ALTOONA, Pa.- The Juniata men's basketball team defeated LaGrange, 76-65, in the Championship Game of the PSU-Altoona Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament Saturday afternoon.
Tournament MVP Marcus Lee (Carrolltown, Pa./Bishop Carroll) had 19 points and 12 rebounds, All-Tournament Team nominee Seth Brewer (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) had 14 points, five assists and three steals while Damon Rickens (Altoona, Pa./Bishop Guilfoyle) had nine points and eight rebounds. Brandon Martinazzi (Cresson, Pa./Bishop Carroll) had six points, six assists and three rebounds. Wil Peralta (Hagerstown, Md./North Hagerstown) had six points, three rebounds and two assists while Paul Martello (York, Pa./York Catholic) chipped in seven points off the bench.
The Panthers jumped out to an early 7-2 lead, but two layups from Lee, one off a feed from Martinazzi, and two Brewer foul shots pulled JC back within one at 9-8. Neither team could create any separation as the lead went back and forth. With 10:17 left in the half, Martinazzi drove inside and scored to make it 17-17. The lead went back and forth five times over the next several minutes. With a little over a minute left, Martinazzi scored inside and then Brewer scored on a layup of his own as Juniata took at 35-31 lead into the break.
LaGrange scored the first four points of the second half in the paint to tie the score at 35-35 with 17:32 in the game. The Eagles managed to take a narrow 42-39 lead in following few minutes. Nathan Markey (York, Pa./Central York) found Noah Neville (Westminster, Md./North Carroll) for three, the Panthers scored on a dunk, and Brewer found Jake Holsopple (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Hollidaysburg) for a layup. The Panthers swished a three in transition to narrow the gap before Markey responded with a three of his own.
Later, Markey drilled another three to make it 65-53 with 6:15 to go as the Eagles tried to pull away late. The Panthers had other ideas, and over the next three minutes pulled within four at 65-61. Brewer converted an and-one and Rickens nailed a jumper to push the lead back to seven at 70-63. The Eagle defense forced misses on the next two Panther trips down the floor and so with under a minute remaining Bridgewater began to foul. Rickens, Martello and Brewer all made their free throws as Juniata iced the game.
The Eagles held a 36-26 edge in points in the paint and a 39-24 edge on the glass.
Juniata will face Washington and Jefferson, Tuesday at 7:00.