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NTL BOYS' BASKETBALL: WYALUSING'S COBB NETS 1,000TH POINT IN PLAYOFF WIN OVER LINE MOUNTAIN (2022-02-23)

BY CHRIS MANNING
Northern Tier Sports Report
WYALUSING — Grady Cobb’s 3-point attempt hit every side of the rim, settled for a bit, then slowly rolled through for his fifth make, and 15th point, of the game, giving him 1,000 for his career Wednesday. It was one of 11 first half 3-pointers that the Rams saw go through as they scorched Line Mountain for an 86-52 District IV, Class AA boys’ basketball quarterfinal win.

The Rams went 14-for-29 from 3-point land on the day - 11-for-20 in the first two quarters - as everything was coming up roses for them.


“It was awesome to see,” said Wyalusing coach Brent Keyes. “We got a lot of seniors, their last time every playing here in Layman Gymnasium. Our community’s been coming out for four years for this group, and it was packed tonight, it was loud, it was a good environment for the kids in a home playoff game. You work all year to earn that, so to see them come out and make shots was really cool.”


Cobb led the way, hitting four 3-balls in the first quarter alone - a few of them nothing but net. Then, with 6:55 on the clock in the next quarter, Cobb got his fifth 3-pointer, and his 1,000th career point.


“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “My first goal was to get out, win the game. We kind of got out to an early lead so I was able to focus on that a little bit, and then once I got it it just took all the pressure off.”


It didn’t look like he had any pressure on him as he swished his first 3-ball three seconds into the game, then hit his next with 7:11 on the clock.


“I felt pretty confidence coming in,” said Cobb. “Once I hit the first shot - it’s always nice to start off on a make, then you have the confidence going.”


Then came the 1,000th point 3-pointer, and despite Line Mountain defenders in the area, Cobb was feeling it.


“We were up by then, and I was just kind of trying to get it over with,” he said. “All my family was telling me to get it in the first quarter just so it’d be done with, so that was kind of the right time for it - it felt good.”


It’s been quite the journey for Cobb, who didn’t score a varsity point as a freshman. He burst onto the scene as a sophomore, and has only gotten better since.


“I thought this year he’s done a really great job handling the ball, the boy’s gotten stronger with the ball,” said Keyes. “He was a good shooter, obviously his sophomore year, he was a good finisher, and he was a good scorer, but I think he’s a better basketball player now. Credit to him, he’s just worked so hard, and he’s growing up, he’s just matured.”


Early in the season Cobb was focusing on his point guard duties, which meant his scoring totals were a little under pace to reach this milestone.


“I think he kind of wrote this off, and a couple games early where he didn’t score, but we were winning, and he was passing the ball,” Keyes explained. “He was handling the ball, he’s playing better defense. And then the last month he’s been scoring it a lot better, and he’s just played so well; and as a team we played well. He kind of fuels us, he’s our emotional leader.”


Keyes wasn’t sure how having a milestone like this in reach would do - sometimes it’s a hinderance, but in this game it seemed to energize Cobb.


“You never know how kids are going to respond, but Grady, when he’s got a little extra motivation, or he’s a little bit fired up about something, he tends to shoot the ball well, he tends to play with a lot of confidence,” said Keyes. “To see that first one go in, he’s got a much better chance to make the next couple. He was on fire, I’m really happy for him, really proud - he’s worked his whole life for this the last couple of seasons.”


And that, in turn, seemed to energize his teammates.


“We have such an unselfish group that I think they were just as excited for him as he was, which is really cool,” said Keyes. “That’s what we preach. You got to be more happy for your teammate than yourself - it’s nice to see that, that makes it special. It’s really cool as a coach to see that, and just get your so proud of the whole group and then for them to feed off that energy, and get a big playoff win.”


Cobb finished with 20 points, six steals, and four rebounds, while Blake Morningstar added 30 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double to go with three steals, two assists, and two blocks.


Isaiah Way had 24 points - including six 3-balls - plus 11 boards to get the double-double, and three steals.


Abram Bennett chipped in with eight points, six assists, and three steals, as Kashawn Cameron and Hunter Moss had two points each. Moss also had three boards and three assists, with Cameron getting three assists, and two steals. Nolan Oswald had two assists off the bench, as well.


Riley Young led the Eagles with 29 points, but nobody else scored in double figures for Line Mountain.


It was a fast paced game, especially in the first half. A total of 34 points were scored in the first quarter, with Wyalusing up 22-12, then the two teams combined for 48 points in the second quarter, with the Rams out scoring them 30-18.


“Relentless energy is what I wrote on the board,” said Keyes. “I just feel like when we started practicing harder and playing consistently hard, and we have a chance every night.”


The Rams jumped out to an 11-3 lead in the first three minutes of the game behind two 3-pointers from Cobb, a bucket and a free throw from Morningstar, plus a jumper out of Way.


After about a two minute lull of no scoring Bennett found Morningstar for bucket to make it 13-3.


Young would comeback with a jumper, but a Cobb 3-ball off a Cameron assist pushed the Ram lead to 16-5.


Over the next two minutes the Eagles would claw their way back into the game, going on a 5-3 run to cut it to 19-10 with 44 seconds to play.


Cobb ended that streak with a 3-pointer, but Line Mountain’s Nick Snyder had the final say with a lay-up late for the 10 point Ram lead at the first horn.


Line Mountain came out of the break and went on a 4-0 run in the first minute of the second quarter to cut it to 22-16.


That’s when Cobb hit his milestone getting 3-pointer, to make it 25-16. Line Mountain would follow with a lay-up, but Way came back with a 3-pointer to make it 28-18.


Young would get a lay-up at the six minute mark for a 28-20 score, but that’s when the roof went off the building for the Rams.


In the final six minutes they out scored Line Mountain 24-10, beginning with a Morningstar bucket. Way then had a jumper, Morningstar hit a 3-ball, and then Bennett hit Morningstar for another bucket to extend the Ram lead to 37-20.


Young would come back with a 3-pointer, but Bennett got it back with a 3-ball of his own. Cobb then had a steal and bucket, followed by an assist to Way for a 3-pointer to push the Ram lead to 45-23 as Wyalusing began to resemble the ‘He’s on Fire’ streak on NBA Jam for those of a certain generation.


The lead would get as high as 47-23 with 2:02 left on a Morningstar jumper, with Young ending the run with a lay-up at the other end.


The two teams then traded two point plays, followed by 3-balls, to make it a 22 point Wyalusing lead at the half.


In the third Wyalusing opened with a Bennett 3-ball, followed by a Morningstar jumper to extend their lead to 57-30. Young would answer with five straight points to cut it to 57-34, but back to back lay-ups off steals by Bennett and Cobb extended the lead back to 61-34. 


A Morningstar put back with 4:38 on the clock made it a 29-point lead for the Rams.


Line Mountain would get a 3-ball, but a Way jumper followed by a Morningstar jump hook put it into the mercy rule with 2:31 left in the third as the Rams led by 30 points, 67-37.


Wyalusing will now face Canton for the third time this season at Towanda on Saturday with a 1 p.m. start.


The two teams split during the regular season, and Keyes knows there’s no secrets at this point.


“It’s be a battle,” said Keyes. “Brock (Kitchen) knows us really well, obviously, and we know them well, so you’re not going to get anything free. We’ll come up with a plan, as they will, and whatever team gets to their stuff and makes more shots, will have a chance to be on the right side.”


Two years ago in the district semifinals Wyalusing rallied to beat Canton by 1-point, 44-43, so there is some playoff history between the two teams.


“That’s a league rivalry that we always look forward to,” said Cobb. “And we’re going to be working all week in practice.”


PHOTO CAPTION: Wyalusing’s Grady Cobb shoots the 3-pointer that got him to the 1,000 point plateau…PHOTOS BY CHRIS MANNING



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