NTL BOYS' BASKETBALL: WYALUSING PERSEVERES IN CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON
(2021-04-02)Northern Tier Sports Report
At the beginning of the season Wyalusing boys’ basketball coach Brent Keyes had a goal of getting back to the district title game, and winning it this time.
The Rams were able to avoid a bunch of pitfalls - both weather and Covid-19 related - and held off some of their opponents’ rallies to accomplish that goal, winning the Class AA championship.
“I am so incredibly proud of the season that our guys had,” said Keyes. “We were up against it early, being forced to start later than most area schools, missing out on a number of practices due to virtual days, etc. Our guys had a chip on their shoulder, and worked incredibly hard to improve throughout the season. It took a little while to mess our new pieces, and to figure out what worked for this team offensively and defensively.”
They jumped out to a 3-0 start, then fell back to earth during cross-over play, going 0-3 to sit at .500. However, once they got back in division play they rattled off six straight wins to ensure their spot in the division and district standings.
They swept the regular season series with NEB, Canton and Sayre - all playoff teams - and beat NP-Mansfield and rivals Towanda in cross-over games.
In the playoffs they used fast starts to beat Line Mountain, NEB and East Juniata to claim the division title. The semifinal game against the Panthers, their biggest rivals, will be remembered as a classic.
“In the end, through all the stress of this season, we accomplished the only goal we set at the beginning of the season, to win a District IV, Class AA title,” said Keyes. “No one can ever take that away from this group, and I am so happy for them.”
They were truly a balanced and eclectic group, with no true scorer and possibly their most important player averaging just 6.6 points per game.
Senior Mitchell Burke was fourth on the team in scoring, but wore many hats during the season - leader, center on defense, bnllhandler in crunch time, team’s leading rebounder - that most fans may not realize what he did for the team until he’s not on the court next season.
Offensively, Grayden Cobb transitioned from wing to point guard with success, while using his length to lead the team in steals. Isaiah Way returned from a year off and didn’t miss a beat, leading the team in scoring at 14 points per game with his athletic ability and soft touch. Fellow junior starters Nolan Oswald and Hunter Moss filled in their roles as 3-and-D specialists.
One thing that set the Rams apart from other teams was their bench mob, with Keyes comfortable going 4-deep off the pine. Senior Lucas Milne did the dirty work in the paint, sophomore Blake Morningstar came on strong offensively at the end of the season, junior Kashawn Cameron brought a spark whenever he came in and sophomore Nolan Oswald stepped up in big games.
“We will greatly miss our seniors, who have been outstanding leaders for our program and an absolute joy to coach,” Keyes said.
They return seven of the nine rotation players, and four of the five starters, so expect them to compete not just for the Class AA district title, but also the NTL Division-II title as well.
“With many guys coming back, we hope to maximize our offseason to be as ready for next season as possible,” said Keyes.
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