By JEFFREY L. NORRIS
Juniata Valley showed signs of distraction during the first half of Monday’s game with visiting Claysburg. The Hornets got their game together in the second half and rolled to a 71-47 victory over the Bulldogs.
It was the regular season finale for the Hornets. They are 18-3 for the season and finished 13-1 in the ICC North. Claysburg falls to 13-8 overall and 9-4 in the league.
“We just didn’t click in the first half,” said Hornet coach Rachelle Hopsicker. “It has been a rough couple weeks and tonight was Senior Night. We started very slowly, but got our game together in the second half.”
A three-pointer by Kat Hopsicker gave Valley an early 5-2 lead, but the Bulldogs got baskets from Bailey Garver and Megan Hartman to take a 6-5 lead. The Hornet outscored Claysburg 9-3 over the final three minutes of the quarter to build a 14-9 advantage.
Olivia Smith scored eight points in the first four minutes of the second quarter to push Valley to a 22-13 lead, but Claysburg answered with a 8-0 run to close within a point. Three-point shots by Hayden and Avery Taylor opened the gap to 28-21, but a three by Claysburg’s Kassidi Rininger and two free throws made it 28-26 at the break.
Hayden Taylor scored nine points in the third period and H. Taylor added eight as the Hornets gradually pulled away to led 50-41 at the end of the quarter. Hartman scored nine to keep the Bulldogs in range.
H. Taylor added seven more points in the fourth quarter, while sister Avery picked up nine and Valley outscored Claysburg 21-6 to seal the deal. Hartman scored all six of the Bulldogs’ points.
“We played well in the second half and I’m very proud of the players,” Hopsicker concluded. “We focused on defense and everybody did a good job.”
H. Taylor lead the Hornet offense with 24 points. A. Taylor added 18 and Musser finished with 11. Valley hit 26 of 51 shots (51 percent) and controlled the boards 29-23. They were guilty of 15 turnovers, 11 in the first half.
For Claysburg, Hartman was the only player in double figures, scoring a game-high 31 points. Sarah Helsel finished with nine. The Bulldogs nailed 17 of 44 from the field (39 percent) and was guilty of 22 turnovers.
The Hornets celebrated the final home game for four seniors – Halee Smith, Hayden Taylor, Lexie Reed and Kathryn Hopsicker.
In the junior varsity game, Maelyn Payne scored 11 points and the Hornets won their season finale with a 42-21 victory. They finished the year with an 8-5 record.