By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
MONTOURSVILLE -- David Brantley got the ball around half court as the Towanda defense started to pressure him. He dribbled for a few steps before he saw Bailey Coder wide open underneath the basket for an easy bucket.
The play got the entire East Juniata crowd inside of Montoursville High School on their feet cheering, including head coach Brock Anders, who was jumping up and down and screaming. It gave the Tigers took a 10-point lead en route to a 57-46 win in the District 4 Class AA playoffs against Towanda.
Coder (19 points, 14 rebounds) and Nick Lorenz (25 points, nine rebounds) were instrumental in East Juniata advancing for the first time in school history in the District 4 postseason. The win also gave the Tigers at 19-4, a school record for wins.
Towanda (17-6) had a solid fourth quarter and battled back from a 15-point deficit to make it a seven-point game with less than 2 minutes to play.
The Black Knights opened the fourth with four straight 3-pointers to cut it inside of a 10-point deficit since early in the first quarter.
"I thought we battled early and kept them off of (the 3-point line). They, fortunately, didn't make a lot in the beginning and it's a tribute to some of their guys. They can shoot from the perimeter, particularly (Noah) Huff," Anders said. "We had troubles with him all night long. … We knew defensively we were going to have to buckle down and make big time plays all night long and I thought our guys did some good things."
Huff led Towanda with 17 points. Towanda shot 34 3-pointers in the loss, as Huff and Dave Rodenhizer (13 points) each sank three apiece.
The Tigers used a 35-19 rebound advantage to their benefit, including grabbing 30 defensive boards to keep Towanda from getting second-chance opportunities.
East Juniata came out on all cylinders in the first half, going on an 11-0 run between the first two quarters -- part of an overall 19-2 run -- to put Towanda into a 19-point hole, 26-7.
n Benton 47, East Juniata 17
The Tigers went up against a tough Benton team led by senior Justine Seely, who single-handedly outscored East Juniata. Seely scored 25 points while nearly recording a triple-double (15 rebounds, 7 steals).
East Juniata went on a 6-0 run late in the first half to make it a 12-9 game before Benton countered with an 11-0 run of its own. That Benton run came without Seely on the court.
Casey Gavin sank three straight NBA-range 3-pointers for Benton to make it a 14-point game.
From there, East Juniata never brought the game closer as Benton kept a double-digit lead.
The Tigers were led by Cassidy Dillman's six points (all of which came in the first half) while Katrina Geinett scored five. Kasi Horning grabbed seven rebounds for East Juniata.
Benton recorded 15 steals in the win and forced 22 East Juniata turnovers.