By Todd Hummel
The Daily Item
— COCOLAMUS -- It wasn't an unfamiliar position for Line Mountain. In its third contest this season with East Juniata, the Eagles fell behind early to the Tigers.
Line Mountain missed its first nine shots and forced coach Craig Reichard to take two timeouts on offense in the first quarter.
"They needed to settle down and make a shot," Reichard said. "We played here in their tip-off tournament and fell behind 11-0."
However, this time Line Mountain survived the early onslaught and unleashed one of its own in the middle two quarters, rolling to a 54-38 victory over East Juniata on Tuesday night.
"(The kids) know what's on the line. We needed a win to get into the district playoffs," Reichard said. "I'm surprised it happened, tonight. We did what we had to, when we had to do it."
It was a huge win for the Eagles (11-7 overall, 9-3 TVL) on the road against a Tigers' team that just snapped Greenwood's long winning streak this past Friday night.
"Obviously with teenage boys, you don't know how they were going to respond coming off such an emotional win on Friday night," East Juniata coach Brock Anders said. "Line Mountain came out with more energy, enthusiasm and execution. They outplayed us in all phases."
Line Mountain earned its victory on the defensive end. East Juniata hit four 3-ponters in the first quarter against the Eagles' 2-3 zone, but the Tigers remained content to jack it from the outside. The Tigers hit 10 3-pointers in the game, but only made three 2-point shots in the entire game.
"We wanted to pack it in against (Bailey) Coder because we don't have anybody that can check a 6-6 kid man-to-man all game," Line Mountain's Cole Rickert said. "We also wanted to keep somebody shaded towards (Nick) Lorenz at all times. We were content to let the other three guys on the floor try to beat us."
It didn't start great for the Eagles as East Juniata (15-4, 10-3) opened up leads of 10-2 and 13-4 late in the opening quarter. Line Mountain didn't make its first basket until there was 2:34 left in the first quarter.
Trailing 13-4 late in the first, Codi Morris banked in a 3-pointer to cut the East Juniata lead to seven at the end of the first quarter and that turned out to be just what the Eagles needed.
"We knew we had to get out to a good start, but I didn't start well, a lot of us didn't start well," Rickert said. "It was actually that bank shot that nobody expected at the end of the first quarter, it got it back to six at the end of the quarter and we knew the game hadn't gotten away from us."
That started Line Mountain on an 18-3 run as Rickert had nine points in the run, while Morris had eight. By the time the Eagles were done they led 24-16 with two minutes left in the first half.
Morris also had a huge role, trying to keep Coder, the Tigers' 6-6 center, off the glass. Morris did a great job, grabbing 10 boards, while holding Coder to just two field goals and seven rebounds.
"Morris did a great job on Coder. He had a purpose tonight," Reichard said. "Every time the ball went up, Morris' job was to make sure Coder was on his back. He did a great job."
Line Mountain would build a 16-point lead midway through the third quarter. The Tigers did make one run at the Eagles, cutting the lead to nine with 6:01 left in the game, but that would be as close as East Juniata would get.
Rickert had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Eagles. Morris finished with 10 and 10, while Bill Breinich finished with 12 points and nine boards.
Lorenz scored 20 points on six 3's, the only East Juniata player in double figures.