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Northern Tier Sports Report
Wyalusing girls’ basketball is hoping to continue last season’s late surge into this year.

After starting 1-6 a year ago they finished 8-7, including a big win over Athens at home that ultimately gave the division title to Towanda.

But instead of deciding the league title for someone else they’re hoping to win it for themselves in 2021.

“We definitely want to compete for an NTL,” said senior Hailey Jayne.

They have the returners to do it as their four seniors have gotten quite a bit of playing time in their careers.

“This year we’re just staying positive and working hard,” said fellow senior Catherine Brown. “It’s full of uncertainty, we’re already starting a couple weeks late, so just when we’re here keep our minds here and just work hard.”

Second year coach Ricky Lindblad is leaning on that senior leadership as they look to improve on last season’s 9-13 record.

“Our team has four seniors that have gotten a lot of playing time since they were freshmen so I look for them to take control,” he said. “Take the lead a little bit, being the seniors and help with the younger girls.”

Jayne, Brown, Callie Bennett and Madison Putnam combined for 28.7 points per game a season ago, nearly 75 percent of their team average.

Of course, Lindblad would like to improve upon their 40.4 points per game from last year, too.

“We’re pretty athletic with the girls we have so we’re looking to push the floor and be a little more up pace than we were last year,” he explained. “We look to push the floor and get some easier buckets in transition - look to take advantage of the opportunities we’re given - whether it’s in the post or the guards. We’re going to look to take advantage of those.”

Jayne will also be changing her position to be on the wing more.

“So I can have a better transition back on defense because that’s my strong point,” she said.

The team has bought in to the tick up in pace, including last year’s leading scorer Callie Bennett.

“We have to work as a team, communicate, work up the court and push the ball,” she said.

A year ago Bennett averaged 11.1 points per game while Putnam was second on the team at 7.6 points per game.

“We just need to go right at it,” Putnam said about having a better start this season. “Don’t think about it, just do it.”

The win over the Wildcats last year showed what they could do when they put it all together.

“It really puts out mindset that, if we work as a team, we can beat anyone,” said Bennett.

Their coach believes they can have more games like that this season.

“I think we can have more games like that,” said Lindblad. “When we play to our potential we play together, we do all the right things like take care of the basketball, make key shots, get on runs, get some stops.”

Athens will once again be a team to beat, along with Towanda and NEB, though several NTL teams expect to be better this season.

“We kind of know how they already play,” said Putnam. “So if we watch hudl and stuff I think we can practice how they play and I think we’ll get it.”

It’s been a long pre-season with several stops and starts, leaving the girls chomping at the bit to get some game time.

“I think it’s going to be a little harder than other years because I think getting thrown into a game situation makes you learn a lot faster than just being stuck in practice,” said Brown. “It’s just something we’re going to have to adapt, too.”

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