MILLERSTOWN — You wouldn't think there'd be much for Kenedy Stroup to glean from a game in which she shot 1-for-18.
Greenwood's all-state senior guard, though, pored over that horror movie, er, game film from three weeks ago against East Juniata. She learned a key to solving the Tigers' active zone defense was to use her reputation as the Valley's scoring leader against them.
"We noticed that when EJ played defense they like to send three girls back, and in order for me to score I like to get up the court in front of everyone," said Stroup. "They make that really hard for me, so I evaluated and realized I have to look for other people. If I push it up, two people can leak out and we can get a better shot passing it out."
Tuesday, when the teams met in a Tri-Valley League semifinal, Stroup created more points than she scored, totaling seven assists. Alli Walton and Alli Crockett scored 17 and 14 points, respectively, and the Wildcats' defense was exceptional throughout a 49-22 win over East Juniata.
"A great five-on-five effort," said Greenwood coach Jeff Deitz. "The defense was out of this world, and the preparation on offense — we're always concerned about (East Juniata's) zone — they did a great job. And not just the girls on the floor, because we had a whole team at practice that had to simulate this. So when we say 'team win,' we mean team win.
"A-plus effort for all 12 of these girls. I'm extremely proud of them."
The Wildcats (18-5) earned a berth in Thursday's TVL championship game opposite West Division rival Susquenita (18-5), a 54-49 winner over Upper Dauphin.
East Juniata (15-8), which won six of eight following the Jan. 20 loss at Greenwood, is in line for the No. 6 seed in District 4 Class 3A.
"We have to prepare and be a better team than what we were (Tuesday)," said Tigers coach Travis Quici. "(The Wildcats) exploited our zone big-time. Jeff does a fantastic job with them. They found some spots in it, and we didn't cover up what we needed to cover up. There were three, four or five assignments early on in the first quarter that they capitalized on."
Stroup, who entered the game netting 19.6 points per game, had two assists before she attempted her first shot. That was a stark contrast to the teams' previous meeting when she was 0-for-10 with no assists in the first half — overshadowed by the 6-foot-1 Walton cleaning up the mess with 17 points and 12 boards in the half.
"I can guarantee that (game) was in the back of her mind," said Deitz.
While she was far from a decoy, Stroup played a key role in Greenwood's ball movement against East Juniata's defense. The Tigers had to be wary of the 5-foot-11 point guard driving past them to the basket, so they were sometimes caught hedging as the ball swung around the key to an open shooter.
"We do a really good job of putting ourselves in the right positions (on offense)," Stroup said, "so if someone is out there they're definitely getting the ball. I'm not going to go up against a one-on-two; that doesn't make sense for us to do."
Crockett and Walton scored with Stroup assists, and Abby Taylor hit a long jumper before Stroup banked in a straightaway 3-pointer for an early 15-5 lead. The margin grew to 17 early in the second quarter as the Wildcats assisted on four consecutive baskets, two each by Crockett and Stroup.
"The ball moved so well in the first half. And not only did the ball move well, we moved well. All the things you had to do against a good zone like EJ's, we did," said Deitz. "Every time I've played East Juniata, (Quici) puts a good product on the floor and you've got to be really good to beat them. To beat them the way we did (Tuesday), we had to be really good."
Crockett's 14 points, a season-high that which matched her career-best, came on 5-of-9 shooting; Walton was 8-of-10; and Stroup finished 4-of-7 — all of which underscores their ball movement and patience. The Tigers, meanwhile, shot 7-of-30 through three quarters and trailed 43-15.
Only three teams held East Juniata to fewer than 32 points in a game: Bloomsburg, the No. 2 seed in District 4-3A, and the TVL finalists.
"Defensively, they were all over us," said Quici. "And our offense seemed a step slow like our defense was. We weren't doing a whole lot effectively on offense or defense. You play a great team like that, you have to execute."
Alyssa Robinson led the Tigers with 10 points, while Thea Neimond added six.
GREENWOOD 49, EAST JUNIATA 22
East Juniata (15-8) 22
Thea Neimond 3 0-0 6, Leah Sankey 1 0-0 2, Alyssa Robinson 4 1-1 10, Cypress Feltman 1 0-0 2, Isabel Naylor 1 0-0 2. Totals 10 1-1 22.
3-point goals: Robinson.
Did not score: Paris Feltman, Clarye Guyer, Amara Brubaker, Marisa Coudriet.
Greenwood (18-5) 49
Kenedy Stroup 4 3-3 12, Abby Taylor 2 0-0 4, Alli Crockett 5 4-4 14, Alli Walton 8 1-1 17, Mercedes McNaughton 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 8-8 49.
3-point goals: K. Stroup.
Did not score: Ella Brummer, Jordan Stroup, Madison Howell, Nyssa Yoder, Emilie Brinser, Ella Seiber, Sarah Pennay.
Score by quarters
East Juniata`5`8`2`7 — 22
Greenwood`15`13`15`6 — 49