COCOLAMUS - Juniata and Belleville Mennonite were neck and neck in the boys consolation round of the Juniata County Christmas Tournament Friday, with the score at 34-31 in the Trojans' favor at the end of the third.
But what Belleville Mennonite never saw coming was a one-point fourth, in which Juniata took the lead and the eventual 40-35 win.
It really was a game of two polar opposites, with Belleville Mennonite hot in the first half and cold in the second. Juniata, as it turned out, had the goods when it counted most.
In the first half, Belleville Mennonite's aggression on defense made if difficult for the Indians to get open for good shots, and it resulted in a Trojan lead of 25-16.
But, after coming out of the locker room, it was the Indians who were ready to score, and they did so by a margin of 15-9 in the third quarter.
"The turnovers killed us. The second half really hurt us a lot," Belleville Mennonite coach Doug Snook said.
And where Belleville Mennonite was making turnovers in the third quarter, Juniata was making shots.
For the first few minutes of the third, Juniata kept chipping away at the Trojans' lead, but it wasn't until a 2-pointer from Logan Aurand, followed by a three from Zack Graybill that the the Indians knotted it up at 29 all.
Belleville Mennonite responded with five points from Noah Anders, and while Juniata all-tournament selection Scott Sneath added two more to the Indians' effort, the third quarter ended with a 34-31 Trojan lead. But, the Indians' 15-point quarter had brought the game too close, and it would be more than Belleville Mennonite could handle in the fourth.
"We saw in the first half that Scott (Sneath) was really able to frustrate whoever he was on, so we wanted him on the ball handler the whole time," Juniata coach Nate Geibel said. "He ended up with about six steals, and that led to a lot of our easy buckets at the end of the game, and eventually led to us getting a win."
Juniata (1-6) hosts Halifax on Thursday. Belleville Mennonite (2-5), whose all-tournament selection was Austin Byler, hosts Blair County Christian on Thursday.