Huntingdon, Pa.- The Juniata women's basketball team won the 12th Annual Holiday Classic championship game against Delaware Valley, 68-52, Saturday afternoon at Memorial Gymnasium to head into the new year a perfect 11-0.
Tournament MVP Dani Atkinson (Lancaster, Pa./Lancaster Catholic) had 23 points and six steals, Morgan Instone (Johnstown, Pa./Bishop McCort) had 16 points and five rebounds while Bethany Spencer (York, Pa./ York Suburban) had 11 points. Rachael Anstine (York, Pa./Dallastown) had eight points and two blocks.
Delaware Valley jumped out to a 9-4 advantage, with a Instone layup and two Anstine foul shots providing the points for JC early. Gracie Stauffer (Loysville, Pa./West Perry) scored on a put back while being fouled and made her free throw, the Aggies scored on a layup inside, and Suzy Badorf-England (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Mechanicsburg High School) made two foul shots to pull the Eagles within two. Delaware Valley scored the next two baskets to push their lead to six; Anstine grabbed an offensive rebound and laid it off the glass in traffic as JC trailed 15-11 after one.
The Eagles opened the second quarter by turning defense to offense, with Spenser stealing the ball and tossing it ahead to Atkinson, who raced in and scored to make it 15-13. The teams traded buckets, with Delaware Valley clinging to a 21-20 lead following a Makayla Carles (Tyrone, Pa./Bellwood-Antis) layup off a Stauffer pass from the high post. On the next offensive possession, Stauffer found a wide open Instone who nailed a jumper to hand the Eagles their first lead. After DelVal scored on a midrange jumper, Stauffer dished her third straight assist, again to Instone who converted inside to make it 24-23 Juniata. Instone scored on another jumper to send the Eagles into the locker room with a 26-23 lead at halftime. Juniata was struggling from the floor (33.3%) and from three (9.1%) through one half of action, but their fortunes would change in the second.
Instone was at the center of offense early to start the third. She passed out of a double team to an open Atkinson on the right wing who swished a three to make it 29-23. Instone made a pair of foul shots and converted on a nifty left-hand layup inside which made it 35-27. Atkinson split a pair of foul shots before she drilled back to back three's off of passes from Carles and Instone, respectively. Spenser got in on the three-pointer fun, nailing a three of her own off a pass from Atkinson to make it 45-36 with 2:12 to go in the quarter. JC ended the quarter up, 49-38.
Delaware Valley got as close as nine at one point early in the fourth, but the Eagles pulled away to claim their 11th straight win of the year.
Juniata's offense found their way in the second half, shooting much better from the floor (51.9%) and from three (38.9%).
JC heads into the new year undefeated and will travel to play at Lancaster Bible, January 3rd. Tipoff is 5:30.