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NTL BOYS' BASKETBALL: COBB, WAY LEAD WYALUSING PAST CANTON (2021-01-20)

BY CHRIS MANNING
Northern Tier Sports Report
WYALUSING — Wyalusing rode some hot shooting from Grayden Cobb and Isaiah Way coupled with tough defense to top Canton 50-34 in NTL Division-II boys’ basketball action Wednesday.

The Rams improve to 3-0 on the year with win, sitting atop the Small School standings with NP-Liberty (3-0).


“It feels good,” said Cobb. “We didn’t know how the season was going to start out with Covid and everything, but it’s nice to get out and on a roll.”


Cobb was hot early and finished with 15 points to go with six rebounds while Way had the hot hand in the second half, scoring a game high 19 points off the bench, while grabbing six boards and blocking two shots. Cobb had 12 points in the first half while Way netted 13 in the second half.


“Any time anybody can score and help the team, it’s nice,” Cobb said about Way’s play. “It’s good having him back.”


Way took last year off, and was a late add to the roster this year, but they’re definitely happy to have him. He gives them not just another offensive option, but another big body down low.


“It definitely helps getting size back, that was our biggest thing coming into this season,” explained Cobb. “We didn’t know if we were going to have enough size, and when he came back he was our tallest player, so it definitely helps.”


When Mitchell Burke got into foul trouble Way took over guarding Canton’s leading scorer, the 6-foot, 4-inch Isaiah Niemczyk, helping to hold him scoreless in the second quarter when the Ram defense was at their tightest. Wyalusing held Canton to just three points in the quarter, which allowed them to get a 14 point halftime lead.


“We just play good team defense,” said Cobb. “We give help when we can. We help each other if they get burnt.”


Burke had six points, four boards and three assists in limited minutes as he sat most of the first half with three fouls.


Hunter Moss and Blake Morningstar had three points apiece with Kashawn Cameron and Nolan Oswald both netting two.


Morningstar added seven boards as Oswald grabbed four, while Bennett had two assists and two steals.


Niemczyk had a workmanlike night for Canton, doing his best to carry the offensive load during their stretches of cold shooting. He did a good job drawing fouls, ending up on the line 10 times, where he made nine free throws. 


He finished with 19 points but found it tough sledding getting into the paint with Burke, Way and Lucas Milne all taking turns on him. And, once he got the paint, there were always a host of white jerseys there waiting for him.


Tyler Jannone finished with eight points as Caiden Williams, Cooper Kitchen and Cameron Bellows had two points apiece. Weston Bellows finished with one point.


The Warriors finished with just four 3-pointers made on the night as everything from jumpers to lay-ups didn’t want to go down.


It didn’t look like it was going to be a cold shooting night for Canton early on. After Wyalusing took a 5-0 lead in the first minute the Warriors hit back to back 3-pointers, the first by Niemczyk, the second by Jannone off a Niemczyk assist, to give them a 6-5 lead at the 3:40 mark.


In the final three minutes, though, Cobb found his offense after a few misses early. He drilled a 3-pointer, then watched Way make a driving lay-up to put the Rams up 10-6.


Niemczyk cut it to 10-8 with just under two minutes to play in the quarter with two freebies, sending Burke to the bench with three fouls in the process.


Cobb, though, finished strong, hitting another 3-ball on Wyalusing’s next possession - their third of the quarter - then had a driving lay-up just before the buzzer to make it 15-8 Rams at the quarter break.


He stayed hot, hitting a jumper for the first points of the second quarter. After Way made 1-of-2 from the foul line Cobb had a driving lay-up to extend Wyalusing’s lead to 20-8.


Niemczyk ended the nearly seven minute scoring drought for Canton with a free throw to cut it to 20-9. Way responded with a 3-ball, followed by two Oswald free throws to push the lead to 25-9.


A Kitchen jumper ended the Canton field goal drought - they hadn’t hit one since the 3:40 mark of the first quarter - and cut it to 25-11 at the half.


The Warriors found some offense in the third quarter, scoring first as Jannone found Cameron Bellows for a bucket. Cobb came back with a free throw but Niemczyk’s 3-ball cut the deficit to 10 points for Canton, 26-16.


A Williams lay-up after that got it to single digits as it looked like the Warriors were going to go on a run.


Way shut the door on that with a 3-pointer, thought, making it 29-18. Canton didn’t go away as Niemczyk came down and hit a tough jumper to once again get it to single digits.


Then, with 3:16 left in the quarter, Jannone was fouled on a drive and made 1-of-2 free throws, to once again get the deficit to eight points, 29-21.


However, in the last three minutes of the quarter the Rams went on a 9-0 run to extend the lead to 17 points at the quarter break. Way and Burke fueled the run with Way netting five of the points while Burke added the other four.


Down 38-23 Canton needed to get Wyalusing into foul trouble in the fourth while also getting some stops.


The Warriors did get the Rams into the bonus early in the quarter, and ended up shooting 10 free throws, making eight of them.


However, they couldn’t slow down the Wyalusing offense, never getting the deficit below 15 points early in the fourth. A Jannone free throw gave them a glimmer of hope as it made it 42-26 but a Way 7-0 run after that shut the door.


The win by Wyalusing puts them alongside NPL in the driver’s seat for the division while Canton now falls to third at 3-2. There’s a lot of season left, though, and things don’t get any easier for either team come this Friday.


Canton (3-2) hosts undefeated Troy (4-0) with a 6 p.m. start while Wyalusing (3-0) puts their undefeated record on the line with a trip to the NTL Division-I defending champions Athens (4-2). Their tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.


CUTLINE: Wyalusing’s Grayden Cobb goes up for a lay-up as Canton’s Isaiah Niemczyk defends…PHOTOS BY CHRIS MANNING.



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