HUNTINGDON, Pa.- The Juniata men's basketball team put together a furious rally as they had cut the lead to single digits in the final minutes, but ultimately lost, 76-65, Monday evening to visiting Shenandoah in Memorial Gymnasium.
A chaotic opening few minutes saw neither team score as the teams struggled to find a rhythm offensively. Nicholas Albert (Herndon, Va. / Westfield High) kicked the ball out to Brandon Martinazzi (Cresson, Pa. / Bishop Carroll) on the right wing and he drilled a three to make it 3-0. Nathan Markey (York, Pa. / Central York) fired a pass inside to Jake Holsopple (Duncansville, Pa. / Hollidaysburg) who popped open under the hoop and laid it in to make it 5-0 four minutes into the game.
Shenandoah rattled off six points in a minute to take a 6-5 lead and the Juniata quickly called timeout.
A Nate DaCanal (Johnsonburg, Pa. / Elk County Catholic) three off a feed from Cameron Keck (Waynesboro, Pa. / Waynesboro) tied things at 8-8. Shenandoah continued to force turnovers and score in transition as they went up 16-8 before Keck found Holsopple for a lay in after an Albert offensive rebound in heavy traffic. The teams traded buckets, with Holsopple zinging a pass to Albert down low for another layup.
Down the stretch of the first half, the Hornets had built their lead to 11. Griffin LaCarte (Belle Vernon, Pa. / Belle Vernon) found Caidon Owen (Glenelg, Md. / Glenelg Country School) for another Eagle three to cut the lead to single digits. But Shenandoah scored inside as the Eagles went into the locker-room down 10, 29-19.
It was tough first half for the Eagles as they shot 28.6% and committed 15 turnovers.
The Hornets took control over the first 12 minutes of the second half as they built up a 24-point lead 57-33 following back to back threes.
Ethan Haupt (Duncansville, Pa. / Hollidaysburg) got fouled while making a midrange jumper, Martinazzi followed with an and one of his own as the Eagles started to climb back.
Buckets from Haupt, Martinazzi, Caiden and Holsopple helped the Eagles chip away at the deficit as the Eagles pulled within fourteen with a little under three minutes to go.
Caiden found Martinazzi for a layup and LaCarte dished it to Hall inside for another as Juniata pulled within 10 with two and half minutes remaining.
The Hornets split a pair of free throws, DaCanal split a pair of free throws but Hall skied above everyone, snagged the ball out the air and laid it back in to make it 66-58. The Hornets made four straight foul shots with Hall scoring on a short jumper as the Hornets led 71-60. Caiden scored along the baseline off a pass from Albert and the Hornets missed to foul shots with a minute and half to go. Keck pump faked to get the defender to fly by before getting a good look at a three to cut the lead to five, but it was a bit off. Shenandoah made enough foul shots to escape Huntingdon with a win.
The Hornets held a 21-8 edge in points off turnovers and a narrow 40-37 edge in rebounds.
Juniata will host Wilson in the Doc Greene Tournament, Friday at 7:00.