Juniata hoop at the 3:55 mark put the Trojans in front for the last time in the game, 16-15.

Miller started to get the offense going with six points in the final stretch of the second quarter when the Trojans outscored the Indians 10-1, completing a 19-3 second quarter that put UDA on top 25-17 at half time.

The Indians were clinging to hope midway through the third quarter, trailing 32-25 with 5:08 to play in the frame, but a 12-0 UDA run ended that threat.

Travis Deitrich had six points in the game, but they came in that run on back-to-back three-point buckets. Juniata was concentrating heavily on Miller, Uhler and Gessner. The Trojans were able to get the ball at the foul line to Calen Reigner, who then made some nice passes to Deitrich, who nailed the treys.

“Calen played great. He is physical inside and he is hard to score on. He’s a good passer, knows how to find the open guys when he gets the ball in (the lane),” Gessner said.

Miller hit a pair of baskets at the outset of the fourth quarter as UDA took an 18-point, 48-30 lead. Juniata gave it one last run, cutting the lead to 48-38 by scoring eight unanswered points in just over a minute.

Reigner worked inside after that for a bucket and earned two free throws, which he made, to stem that Indian rally and pretty much ice the win.

TVAA SEMIFINALS

Juniata 48, Halifax 44, Feb. 10. Halifax played hard all night, according to Head Coach Dan Bowman.

“I thought we had a shot at the title game; we just came up short,” he said. “But I feel fortunate to have a 15-win season.”

The Wildcats struggled a bit down the regular-season stretch, finding wins hard against some tough teams.

“Yeah, we played some good teams down the stretch and right now we are searching for some team chemistry,” Bowman said. “I hope this motivates the kids to work harder.”

The Indians used a 20-10 second quarter to open a 25-16 halftime lead.

Koby Bowman led Halifax with 15 points and Dan Osenbach added 11 points.

The Wildcats now have a week to prepare for a home District 3-A playoff game Friday, Feb. 20.

“It is exciting to have a home playoff game. If we can get a win, it would be a huge accomplishment,” Bowman said.

UDA 53, Greenwood 47, Feb. 10. The Trojans took a 10-0 lead just 2:19 into the game, and still held a 9-point lead, 15-6, after the first quarter.

Behind Miller’s three-early three-point buckets, it looked like the Trojans would run away with the game in taking a 20-6 lead.

Greenwood started to come back, however, and cut the lead to just two points, 21-19, by halftime. The Cats held UDA to just one point in the final 5:33 of the first half.

To enhance the Trojans’ woes early in the third quarter, Miller found himself in foul trouble, picking up his fourth foul with six minutes remaining in the third period.

Like a good team, though, others stepped up to the task. Uhler had a good third quarter, scoring 10 of the Trojans’ 16 points in the stanza to raise the Trojan lead to 37-26.

The Trojans were forced to the foul line in the fourth quarter, where five different players combined to knock down 12 free throws to seal the win.

ADDITIONAL GAMES

Lourdes 57, Line Mountain 50, Feb. 13. Freshman C.J. Reichard led the Eagles with 19 points, and Kellan Masser, in his last game as an Eagle, added 14 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. Brady Michael had five steals.

Penns Valley 54, Line Mountain 34, Feb. 12. In his final game as an Eagle, Brady Michael scored 10 points to lead the team in scoring.

It was a close game after the first quarter, with Penns Valley holding a 14-11 lead. Penns Valley started pulling away with a 14-6 second quarter.




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