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NTL GIRLS' BASKETBALL: TROY PULLS AWAY LATE FROM WYALUSING FOR 5TH STRAIGHT WIN (2022-01-07)

BY CHRIS MANNING
Northern Tier Sports Report
TROY — For three quarters Troy fended off a feisty Wyalusing squad, then used a 14-4 fourth quarter run to pull away for the 52-33 NTL Division-I girls’ basketball win on Friday.

The victory is Troy’s fifth straight win, something they haven’t seen in quite a number of years.


“It’s really nice since I’ve. Never really been on a win streak before,” said senior guard Sydney Taylor. “It’s just nice to get going, and all the girls are having a fun time.”


It was a total team effort for the Trojans, as they played their entire bench in order to wear down the Rams.


“The freshmen came off the bench, and played well, the starters worked hard,” said Trojan coach Marshall McNeal. “We were working on a transition game and it’s working.”


The Rams led 10-9 after the opening tip but after Troy took the lead in in the second quarter they slowly pulled away from there, all the way through the final frame.


“Because we can play 10 we could keep it up the whole game,” remarked McNeal.


Taylor noticed their plan working from the first half to the second half of the contest.


“I was getting beat by some girls in the first quarter, and then, by the end of the third, I ended up beating them down the court,” she said.


Wyalusing was down just 38-29 after three quarters, but couldn’t mount a comeback. 


It’s the third straight game this week the Rams were in but couldn’t pull out the win. They missed several chances at the rim, especially in the opening quarter, and struggled to find the range, with just one 3-pointer on the day.


“The kids have really worked, and tried to pride themselves defensively because we’ve got a lot of girls stepping up in positions that they haven’t been in,” said Wyalusing coach Ricky Lindblad. “A couple girls asked to score that haven’t scored in the past, so I think they’re still trying to find that.”


Injuries and Covid-19 protocols have left plagued them this year, keeping their bench thin, but they’ve continued to put in a big effort regardless of the situation.


“I’m extremely happy with the effort the girls bring every single night,” said Lindblad. “It’s tough only having six, seven girls at a time at the varsity level.”


Alyssa Parks led Troy with 14 points, to go with five boards, while Taylor added 10 points, and two steals. Rachel Kingsley had eight points to go with 11 rebounds, with McKenna Matthews netting eight points as well.


Katie Lackey had six points and seven boards, as Kailyn Sterling finished with six points.


Layla Botts had 11 points to lead the Rams, with Laci Norton netting nine points to go with seven boards. Bryn Zionkowski had five points, as Olivia Leichliter notched four points, and 10 rebounds.


Marissa Johnson and Olivia Spencer had two points each, with Johnson grabbing six boards, and Spencer nabbing two steals.


It was Wyalusing getting the fast start, jumping out to a 5-0 lead behind buckets from Norton and Johnson, and a free throw from Botts.


After a timeout the Trojans cut it to 5-4 behind baskets from Parks and Kingsley. From there the two teams traded blows, with Botts hitting a jumper, followed by Parks sinking a shot. 


A Zionkowski 3-ball off a Johnson helper made it 10-6, but Matthews responded with a 3-pointer of her own off a Kendall Allen pass to make it 10-9 at the first horn.


The Rams continued to protect their lead as Norton found Leichliter for a bucket to push their advantage back to three points.


However, Troy would respond with a 7-1 run, beginning with a Taylor lay-up. Matthews then hit her second 3-pointer to give them a 14-12 lead, their first of the game. 


Botts would sink a free throw, but a Sterling bucket saw the Trojans go up 16-13.


The Rams would respond with their own run, a 6-3 burst led by Botts - who had a bucket and two freebies - while Norton had two free throws of her own, tying the game at 19-all.


Parks, though, had the final say before the half, drilling a 3-pointer to put Troy up 22-19 at the break.


The teams traded free throws to start the third quarter, but then Parks hit her second three, pushing Troy’s lead to 27-21. A Norton put back saw the Rams cut it to a 4-point deficit, but a Lackey bucket followed by a Taylor free throw made it 30-23 Trojans.


Leichliter had another put back to cut it to a 5-point deficit, but Troy answered with a 6-2 run. Kingsley had two free throws, followed by Matthews hitting a shot off a Taylor assist, and ending with a steal and lay-up from Sterling to push their advantage to 36-27.


The Rams would go 2-for-4 from the line after that, sandwiched around a Parks basket, for the 39-28 Troy with just the fourth quarter to go.


Points were hard to come by for both teams early going, but Troy would push their lead to 41-29 behind a Parks free throw, and a Lackey put back.


A Zionkowski lay-up cut it to 41-31 with 4:17 left, but that’s as close as Wyalusing got. Troy followed with 11 straight points to pull away, with five different Trojans fueling their closing spurt.


Wyalusing will have little time to recover as they host Athens on Monday, though they’ve defeated the Wildcats at home the past two seasons.


“We’re continuing to try to get better, and staying together as a family is really important,” Lindblad remarked.


As for Troy, they have Athens coming up, too, next Thursday, but first they’ll tangle with NP-Mansfield on Tuesday back at the Commons Building. They know the Tigers have won two of their last three games, so they can’t take them lightly.


“I think we want to clean up some of our passes,” said Taylor. “Try and just move the ball down the court as fast as possible.”


PHOTO CAPTION: Troy’s Sydney Taylor celebrates a bucket and foul against Wyalusing…PHOTOS BY CHRIS MANNING



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