HUNTINGDON, Pa.- The Juniata men's basketball team went for 50 in the second half as they pulled away from Elizabethtown to win, 87-69, Wednesday evening at Memorial Gymnasium.
Cameron Keck (Waynesboro, Pa. / Waynesboro) laid the ball off to Marcus Hall (York, Pa. / Trinity) to get things going for Juniata early on. Paul Martello (York, Pa. / York Catholic) hit a cutting Brandon Martinazzi (Cresson, Pa. / Bishop Carroll,) along with another Hall layup, this one a runner that went in high off the glass, made it 6-4 JC a few minutes in. Nicholas Albert (Herndon, Va. / Westfield High) scored inside during an 8-2 burst by the Blue Jays that put the Blue and Gold behind, 12-8, in the first five minutes.
A few plays later down 13-8, Keck converted a jumper and on the next trip down the floor found Caidon Owen (Glenelg, Md. / Glenelg Country School) for a triple to tie things, but the Blue Jays clawed ahead again. Owen found John Kelly (Philadelphia, Pa. / Roman Catholic High School) in the post for a layup and Albert made a pair of free throws. On the ensuing defensive possession, Albert stole the ball one end and found Owen for a wide-open three from the top of the key to put the Eagles ahead, 20-18.
Elizabethtown responded again to pull ahead, 25-20 with six and half minutes to go in the half. Martinazzi swung the ball to Keck who hesitated for a moment before firing a three from several steps behind the three-point line to cut the deficit to two.
The teams traded buckets over the next several minutes with Kelly hurting the visitors down low. First Keck drove past his man from the left corner the left side, drawing Kelly's defender so he dropped it off to the freshman forward for an easy layup. Martinazzi dumped it inside to Kelly for another layup and Owen found him for one more to make it 29-27 JC with just under four minutes to go.
Down one, 30-29, Keck took a handoff from Hall, drove to the rim and tried a heavily contested layup that missed. However, he was first to the rebound and put it back in, all in one motion. After another Elizabethtown layup, Ethan Haupt (Duncansville, Pa. / Hollidaysburg) got his defender in the air with a pump fake at the top of the key, took a dribble forward and swished a jumper from the right elbow. Two Elizabethtown free throws put them ahead by one, 34-33 with two minutes in the half left on the clock. Layups from Hall and Martinazzi closed the scoring in the first half as the Eagles went into the locker room up 37-34.
The teams traded buckets in the first three minutes of the second half as the Blue Jays stayed close at 42-40. Two Martinazzi foul shots, a Hall layup off Keck pass and a Martinazzi three off a pass from Haupt pushed the Eagles up by nine in just a minute of game action. A Kelly layup off a Haupt bounce pass through several Blue Jay defenders made it 51-40.
Elizabethtown finally broke their cold spell with a layup, but the Eagles kept coming. Owen drilled a three from the left wing and Nate DaCanal (Johnsonburg, Pa. / Elk County Catholic) converted two free throws from the line to push the advantage to 15. A few possessions later, another Owen triple pushed the lead to 19 and Martinazzi made two foul shots as the Eagle lead went over 20.
Elizabethtown struck for five points to cut the deficit and Juniata called timeout with exactly 10 minutes to go in the game. Keck drilled a deep three to push the lead back to 18 and that essentially ended it as the Eagles cruised the rest of the way to get the win.
Juniata held a 40-28 advantage in the paint and a 41-17 edge in points off the bench.
The Eagles will face Susquehanna on Senior Day, Saturday at 4:00.