BEAVER SPRINGS - There were a number of reasons for Juniata Mennonite to feel good Tuesday night, not the least of which was a 39-24 win over Belleville Mennonite in their non-league girls basketball game at West Snyder Elementary.
The Lions, coming off an Allegheny Christian Athletic Conference season that ended with a play-in game loss to Northumberland Christian, were able to go out on a positive note with the makeup against the Mifflin County school.
"The positive tonight was while we were not playing very well offensively our defense was good and we weren't turning the ball over," Juniata Mennonite coach Andy Meiser said of the game itself. But in the larger context, he said, there was so much more to be happy about.
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY KREITZER
Juniata Mennonite’s Valerie Meiser, right, passes the ball as Belleville Mennonite’s Becky Kauffman defends Tuesday in Beaver Springs.
In the finale, the Lions were led by Lauren Breon with 12 points, while Valarie Meiser scored 11, including a trio of treys. The team's balanced scoring is one thing that offers a bright future for the squad, which returns intact next season.
"We had some gut-crunching losses throughout the season but the girls really bought into the bigger than basketball thing," Andy Meiser said. "There are basketball microskills that are emerging that will serve us well."
The Lions finished with a 9-9 record, improving from 7-13 a year ago, and that includes a pair of one-point losses, one in double overtime. Meiser said he told his girls before the play-in, "Whether we win or lose at the end of the game we'll still have us," and a season to remember.
Belleville Mennonite 53, Juniata Mennonite 42
BEAVER SPRINGS - Controlling the glass, out rebounding the opponent and limiting second-chance opportunities are generally a healthy recipe for winning basketball games. Belleville Mennonite snagged 41 boards in Tuesday's game at Juniata Mennonite on its way to an 11-point victory in the season finale for both boys basketball teams.
A fast start propelled the Trojans to an eight-point lead that would not be relinquished.
"Our guys played really aggressive," Belleville coach Doug Snook said. "I really stressed getting to the free-throw line and rebounding."
The Trojans heeded Snook's advice, shooting 67 percent from the charity stripe while collecting more than 40 rebounds.
Snook and the Trojans have scrapped to a 5-15 finish, managing the absence of key players to injury and illness throughout the season.
"Our guys had fun and they work hard no matter what," Snook said. "From beginning to end they play hard and everyone contributed here toward the end of the season."