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Northern Tier Sports Report
It’s time for a new generation of girls hoopers to take the reins for the Towanda Black Knights. Last year’s departing class was part of a 4-year, 4-title run, while this year’s squad will largely be filled with younger players and those who watched from the bench.

“It’s kind of like going back to the old days,” said Towanda coach Rob Gentile. “We’re in a new spot here. We have a really young roster, and we’re going to expect a lot from a lot of young kids. We have three freshmen that will have to step right in and get some varsity experience. We have two sophomores, and we have a handful of juniors that have been on the varsity team the last few years, but with limited experience, and that’s going to be our biggest issue.”

Their biggest holdover is sophomore Brynn Woodruff. She was a double-double threat down low, averaging 8.5 points per game as a freshman.

“I’ve been waiting for this all year,” Woodruff said. “I’ve been preparing all summer for it.”

Despite being an underclassmen Woodruff is ready to lead if needed.

“I feel like this team’s to help a lot,” she said. “We’re all very quick. We just have to learn how to play together, and I feel like we’ll get there.”

One player whose been waiting for her chance is Alonna Ayres. Ayres has been watching from the bench the past two years, and will now get her chance to lead the team as a point guard.

“It’s exciting because we have all the new people here,” she said. “I feel like we can build our own team and, not just, follow what the other kids did.”

One thing she took away from those other players is to play with confidence.

“We need to communicate and stick together,” said Ayres. “Just keep our heads up.”

What they lack in experience they make up for in speed and athleticism, so the Knights plan to lean into that this season.

“We lost a lot of really good players, a lot of experienced players, that understood the game,” Gentile remarked. “One thing we have is athletes, and we’ve got kids that are willing to work. I think people are going to see it. It’s obviously going to be a different team, and a different style, but we’ve been working on it in the gym for quite some time.”

Patience will be key as the word being thrown around is ‘growing pains.’ They know they might take their lumps - especially in their season opener at Loyalsock, who is expected to be one of the best teams in the state this season - but so far Gentile likes this team’s energy.

“We lost a lot of the leadership, but we have a lot of kids, and these kids enjoy the game,” said Gentile. “They’re friends, they’re great kids, some of the top kid in the school. They’re good students, they work hard on, and they enjoy being around each other. This style of basketball requires effort, and energy, and enthusiasm, so if we can keep that up, then we have an opportunity to be competitive.”

Despite the new faces Towanda is still the defending league champions four years running, and these players know they’ll have that bullseye on their back whenever they step on the court.

“It’s a lot of pressure,” admitted Ayres.

However, outside of Troy, pretty much every other team in the league has some holes to fill, so the Knights are in good company in that regard.

“I feel like most teams are going to really compete against us, which I think is going to make our younger kids a lot better,” Woodruff said.

ROSTER (Grade)

Melody Hakes (11)

Alonna Ayres (11)

Shaylyn Morris (11)

Lexi Lamphere (11)

Deztine Matthews (11)

Kiara Charnock (11)

Summer Hunsinger (11)

Brynn Woodruff (10)

Kennedy Heyer (10)

Payton Perry (9)

Mya Maynard (9)

Karis Flynn (9)

Hannah Kapichok (9)

Lylah Bride (9)


Dec. 2 at Loyalsock, 6 p.m.

Dec. 5 vs Sayre, 7 p.m.

Dec. 7 vs Elk Lake, 7 p.m.

Dec. 12 at Canton, 7 p.m.

Dec. 14 at Williamson, 7 p.m.

Dec. 19 at Wellsboro, 7 p.m.

Dec. 29 at Waverly, 2:30 p.m.

Jan. 3 vs Wyalusing, 7 p.m.

Jan. 5 vs CV, 7 p.m.

Jan. 9 vs Athens, 7 p.m.

Jan. 11 at Troy, 7 p.m.

Jan. 13 vs Williamsport 2 p.m.

Jan. 17 at NPL, 7 p.m.

Jan. 19 at NPM, 7 p.m.

Jan. 24 vs NEB, 7 p.m.

Jan. 26 vs Williamson, 7 p.m.

Jan. 29 vs Sullivan County, 7 p.m.

Jan. 31 vs Wellsboro, 7 p.m.

Feb. 2 at Wyalusing, 7 p.m.

Feb. 5 at Hughesville, 7 p.m.

Feb. 7 at Athens, 7 p.m.

Feb. 9 vs Troy, 7 p.m.

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