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NTL BOYS' BASKETBALL: TROY RUNS OUT TO FAST START, HOLDS OFF WYALUSING RALLY LATE TO PICK UP WIN (2023-01-21)

BY CHRIS MANNING
Northern Tier Sports Report
TROY — Troy had their offense humming in the first half against Wyalusing, and, despite a herculean effort out of Ram Blake Morningstar, the Rams couldn’t keep up as the Trojans picked up a 67-50 NTL Division-I boys’ basketball win Saturday.

Troy led by as much as 22 points in the first half, and extended their lead to 26 midway through the third quarter. Wyalusing would claw their way back into the game, cutting it to 14 points halfway through the fourth quarter, but Troy clamped down after that, holding the Rams to just three points in the final four minutes of the game to secure the win.


“We were just trying to pick up the pace as much could, and get out and run, and I was proud of how hard our kids played,” said Troy coach Bob Woodward.


The Trojans got contributions from just about everybody who played, with eight players breaking into the scorebook.


JB Burbage led the way with 16 points to go with five boards while being matched up with the much bigger Morningstar.


“He’s a really good player,” Burbage said about taking on Morningstar. “We really wanted to play some of our defense to really stop him but he was still making his shots.”


Burbage said their goal was to try and get him in foul trouble, but that didn’t work as he had just three fouls on the day. That aggressive worked to their advantage, though, as they got a lot of good looks at the rim throughout the game.


“JB is an effort kid,” said Woodward. “I think we have a lot of effort kids, you know, and we work on it, and take pride in it. It’s a tough opponent, and for JB it’s a tough opponent, and just trying to do the little things better each game.”


They definitely had their offense humming in the first half, scoring 44 points with just one turnover.


“That felt really good,” said Burbage. “We came out hot. Hopefully we can keep that going throughout the season.”


Evan Woodward finished with 13 points, six boards, four assists, and four steals.


Justice Chimics finished with 10 points, four boards, and six assists, as Colin Loveland had nine points to go with three assists, and four steals.


Lincoln Chimics chipped in with eight points - including two big baskets late in the fourth quarter - while also grabbing five rebounds.


Jackson Taylor added six points with three assists, and two steals, while Trevon Teribury had three points, and Lance Heasley finished with two points, four boards, and two steals.


“These guys are unselfish,” remarked Woodward. “In 23 years, as far as the type of people that we have, I don’t think I can be more prouder of a team than I am this team. They care about each other. They’re not concerned about who gets the credit, and they just want to keep getting better.”


Despite the loss Morningstar had one of the bet games of his career, finishing with 29 points and 12 rebounds. He was making them from everywhere - the paint, mid-range jumpers, and even two 3-pointers.


“Blake’s an outstanding, hard-nosed kid,” said Woodward. “He hustles all over the place - it’s not just scoring. He’s a great representative of a tough kid.”


Fellow senior Thomas Oliver added nine points, while Parker Petlock scored eight. Trehnon Hugo chipped in with four points.


It was the Rams who started fast, jumping out to a 6-1 lead in the first two minutes thanks to two baskets from Morningstar, and a lay-up out of Hugo.


Troy answered with an 11-0 run over the next three minutes. Loveland found Taylor for a basket, then had a steal and jumper himself. Taylor then had back to back lay-ups off steals, with Justice Chimics ending the run with a 3-ball, making it 12-6.


Morningstar would end the run with back to back baskets to cut it to 12-10 with 2:10 on the clock.


Burbage started another run with a 3-ball, followed by a Loveland 3-point play. Justice Chimics then found Lincoln Chimics for a bucket to put the Trojans up 20-10.


With 15 seconds to play Morningstar found Petlock for a 3-ball, but Taylor had the final say of the quarter, hitting a jumper at the buzzer for the 22-13 Troy lead.


Burbage came out and got a put back to start the second, the beginning of an 8-0 run to start the quarter for Troy. Heasley, Burbage and Lincoln Chimics had the next three baskets to push their lead to 30-13.


Morningstar ended the run with a lay-up, but Woodward answered with a jumper. A Morningstar 3-ball cut it to a 14-point deficit halfway through the quarter.


Troy, though, pressed on, starting a new run off a Justice Chimics 3-ball off their second offensive rebound of the possession. Burbage then had four straight points to push the Trojan lead to 39-18.


Petlock had a driving lay-up, but Trevon Teribury answered with a corner 3-ball to get their largest lead of the night - 22 points.


Wyalusing would hit two 3-pointers sandwiched around a Troy bucket to cut it to 44-26 at the break.


The Trojans got two early baskets out of Justice Chimics and Woodward to extend their lead to 22 points again. A pair of Oliver free throws cut it to 48-28 three minutes into the second half.


Troy would flirt with a 30 point lead as they went on a 6-0 run, started by a Woodward 3-ball. At the end of that spurt they led 54-28 halfway through the third quarter, holding the Rams to just two points in the first four minutes of the third.


They made it a point of emphasis at the half to try and slow Morningstar down.


“We had to come out and try to not let Blake score as much,” explained Burbage. “He still had quite a bit, but I think we did a good job not letting everybody else score as much.”


Wyalusing, though, still had some life left in them as they began to rally in the second half of the third quarter.


A Morningstar free throw followed by a jumper cut it to 54-33. Woodward would hit two freebies, but Hugo came back with a jumper. The two teams then traded baskets down the stretch as Troy kept their 21-point lead, 58-37.


The Rams made one last run to start the fourth in order to get back into the game. Morningstar and Oliver had back to back baskets in the first minute. Burbage would answer with a jumper, two Morningstar baskets cut it to 60-45 with 5:32 left.


Loveland would go 1-of-2 from the line, as Morningstar continued to will his team back with a jumper to make it a 14-point lead with four minutes to go.


That’s as close as they got, with Lincoln Chimics getting two tough back to back lay-ups to give Troy the momentum back. 


An Oliver 3-ball with 2:20 left gave the Rams some hope, cutting the deficit to 15 points again, but the Trojans did a good job of killing over a minute off the clock in their next possession, which ended in a pair of Loveland free throws, that he made, securing the win for the Trojans.


Wyalusing will return home on Tuesday as they welcome Sayre. Before the game they’ll be honoring Blake Morningstar for grabbing his 500th career rebound against Williamson.


Troy will host Williamson on Tuesday, then both of these teams will meet again on Thursday - weather permitting - as they head into the second cycle of divisional play.


The Trojans had three close losses to NP-Mansfield, Wellsboro, and Athens the firs time around, and they hope they’ll be able to do the things necessary to close the gap in the coming weeks.


“Obviously, every team wants to do this, but we want to be at our best moving forward,” said Woodward. “Whatever it takes. We’ve had some great experience, and maybe they didn’t end up the way we wanted them to, but I think we’re starting to move our focus, instead of putting so much pressure on winning, is the pressure to get better.”


— — 


PHOTO CAPTION: Troy’s JB Burbage goes up for a shot against Wyalusing…PHOTOS BY CHRIS MANNING



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