Juniata Valley’s girls fell behind 8-0 at the beginning of Saturday’s PIAA Class A first-round game with Aquinas Academy at Deer Lakes High School and never completely recovered. The Crusaders fought off a comeback by the Hornets and gradually built their way to a 59-45 victory.
The Hornets finished their season with a 16-9 record. Aquinas Academy, the District Seven runner-up, improved to 17-9 for the year and will move into the second round against District Five champion Berlin Brothersvalley (21-5) Wednesday at Norwin High School in North Huntingdon.
“We got behind early, then settled in,” said Hornet coach Clayton DeForrest. “We carried that into the beginning of the second quarter. Aquinas made a run to end the second quarter give them a six-point lead at halftime.”
Violet Johnson and Emily Fisher each scored six points in the first quarter to lead the Crusaders. For the Hornets, Makenna Hartman scored seven – 4x4 from the foul line – to help bring the Hornets back. Aquinas led just 14-12 at the buzzer.
Johnson added six more points in the second period, while Makayla Moskel and Maddie Hopsicker each hit a three-point shot for the Hornets. Aquinas outscored Valley 14-10 in the3 quarter and led 28-22 at halftime.
“We got into four trouble and that hurt us in the first half,” DeForrest pointed out. “Johnson was more aggressive than we saw in video.”
The pace slowed a bit in the third quarter. Fisher led the Crusaders with four points, while Anna Taylor hit a trey to pace the Hornets. Aquinas outscored the Hornets 10-8 in the period and 38-30 heading into the final eight minutes.
Taylor hit two more three-point shots in the fourth quarter to lead the Hornets to 15 points, but Fisher scored 11 and Johnson eight for Aquinas to close out the victory.
“We did a pretty good job of containing Fisher through the first three quarters,” said DeForrest. “She moved around a lot and she was able to get to the basket in the fourth.”
Fisher scored 22 and Johnson 20 to lead all scorers in the game. The Crusaders hit 22 of 52 shots (42 percent). They won the boards by a 31-24 margin, led by Tess Duer with nine. Aquinas turned the ball over 16 times.
For the Hornets, Hartman finished with a team-high 10 points. Taylor added nine and Hopsicker seven. Mackenzie Coffman pulled down nine rebounds. The Hornets were hindered by 24 turnovers.
“We didn’t finish the way we wanted, but I’m so proud of this team, especially the seniors,” DeForrest concluded. “I’ve coached them since they were in fifth grade and they helped me fall in love with coaching. They should be proud of themselves and keep their heads high.”
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