In the final 50.1 seconds against Penns Valley, the Juniata boys’ basketball team huddled in four timeouts to draw up a play for the go-ahead bucket.
Each time, the Rams protected their one-point lead to hold on for a 39-38 win over Juniata on Friday in the consolation game of their Ram Winter Jam tournament. While Juniata tried to set up plays, Penns Valley stayed aggressive on defense.
The Rams only had one team foul with 50.1 seconds left, so they looked to pressure the ball and go for steals. And Juniata never generated a game-winning shot in its final three possessions.
“Having the fouls to give did help,” Penns Valley coach Terry Glunt said. “Sometimes the officials aren’t even going to call it, and we might be able to get a steal out of it. That was beneficial.”
Penns Valley’s Logan Snyder stole Juniata’s desperation lob pass toward the rim with 0.8 seconds left to seal the win. It was a tight back-and-forth contest that saw the Rams take a one-point lead into the fourth quarter and hang on for the victory. Snyder, who finished with a team-high 13 points, ensured Penns Valley took momentum into the final period.
The Rams guard raced up the floor, dribbling past half court with time expiring in the third quarter, before preparing to launch a deep 3-pointer with two seconds left.
Glunt thought Snyder was fouled before he swished the shot at the buzzer to push the Rams ahead 34-33.
“I was in a one-sided conversation with the official that he was intentionally fouled, so I’m glad he didn’t pay attention to me,” Glunt said, smiling and laughing. “I didn’t even see it. My back was to it. All I heard was the roar. I’m like, ‘Nevermind.’”
Added Snyder: “That also gave us some more confidence going into the fourth quarter, so we could hold onto that lead.”
The Rams did just that, thanks to another big shot by Snyder and some timely fourth-quarter plays by Cole Breon.
Snyder drilled a 3-pointer to give the Rams a 37-33 lead, and Breon finished a layup to keep Penns Valley ahead 39-35. Juniata pulled within 39-38 with 1:55 left, but the Rams maintained their lead. Out of the timeout with 50.1 seconds left, Breon forced a jump ball.
“I’ve been letting Cole know that I appreciate the energy he brings to our team. That’s the kind of energy that is Penns Valley basketball,” Glunt said. “We need to start replicating that a little bit more than what we have been from everybody.”
Juniata and Penns Valley then traded turnovers before Juniata’s final chance with 0.8 seconds left. And Snyder was there to pick off the lob pass to prevent a last-second attempt.
“I knew it was coming,” Snyder said. “I knew the backdoor was coming and the lob was there.”