MIDDLEBURG - Midd-West girls basketball coach Dave Fadale sported a very boyish smile Monday night after his team edged East Juniata 31-28 in a non-conference meeting of former Tri-Valley League rivals.
And why shouldn't he? It had been a long time since Fadale had enjoyed walking off the court a winner.
The former Middleburg boys and Selinsgrove girls coach spend much of the past two decades officiating games instead of coaching them. Last year he stepped back onto the bench, but was unable to get that first win for the Mustangs as his squad finished without a win at 0-22 - combined with six losses to end the 2010-11 campaign and one sustained to start this season, that's 29 times Midd-West has played a girls basketball game without scoring more points than the opponent.
Sentinel photo by JOHN THOMAS
Midd-West’s Allie Camp goes to the basket in front of East Juniata’s Lauren Maguire Monday in Middleburg. Midd-West won the game 31-28.
"It is definitely a good feeling," he said. "I'm glad to get this win, but I'm more excited for the players. Their hard work is starting to pay off."
East Juniata (2-1) struggled finding its offense in Middleburg. The Tigers only had three players score in the contest and combined to make only six shots. The Tigers were a dismal 6-of-40 from the floor, hitting only two in the first half in 18 tries.
The only thing that kept them in the game was a solid 16-22 performance from the foul line.
IF YOU GO
East?Juniata hosts Millersburg today.
Midd-West travels to Jersey Shore Wednesday.
Midd-West (1-1) also had a tough time putting points on the board, but made some big baskets down the stretch in pressure situations.
"Having a team that doesn't have a lot of experiences in these types of games, I was curious to see who would step up," Fadale said.
Senior Allie Camp and freshman Makenzie Kauffman played the part as heroes as they took control of the game late and sealed the win in front of an enthusiastic home crowd.
Camp finished with a game-high 14 points, including some momentum-swinging baskets.
Trailing 12-10 with just two ticks left on the clock before halftime, Fadale called timeout and set up a play for Camp on an out-of-bounds play under the basket. After working herself free from a defender with a screen, the guard sank a three from the corner to give her team the lead going into intermission.
The Mustangs also had a one-point lead after three quarters as neither team was able to gets its offense going. Midd-West never trailed again, but was unable to pull away as the game stayed within a basket until there was just 1:37 left, when Kauffman netted four of her six points on back-to-back trips.
After working the ball around the top of the key and waiting for a hole in the East Juniata zone, the Mustangs found Kauffman, who converted a pair of consecutive short jumpers in the post to extend the lead to 26-21.
After a Brianna Beiler went 1-for-2 from the line, Camp scored the final three points on a coast-to-coast lay-in after a steal and a foul shot as the crowd erupted.
"I thought Allie played a great game for us," Fadale said. "She took charge down the stretch both by breaking their press with her dribble and with her scoring."
While he expected a senior to be a leader, he was pleasantly surprised with Kauffman's play in crunch time in only her second high school game.
"She's only a freshman," he chuckled. "She gave us some big baskets when we needed them."
Lauren Maguire's half-court buzzer-beater brought the Tigers within a basket on the final score. Maguire led the East Juniata offense with 11 points, but shot only 2-for-14 from the field. Maddie Trego and Kasi Horning were the only other Tigers to score with 10 and 7 respectively.
East Juniata was the winner of the JV contest, 36-17.
The Tigers are back in action tonight, hosting Millersburg. Midd-West travels to Jersey Shore Wednesday. Both teams will be on the same court again after the holiday when Midd-West travels to East Juniata to take part in the Juniata County Christmas Tournament.