By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
COCOLAMUS -- Brock Anders knew East Juniata's game against Upper Dauphin would be anything but easy. The last two years when the Tri-Valley League rivals played it typically resulted in a close game.
Thursday night at East Juniata High School was no different.
With the Tigers up one inside the final minute, the EJ coach told his team it had to go out and make a stop, which is precisely what it did. With just a few ticks remaining, Upper Dauphin's Mackenzie Ney tried a turnaround jumper over 6-foot-6 junior Bailey Coder, but the shot hit off the far side of the rim and the Tigers survived for a 41-40 TVL victory.
The win gave East Juniata (3-1, 1-0 TVL) its first league win of the year while the Trojans dropped to 1-3 overall, 0-2 in the league.
"One of the things I told them (was) that we worked for these points in the game (and) in the practices," Anders said. "You have to go out and make a stop to get out (with a win). I think some of our leaders stepped up and made some plays."
East Juniata routinely made plays to retake the lead after Upper Dauphin would tie the game. There were 10 different lead changes in the game -- five in each half -- and neither team led by more than four points at any point.
"That's the way it was, back and forth all night. I thought it could come down to who had the ball last. We had our chances and we just couldn't get the last one to fall," Upper Dauphin coach Anthony Weaver said. "Just the little things throughout the game ... They add up in a one-point game, those little things. They can make a difference in a game like this."
Those little things include key free throws.
Late in the third quarter, Upper Dauphin's Austin M. Weaver and Austin A. Weaver were sent to the line to shoot two free throws each.
Both times, the first shot missed and second went in, tying the game.
Had both gone in, Upper Dauphin takes a one-point lead each time, and perhaps gain some momentum. Instead, East Juniata responded both times with a basket by the towering Coder, who recorded a double-double with 16 points and 15 boards while also adding two blocks.
Eight of Coder's rebounds were defensive.
"With his size, obviously that creates mismatches for a lot of teams in the interior and he takes up a lot of space and he rebounds well," Anders said. "But I think that the aggressiveness of Nick Lorenz set up a lot of what we were able to do and again, it's a struggle (against the Trojans). We know that every time we play these guys."
Lorenz added 15 points. Dillon Leonard (8 points) and Cole Snyder (2) also scored for East Juniata.
Upper Dauphin held a four-point lead in the first quarter and ended the first with a shot by Ney to tie it up at 10. Coder and Lorenz each scored in the first two minutes of the second to give the Tigers a four-point lead before the Trojans proceeded to go on a 7-2 run to retake the lead, 17-16, and then again, 19-18.
Snyder then shot a one-and-one for the Tigers with 1:31 to play and Upper Dauphin could only tie it the rest of the night.
"We were right there, we just couldn't get over the hump," Weaver said. "We just need to get that mentality that you've got to finish. You've got to finish the game; you've got to finish when you get to the line (and) you've got to finish when you get to the basket.
"We didn't do that and that's probably the difference in the game."