BELLEVILLE - Going into the season, the Juniata Mennonite girls were coming full force with speed and an opportunistic defense.
Thursday night was no exception as the Lions brought a tough full-court press along with skilled guard play, topping Belleville Mennonite 40-30 in a non-league contest for Juniata Mennonite.
Leading the way offensively for the Lions was Valarie Meiser, who posted a career-high 18 points, the second time in as many games that she has broken her previous mark. Teammate Lauren Breon muscled her way to a 10-point effort.
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE?BOYER
Belleville Mennonite’s Grace Peachey, left, looks to the basket as Juniata Mennonite’s Valarie Meiser blocks Thursday at Belleville Mennonite.
Belleville Mennonite's Rachel Anders led the Trojans in the losing effort by collecting a double-double, sporting a strong 19-point and 10-rebound night. Teammate Grace Peachey brought down 11 rebounds while finishing with six points.
"I thought the intensity was there on the girls' end. I thought our inexperience was really hurting us but the girls got in there," Belleville Mennonite coach Ally Zook said. " Turnovers were definitely hurting us but we're getting there."
Early on, the defense took center stage as the Lions outshot the Trojans by a 7-4 margin.
IF YOU GO
Belleville Mennonite hosts Harrisburg Academy today at 6:00 p.m.
Juniata Mennonite travels to Mansfield New Covenant today at 5p.m.
Neither offense fared much better in the second quarter. Juniata Mennonite outscored Belleville Mennonite by a single point, 9-8, leading the visitors to a 16-12 advantage going into the locker room.
At halftime, Juniata Mennonite made the adjustments it needed on offense, mostly giving the ball to Meiser. Meiser did not disappoint, breaking out a 10-point third-quarter effort.
"We haven't actually run that press much. At times it looked good the others it didn't," Juniata Mennonite coach Andy Meiser said. "In the first half, I think we rushed our shots, I told the girls we wanted good quick shots not just quick shots. We got Valarie going in the second half, scoring 14."
Going stride for stride in the third period was Anders, who put in an 8-point quarter, keeping the game close at 29-22 going into the final stanza.
Juniata Mennonite's defense held strong, allowing only eight points while it's offense outscored the Trojans 11-8 en route to the victory.
The Lions came into the game sporting a hot hand jumping out to a 7-2 lead. Belleville Mennonite rallied back as it went on an 8-0 run, taking the lead at 10-7 with 5:41 left in the opening period. The Trojans got four from Anders and four from Peachey in the scoring run.
From there, Juniata Mennonite battled back to score nine of the final 11 points, taking a 16- 12 lead as the first half buzzer sounded.