HUNTINGDON, Pa.- The Juniata men's basketball team scored the first 17 points of the game and held Wilson scoreless over the first six and a half minutes as they went on to win, 69-52, Friday night in Memorial Gymnasium to kick off The Comfort Inn Classic.
The game got off to a sloppy start as the teams traded turnovers over the first minute and a half before Kohl Bernarding (Cochranton, Pa. / Cochranton H.S.) found Nathan Markey (York, Pa. / Central York) all alone behind the three-point line and he drilled it for the first JC bucket on their home floor of the year. Marcus Hall (York, Pa. / Trinity) got the ball at the elbow and found John Kelly (Philadelphia, Pa. / Roman Catholic High School) diving to the rim for a layup. A few possessions later Kelly swung the ball from the top of the key to Bernarding on the left-wing and he drilled a three to put JC up 8-0. Cameron Keck (Waynesboro, Pa. / Waynesboro) got in on the action as he drilled a three from deep on the left wing off a feed from Bernarding. The freshmen point guard from Cochranton, Pa. kept the assists coming as he threw a slick no-look bounce pass to Hall who laid it in to make it 13-0. Bernarding poked the ball loose, headed up the left wing before he found Nate DaCanal (Johnsonburg, Pa. / Elk County Catholic) on the opposite side of the floor for a layup. Zach Engle (Johnsonburg, Pa. / Elk County Catholic) scored inside of a pass from DaCanal to put Juniata up 17-0 with 13:41 to go in the half.
Wilson finally got on the with a three-pointer, but a layup from Nick Rigby (Huntingdon, Pa. / Huntingdon H.S.) of an Engle pass which was followed by a Jake Holsopple (Duncansville, Pa. / Hollidaysburg) interior bucket off another DaCanal assist as Juniata led 21-3.
Wilson's offense managed to get going a little as they got some shots to fall, and a free throw got them within 15, 36-21 with two minutes to go in the half. Keck was fouled while shooting a three and drilled all three of his foul shots. The Juniata defense forced another turnover and Keck found Holsopple in the corner for three which made it 42-21.
Juniata led 44-23 at the half as they shot 69.6% from the floor, 62.5% from three and 77.8% from the free-throw line in the first half. they assisted 15 of their 16 made shots, with their lone unassisted shot of the half coming 15 minutes into the contest.
Wilson opened the second half on a 17-7 run over the first 10 minutes as they cut the Eagle lead to 11 with a pair of foul shots.
The teams traded buckets over the next few minutes before Keck scored six straight points on a pullup jumper, a three and a free throw to help give the Eagles some breathing room at 59-42. Hall added a free throw of his own and Markey swished another three of a DaCanal pass to make push the lead back over 20. Wilson scored on a layup before Keck drilled another three, this one of a Holsopple pass which made it 66-44 with just under four minutes to go in the game.
Wilson didn't threaten the rest of the way as Juniata held on to win, 69-52.
Juniata will take on The College of Saint Elizabeth, Saturday at 4:00.