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NTL BOYS BASKETBALL: TOWANDA LOOKING TO KEEP MOMENTUM GOING IN 2023-2024 (2023-11-30)

BY CHRIS MANNING
Northern Tier Sports Report
Coming off last year’s success the Towanda boys’ basketball team will be looking for a new group to lead them this year. The Knights got back to the district playoffs a year ago, but also said good-bye to the senior class that was key to getting them there.

“We were pleased to get into the playoffs last season, and I think that would definitely be our goal again this year,” said coach Landon Henry. “To build off that I think we had a really positive summer, we had a lot of younger guys showing up and growing into some leadership roles. We’re going to need that from some of our underclassmen this year, they’re going to have to step up and be more vocal than what we typically would ask our underclassmen to be.”


A few key players from last year didn’t come out, but Towanda isn’t focused on that.


“We’re just going to work with what’s here, and make the best that we can,” said leading scorer Teagan Irish. Irish scored 11.5 points per game a year ago, and will likely need to increase that number to help them cover what they lost.


“In the off season I played a lot of travel ball,” said Irish. “A lot of workouts, getting ready for my senior year. It should be exciting, I’ve been working on my outside shot a little bit, and more defending, along with getting to the hoop - stuff like that.”


Another key returnee is sophomore Bayley Poll. Poll finished with 15 3-balls on the year, and proved to be money from the corner. 


This year he’s looking to take on an expanded role on the team.


“I think it’s a great opportunity for me to step up,” said Poll. “I’m going to try to get in the lanes and go in the post more often.”


Another player looking at taking on an expanded role is Connor Barnes. He helped their JV team last year to the Waverly Christmas Tournament title, and will likely have a similar spot on varsity this season.


“It’s a lot more expectations,” he said. “You have a lot more on your shoulders, but I feel like I’ve already been put in a situation where I’ve had to deal with leadership, so it doesn’t bother me that much, because I already know that I can do it and I know I can benefit the team.”


In year’s past Towanda has been one of the smaller teams in the league, but with Irish, Poll, and Barnes that’s already three players at 6-foot, 2-inches or taller.


“We’ve never been known as a bigger team, and adding more height helps a lot more on the rebounding side,” said Barnes. “I should say it’ll be a huge part for us.”


One area they’ll need to rebuild is the backcourt, which will likely be stocked with newer faces.. As far as the players see it, that spot is going to go to whoever works the hardest for it.


“We’re going to getting them working hard, getting them into that varsity level speed,” said Irish. “Staying in the guys, getting the best that we can out of them; staying positive, and making sure they’re doing everything right.”


Looking ahead a few teams around the league are in a similar boat - trying to fit new pieces with returning players. That has Towanda thinking they can be players in the league.


“We’ve got some pretty high team goals,” said Irish. “We want to compete in the NTL, we want to compete for a home playoff game, and possibly even win it. I can see it in the future, but we’ve got to start the season off strong, and work from there.”


ROSTER (Grades)

Teagan Irish (12)

Gianna Assante Di Cupillo (11)

Connor Banres (11)

Landon Clark (10)

Darrius Farrell (10)

Kole Heyer (10)

Cameron Miller (10)

Bayley Poll (10)

Jayden Bartholomew (9)

Markell Garner (9)

John Hemphill (9)

Donnie Johnson (9)

Benny Shrawder (9)

Lucas Vincent (9)

Cole Webb (9)

Graham Welles (9)


SCHEDULE

Dec. 4 at Notre Dame, 7 p.m.

Dec. 6 at Sayre, 7 p.m.

Dec. 12 vs Montrose, 7 p.m.

Dec. 13 vs Canton, 7 p.m.

Dec. 15 at Muncy Tournament, 7 p.m.

Dec. 16 at Muncy Tournament, 3:30 p.m.

Dec. 20 vs Wellsboro, 7 p.m.

Dec. 22 at NPM, 7 p.m.

Jan. 1 at CV, 7 p.m.

Jan. 5 at Wyalusing, 7 p.m.

Jan. 10 vs Athens, 7 p.m.

Jan. 12 at Troy, 7 p.m.

Jan. 15 vs Sullivan County, 7 p.m.

Jan. 16 vs NPL, 7 p.m.

Jan. 18 vs Williamson, 7 p.m.

Jan. 23 at NEB, 7 p.m.

Jan. 25 vs NPM, 7 p.m.

Jan. 30 at Wellsboro, 7 p.m.

Feb. 1 vs Wyalusing, 7 p.m.

Feb. 3 vs Candor, 4:30 p.m.

Feb. 6 at Athens, 7 p.m.

Feb. 8 vs Troy, 7 p.m.



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