SportsCast: NTL Showdown finals

Athens girls, Wellsboro boys repeat as 2017-18 champions

by Ed Weaver – February 19, 2018

The Northern Tier League hosted their annual NTL Showdown championship finals at Mansfield University on Saturday, February 17.

In rematches of last season’s Showdown finals, the Athens Lady Wildcats squared off against the Wellsboro Lady Hornets in the opening game while Wellsboro and North Penn-Mansfield battled in the nightcap.

Athens 47, Wellsboro 39

For the second year in a row, the Athens Lady Wildcats topped Wellsboro in the NTL Showdown final.

Things started out well for the Lady Hornets as they led 10-5 after the first quarter. Both teams put up 9 points in the second quarter and the Lady Hornets led 19-14.

The second half is when Athens came alive. After their halftime adjustments, the Lady Wildcats’ offense was able to crack Wellsboro’s zone and erupted for 15 points in the third to tie the game up at 29-29 heading into the final quarter. Athens continued to have Wellsboro’s number in the fourth. The Lady Wildcat defense held Wellsboro to just three field goals the entire quarter, while they scored 18 points, 10 of them coming from the foul line, to close out the 47-39 win.

“Athens played well, take nothing away from them,” said Wellsboro head coach John Davis. “We gave them second and third opportunities on the offensive glass which you can’t do against a good team. We need to really fix that this week. We’ve learned this lesson repeatedly that we need to get rebounds, box out, and fight for the ball. If we don’t it’s going to be a short playoff run. We’re going to face teams that are taller than us, and are as physical so we have to put a body on somebody and fight for that ball.”

Athens’ Emily Lunger led all scorers with a game-high 25 points and Kara Chapman backed her up with 16.

Junior Emma Poirier led Wellsboro with 15, senior Tory Self had 13, senior Lizzie Poirier had 6, sophomore Liza Manning had 3, and sophomore Cathryn Brought rounded out the scoring with 2 points.

The loss drops the Lady Hornets to 21-3 overall. The team is the top seed in the upcoming District IV Class AAA playoffs, and await their next game and opponent.

“I told the team during the game when it was close in the third quarter that we need the adversity and the challenge and a close game to get us ready for playoffs. On that same token you want to pull it out. We’ll use this as a stepping stone for playoffs.”

Wellsboro 60, North Penn-Mansfield 35

The Wellsboro Hornets used a big second half to pull away from rival North Penn-Mansfield in a 60-35 win in the NTL Showdown on Saturday, February 17.

“It feels great,” said Wellsboro head coach Todd Outman. “I’ve said before but I’m really happy for these kids. Our goals this year were to win a league title, win the Showdown and you know hopefully good things will happen in districts. Right now we’re 2-for-3 and hopefully we can make it 3-for-3.”

The Tigers got off to a fast start on quick baskets by Garrett David and Dylan Meyer to go up 6-2 two minutes into the game. Eventually the Hornets cut the Tigers’ lead to just one point. Layups by seniors Quinn Henry and Dalton Prough cut it to 9-8 with two minutes remaining. North Penn-Mansfield went back up four on a three-pointer from Jacob Green, but back-to-back three’s by Prough put the Hornets ahead for good at 14-12 with just over a minute left in the first.

Turnovers by the Hornets kept the Tigers close through the rest of the first half despite Wellsboro going on a 17-13 run. After trailing by 5 midway through the quarter Meyer hit a jumper and two foul shots cut it to 21-20. After Wellsboro pushed the lead back up to 23-20, two Green foul shots again made it a one point game. Wellsboro again pushed the lead to three, only to have Green hit a three-pointer to tie it up. Wellsboro would go on to hit four goul shots and a layup to take a 31-25 lead into the half.

The second half is when the Hornets really turned up the defensive pressure on the Tigers. Two early jumpers by senior Collin Pietropola and Henry pushed the lead to 10 and eventually 12 after a three by freshman Joseph Grab. The Hornets outscored Mansfield 11-5 in the third to lead 42-30.

The Hornets saved their biggest quarter for last as they went on an 18-point tear while holding the Tigers to just 5 points to lock up the win, and their second straight NTL Showdown victory.

“I wasn’t happy the way we were playing in the first half,” continued Outman. “They stepped it up, they’re competitors. I didn’t think we played our best game in the first half, that’s kind of what I talked to them about. I didn’t think we could play any poorer even though we shot the ball well, but defensively it allowed them to stay in the game and we talked about that. They worked on it, they stepped up to the plate and held them to 10 points in the second half.”

Three Hornets scored in double figures on the night, led by Prough with a game-high 18, Henry with 12, and junior Brandyn Tuttle with 11. Grab finished with 7 off the bench, Pietropola and senior Nic Ingerick scored 4 points each, and juniors Holden Kennedy and Andrew Brelo had 2 points each. Tuttle finished a rebound shy of a double-double, Henry had 4 assists and 4 rebounds, Prough had 4 rebounds and 3 steals, Ingerick had 3 assists, and Pietropola grabbed 3 rebounds and blocked 3 shots.

Green and Meyer led North Penn-Mansfield with 10 points each and Brent Burleigh finished with 5.

The win improves the Hornets to 23-1, tying a season best under Outman in his eight years (Wellsboro went 23-3 in 2012). The Hornets are the top seed in the District IV Class AAA playoffs, and will await their upcoming opponent at a date and time to be announced.

Idea/Concept: Ed Weaver
Videography: Ethan Chabala, Drew Patrick
Video Editing: Ethan Chabala
Writing: Ed Weaver
Anchor: Ed Weaver
Correspondent: Drew Patrick

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