NTL BOYS BASKETBALL: FOUL TROUBLE, TURNOVERS PROVE COSTLY FOR WYALUSING; ATHENS RALLIES IN FOURTH QUARTER FOR 52-51 WIN (20 PHOTOS)
(2021-01-22)BY TIM BIRNEYNorthern Tier Sports Report
ATHENS — Wyalusing led by 11 points, but foul trouble and turnovers in the final 3 1/2 minutes proved costly as Athens rallied for a 52-51 win here Friday night in NTL boys basketball action.
“Credit Athens, it was a great effort to get back in the game,” said Wyalusing coach Brent Keyes.
“When the game got going up-and-down, we got in foul trouble, and it took some of our leadership off the floor,” he noted.
“We got sped up, turned the ball over,” added Keyes. “We gave too many possessions away in the second half.”
Keyes know this was a win the Rams let get away.
“There are no moral victories in varsity basketball,” he said. “We preach winning … every drill in our practices, everything we do from the offseason until now is competitive. We want to win.
“A statement would have been a 10-point win, and we had that in our grasp, and we didn’t finish the game,” added Keyes.
A 3-pointer by Grayden Cobb gave the Rams a 6-3 lead with 5:23 left in the first quarter. A 3-pointer by Hunter Moss, and another by Cobb pushed the lead to 14-7 about 2 1/2 minutes later.
A bucket by J.J. Babcock, an old-fashioned three-point play by Troy Pritchard, and a free throw by Tucker Brown trimmed the lead to 14-13 with 2:03 left in the first quarter, but the Rams closed the quarter with a 6-0 spurt, capped by a 3-pointer by Moss to make it 20-13 after the first eight minutes.
After Athens scored a pair of buckets to open the second quarter and trim the Wyalusing lead to 20-17, the teams traded scores until Isaiah Way knocked down a shot in the lane to give the Rams a 28-23 lead with 4:20 left in the first half.
Way added four free throws, and Kashawn Cameron scored on a driving lay-up to complete an 8-2 first-half ending run that sent the Rams to the halftime locker room with a 34-25 lead.
Athens coach Jim Lister credited Wyalusing for its patient offense in the first half.
“They run that weave at the top (of the key), and try to get you to fall asleep,” he said. “They make you play defense, and when you take a second off, they cut to the lane, or kick it out.
“We worked on it at practice for an hour last night, and we still struggled with it,” Lister added.
The Rams knocked down four 3-pointers in the first quarter, but Keyes said his team got away from the perimeter game after the intermission.
“We haven’t shot it real well all year,” he said. “Tonight, we saw some of them go in.
“We didn’t take a ton (of 3s) in the second half, we were trying to get to the rim,” noted Keyes. “We didn’t take enough shots in the second half.
“I just felt like we didn’t have as many possessions, and again we gave some of them away, so that’s on us,” added Keyes.
A driving lay-up by Mitchell Burke midway through the third quarter gave Wyalusing its biggest lead of the game, at 49-37.
A conventional three-point play by Babcock, and a free throw by junior Nalen Carling trimmed the deficit to 49-41 with 54 seconds remaining, but a driving lay-up Burke pushed the lead back to 10.
A point-blank jumper by Pritchard with 20 seconds remaining, pulled Athens within eight points, at 41-33, entering the fourth quarter.
A pair of free throws by Abram Bennett gave Wyalusing a 48-37 lead with 4:14 remaining, but Burke fouled out of the game 13 seconds later, and the Wildcats closed the game with a 15-3 blitz.
Babcock, a 6-5 junior, scored 11 points in the final 3 1/2 minutes to fuel the game-winning run.
J.J (Babcock) took over at the end,” said Lister. “He has a lot of God-given talent,and he’s a hell of a player.”
Babcock started the run with a short jumper with 3:30 left in the game. After a pair of Wyalusing turnovers, Babcock scored on a baseline drive, and added a free throw to complete the three-point play, trimming the deficit to 48-42 with 2:59 left in the game.
After a Wyalusing time out, Babcock came up with a steal in the Ram end, and scored on a breakaway lay-up to make it 48-44 with 2:21 left in the game.
Following another Wyalusing turnover, Brown was fouled on a drive to the bucket, and converted both free throws to trim the deficit to 48-46 with 1:53 remaining.
After both teams came up with defensive stops, Babcock recorded a steal, and found Carling in the lane with a shovel pass for an open jumper to tie the game at 48-48 with 1:04 remaining.
With both teams in the double-bonus, Bennett made 1 of 2 free throws with 57 seconds remaining, but Babcock tipped in an Athens miss16 seconds later to give the Wildcats a 50-49 lead.
With 29.7 seconds remaining, Way went to the line and drained a pair of free throws to give the Rams a 51-50 lead.
With 10.7 seconds remaining, Brown found Babcock open in the lane, and he was fouled. Babcock drained both free throws to provide the final margin, but the game didn’t end without a bit more drama.
Wyalusing in-bounded the ball, and called timeout when it cleared half court with 4.3 seconds. After the time out, a baseline jumper by the Rams was long, and Blake Morningstar was johnny-on-the-spot on the weak side with an offensive rebound, but his short jumper spun off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
I thought we played hard right to the end,” said Keyes. “Obviously, we just came up a little short … we got hurt by a couple second-chance points.
“We’ll learn from this,” he noted. “You have to be in tough situations, and you have to have things not go your way … and when things don’t go your way, how does your team respond?
“We’re going to learn how good we can be, when we see how this team responds,” added Keyes.
Way led a balanced Wyalusing attack with 12 points, six rebounds, and one blocked shot, while Burke had 11 points and four rebounds, and Moss scored seven points.
Cobb scored six points for the Rams, while Morningstar added five points, five rebounds, three steals, and one blocked shot, Cameron had four points and three rebounds, and Bennett chipped in with four points.
Babcock led Athens with 21 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, while Pritchard scored nine points, Brown had seven points, sophomore Mason Lister added five points, and senior James Benninger-Jones chipped in with four points.
Wyalusing, now 3-1, hosts Williamson Tuesday night.
IN PHOTO 1: Wyalusing’s Mitchell Burke. … PHOTOS BY DAVID ALLIGER … TRAVELING PORTRAITS.
Print Friendly Version