Northern Tier Sports Report
TROY — Troy’s Ty Barrett finished with 30 points, but it was Ethan VanNoy who hit the go ahead 3-pointer in the closing seconds, as the Trojans rallied to beat Wellsboro 60-57 in NTL Division-I boys’ basketball action Thursday.

The win puts Troy two games ahead of Wellsboro in the loss column with four league games left.

“They’re maturing,” Troy coach Steve Renzi said about his team. “Ty can score anytime he wants, but Ty’s learning how to play team basketball, and trusting his teammates more and more each game.”

Renzi was especially happy to see them come out with a renewed intensity in the second half as they were down 28-22.

“In the second half they’re playing with intensity, that every possession counts,” explained Renzi. “It’s what we’ve been teaching all year, but they would take possessions off, and not all of them would count. They’re starting to learn that. They learned it in the second half tonight, they played a lot better. They were playing as a team, each possession counted.”

They needed all of them to get the win over Wellsboro, who had recently beaten NP-Mansfield and Athens to keep pace with Troy in the Large School standings. The Hornets lost to NEB on Saturday, giving the Trojans an opening to take a 2-game lead with a win this week, and they snatched it.

“It’s a great feeling because it shows, ‘hey, we’re here,’” said Mason Imbt, who nabbed his 500th career rebound Wednesday. “We’re capable of coming back, we’re capable of playing in the long run, and we can play with every person out there.”

Imbt had 12 boards on the night to go with five points.

“It’s a personal goal I’ve had since I walked out on to the floor as a freshman,” he explained about the milestone. “I came out there, and Coach Renzi said, ‘you need to be a rebounder for us.’”

Imbt took a look up in the rafters at the all the members of the 500 rebound club.

“I said, ‘why don’t I join them,’” he recalled. “It’s an amazing feeling.”

After a back and forth first quarter the Hornets held Troy to just seven points in the second to build their lead, as Barrett had just eight points in the first half. Wellsboro’s stopper Darryn Callahan was hounding him most of the time while their team defense was moving well behind him.

Then, starting in the third quarter, Barrett saw some deep shots go in, forcing Callahan to play him tighter. That allowed the junior guard to go by and get to the basket more.

“The first half I was seeing what was going on,” explained Barrett. “I saw a lot of shots I wanted to take in the first half, but I was like ‘we don’t need it yet.’ The second half came around, I was like ‘we need to score some points, I’m going to take those shots that I saw that were there.’”

Barrett didn’t shoot a single free throw on the night, though Troy was perfect from the line, going 7-for-7.

VanNoy finished with 10 points as Zeb Oldroyd came off the bench for nine points and three steals. Jake Deitrick added six points and six boards, while Morgan Madigan added three rebounds.

Liam Manning was Tim Duncan-esque from the low block for Wellsboro, using a high bank shot to tally up 18 points to lead the Hornets. Peyton McClure added 12 points, while Isaac Keane netted 10.

Conner Adams scored nine, Callahan finished with six and Drew Manning added two.

Wellsboro didn’t make many mistakes, especially in the first half, though their 8-for-17 night at the free throw line hurt. Going 2-for-8 in the final frame as they nursed a lead came back to haunt later.

It was tit-for-tat in the opening quarter as Liam opened the scoring with a jumper. Barrett came back with a 3-ball, but two freebies by McClure put Wellsboro back up 4-3.

Barrett found Deitrick for a lay-up to put Troy back up, but an Adams jumper gave the Hornets a 6-5 lead halfway through the first quarter.

Barrett bagged a jumper shortly after that, but a McClure 3-pointer put the Hornets up 9-7. Imbt came back with an old fashioned 3-point play - a put back and foul shot - to give the Trojans a 10-9 lead.

It was short lived as 15 seconds later Keane had a put back, followed by a McClure jumper, giving the Hornets a 13-10 advantage with two minutes left to play.

That’s when Oldroyd came off the bench and made his mark as he hit back to back shots, the second a 3-pointer, to put Troy up 15-13 with 1:19 left in the quarter.

Callahan’s jumper on the next possession tied it up at 15-all, and that’s how it ended during the first horn.

Wellsboro wasted no time coming out in the second quarter as Liam had back to back buckets to put the Hornets up 19-15. Imbt came back with a put back, but a Callahan Jumper made it 21-17 three minutes in.

Deitrick countered with a lay-up, but over the next four minutes the Hornets went on an 8-0 run to go up 28-19.

Barrett cut it to 28-22 with a 3-pointer, which were the final points before the half.

Keane opened the second half with a jumper for Wellsboro, making it an 8-point lead again, but that’s when Barrett hit back to back step back 3-pointers, which seemed to turn the tide of the game.

“After I did that it seemed like I could just drive by, and either make a pass or get to the rim,” said Barrett.

Those cut it to 30-28 with six minutes left in the third.

Adams would end the run with a 3-pointer of his own, followed by Barrett getting a driving lay-up. A 4-0 run by the Hornets as Keane and Adams had back to back lay-up put them up 37-30 halfway through the quarter.

Troy would out score them 11-7 in the final four minutes as Barrett led things off with a jumper. McClure would make two freebies, but Oldroyd had two free throws on the other end, followed by a Barrett lay-up cut it to 39-36.

Liam would go 1-for-2 from the line, but a Barrett lay-up cut it to 40-38 with a minute left in the quarter.

The Hornets would get back to back buckets to go up 44-38, but a Barrett to VanNoy 3-pointer right before the horn made it 44-41 Wellsboro.

Troy wasted no time in the fourth as they went on a 4-0 run to take their first lead since the first quarter, going up 45-44 a minute in.

The two teams then traded leads - Keane hit a jumper while VanNoy went 2-for-2 from the line - before the Hornets went on a 5-0 run as Liam hit a put back followed by a McClure 3-ball, to take a 51-47 lead halfway through the quarter.

Barrett then went to work, getting back to back jumpers to knot things up at 51-all with just under three minutes to play.

Keane would miss two free throws on the offensive end, though Troy turned it over on an offensive foul.

Liam made Troy pay, hitting a jumper off the glass to put the Hornets up 53-51. After another Troy turnover Adams went 2-for-2 from the line to give the Hornets a 55-51 lead with 2:09 left to play.

VanNoy hit a running jumper during Troy’s next possession to cut it to 55-53. Wellsboro then worked the clock for nearly a minute before Troy fouled Keane.

However, his free throws were off, giving Troy another possession. Barrett took the ball the length of court for a lay-up, tying the game up at 55-all with just under a minute to play.

At the other end Liam found Keane on a nifty give-and-go for a lay-up, make it 57-55 Wellsboro with 30 seconds left.

On Troy’s ensuing possession Barrett drove right, then kicked it to the far left corner. Nick Williams passed it to Oldroyd on the wing, who passed it to VanNoy at the top of the key, who buried the 3-pointer to put Troy up 58-57 with 13 seconds to play.

“It wasn’t really a drawn up play,” said VanNoy. “It was just the way it happened. That extra pass was what we needed, and I hit the shot.”

At the other end Wellsboro got off a shot, but it bounced off the rim, and into the arms of Oldroyd, who was fouled. He hit both freebies with 1.3 seconds left, and that was game.

“It feels relieving that we didn’t lose a close game,” said Barrett. “We’ve been in a few of those games last year, and that’s a loss that hurts. This one feels really good.”

That final Wellsboro possession was similar to the one in their loss to NP-Mansfield last season, when they gave up the offensive put back, which not only cost them the game, but also the NTL title. This time, there were several Troy players ready to grab the defensive board.

This is the third league loss for the Hornets where they were leading in the fourth quarter. The first was in their season opener at Athens, the second was last Saturday at NEB - where they lost on a 3-pointer at the buzzer in overtime - and the third was on Wednesday night.

Going forward, the Trojans host Loyalsock Thursday, before finishing the week with CV on Saturday. They host Towanda Monday, and, assuming they win those two league games, that sets up a potential rousing final two contests.

On Tuesday they travel to NP-Liberty, which is where they could clinch a league title at the earliest, assuming Wellsboro doesn’t lose any more games either. They still have to travel to their rivals, NP-Mansfield, on Monday.

The Mountaineers only have one league loss this season - to Wellsboro - and will be a tough out as they try to clinch their second straight NTL Division-II title.

If it comes down to it Troy travels to Wellsboro for their season finale on Thursday, February 25.

Right now, though, the Trojans are taking it one step at a time.

“It’s just another step towards winning a championship,” said VanNoy.

CUTLINE: Troy players celebrate as they hold on to beat Wellsboro Wednesday…PHOTOS BY CHRIS MANNING.

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