December 30, 2021 Chris Manning

SAYRE - After a close opening-round win over Waverly, Athens wanted to set the tone early against Towanda in the Valley Christmas Tournament boys' basketball championship game on Thursday. And they did that, and more, jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first four minutes and never looking back en route to their 69-36 win over the Knights.

"It's awesome," Athens coach Jim Lister remarked. "You know, this was our first goal of the year, we wanted to come out and play well, and win this Christmas Tournament, and we accomplished that, so we're thrilled."

They led 25-6 after the opening quarter, though in the second Towanda would cut it to a 12-point deficit. However, Athens used another 25-point third quarter to pull away for the win.

"We played a great first quarter today, I was really happy with the way they played," said Lister. "They kind of got a little bit lackadaisical in the second, but they came out, and got it done in the third."

J.J. Babcock had 22 points, two steals, three boards, and two dunks to lead the Wildcats.

"It feels great, one last ride with my brothers; it just feels good all around," remarked Babcock. "We just came out really intense. We wanted this one more than anything, and we knew Towanda was going to bring it, but we had to bring it more."

Ten different players scored for Athens as 12 Wildcats saw the court in all, especially a lot of the younger players.

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December 29, 2021 Tim Birney

TOWANDA - Addy Wheeler scored 12 points to lead Athens to a hard-fought, 28-26, win over Northeast Bradford in the championship game of the junior varsity girls Valley Christmas Tournament here Wednesday afternoon.

Mya Thompson scored four points, including an old-fashioned three-point play, in the first quarter, and Sara Bronson added a bucket to stake Athens to a 6-5 lead.

Wheeler scored five points, including a 3-pointer, as Athens upped its lead to 13-11 at half in the defensive struggle.

Bronson and Wheeler scored four points apiece in a 9-7 third-quarter advantage that extended the junior Wildcats' lead to 22-18.

Athens, which made 5 of 10 free-throw shots in the first three quarter, made 4 of 7 in the final stanza to seal the win. Wheeler was 3 of 5.

Wheeler had six rebounds, six steals, and one blocked shot to go along with her 12 points, while Thompson had seven points, four rebounds, three assists, and two blocked shots, and Bronson had seven points and three assists.

Kelsea Moore and Emma Neuber led NEB with eight points apiece, and Lillie Maynard added six.

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December 29, 2021 Tim Birney

TOWANDA - Athens raced out to a quick double-digit lead, and cruised to a 47-18 win over Towanda here Wednesday afternoon in the championship game of the junior varsity boys Valley Christmas Tournament.

Chris Mitchell pumped in 10 points, while Xavier Watson and Matt Aquilio added four points apiece to fuel a 21-4 blitz in the opening stanza.

The two teams played even in the second quarter, thanks to a pair of buckets by Noah Hobday, and the junior Wildcats led 27-10 at the half.

Five different Athens players put their names in the scoring column in the third quarter in a 10-run that  extended the lead to 37-10. Eleven of Athens' 13 players on the roster scored in the win.

Mitchell led Athens with 12 points, while Aquilio scored 10 points, Watson chipped in with four points and one blocked shot, and Kolsen Keathley four points and four rebounds.

Jase Babcock added four points and two assists in the win, while Hobday had four points and three steals, Peter Jones recorded seven boards and three steals, and Korey Miller dished out five assists and had three steals.

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December 29, 2021 Tim Birney

WAVERLY - Junior Karlee Bartlow and sophomore Mya Thompson sent short-handed Athens off to a fast start on its way to a 50-14 win over Sayre here Wednesday evening in the consolation game of the girls Valley Christmas Basketball Tournament.

"The kids stepped up and played well," said Athens coach Brian Miller. "Missing two starters, we had to play different positions on offense and defense, but the girls adjusted quite well.

"Mya Thompson played a well-rounded game, and Karlee Bartlow did a great job finishing at the basket," added Miller.

The Lady Redskins, who did not field a team in 2020 due to a lack of numbers, are 0-3, with two of those losses to Athens and the other to Towanda - the preseason favorites to battle for the NTL Large School title this year.

Longtime Sayre coach Eileen Sparduti is of the opinion "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger."

"We made it," she said. "We survived maybe the toughest season opening we could have ever had.
"We were able to  work on our half-court defense tonight, which really improved," noted Sparduti. "That's not reflected in the score because many of their points were scored off our ball-handling errors. 

"Offensively, we are still adjusting to the speed and pressure of varsity play and are still too hesitant about attacking, but that will come.

"Next week, we will see what we benefited from in these "˜trials by fire,'" added Sparduti. "It certainly did not consume us."

Karlee Bartlow netted 10 points and Thompson added six to fuel an 18-4 run in the first eight minutes for the Lady Wildcats, who were playing without seniors Caydence Macik and Olivia Bartlow.

Six different Lady Wildcats put their names in the scoring column in the second quarter, led by four points apiece from Bartlow and freshman Addy Wheeler, in a 16-6 run that extended the lead to 34-10.

Bartlow led Athens with 21 points, seven steals, and three assists, while Wheeler had 10 points, three rebounds, six steals, and one blocked shot, and Thompson had eight points, four rebounds, and six steals.

Junior Emma Bronson added five points and three rebounds for the Lady Wildcats, and freshman Ravyn Glisson chipped in with four points and four boards.

Gabby Shaw had four points and five rebounds, and Jazz DeKay had four points and three boards to lead Sayre, while Liz Shaw had five rebounds and three steals, and Kendra Merrill added four boards and three assists.

Athens, now 4-2, is scheduled to open the New Year at Towanda Jan. 5, while Sayre (0-3) is slated to host North Penn-Mansfield Jan. 3.

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December 28, 2021 Tim Birney

WAVERLY— Athens used a 10-0 run that bridged the final two quarters to take the lead, then held off Waverly down the stretch for a 61-53 win here Tuesday night in the opening round of the annual boys Valley Christmas Basketball Tournament.

"It was an unbelievable game— both ways, these kids just battled," said Athens coach Jim Lister. "They've known each other forever,  and I knew it was going to be a war tonight.

"Coach Judson is such a good basketball coach, I knew he's had his kids ready to go, and we would have to play great basketball to win this game.

"Our first goal for this season was to win the Christmas Tournament, so this puts us in position to do that Thursday night," added Lister.

"I'm proud of the guys," said Waverly coach Lou Judson. "You look at a team like (Athens) and the size they have, and the talent they have, you would think that they should be able to handle us.

"These guys fought all the way to the end, and we had opportunities to win that basketball game several times tonight," noted Judson. "But, at key moments of the game, we did not do the things basketball teams need to do to win games; that's the bottom line.

"We had too many wasted possessions," added Judson.

Despite the miscues, Judson was pleased with his team's performance.

"Elite teams find ways to win that basketball game "¦ we committed too many costly turnovers and were sloppy with the ball, maybe trying to do a little too much, but give credit to their defense," he said. "Athens is long and athletic, and they force you a long way away from the basket.

"We executed what we wanted to do tonight, but what are you going to do?" added Judson. "(Athens) is a good basketball team."

Waverly came out of the gate hot, with sophomore Joey Tomasso and senior Brennan Traub knocking down 3-pointers to give the Wolverines a 6-1 lead, which it stretched to 12-5 with 2:44 remaining in the first quarter.

The Wildcats closed the opening stanza with a 10-5 spurt, fueled by a 3-pointer and a driving lay-up by junior Mason Lister, to trim the deficit to 16-15.

Tomasso opened the second quarter with a deep 3-pointer to make it 19-15, but Lister buried a 3-pointer from the corner to trigger a 9-0 run that put Athens up 24-19 with 5:47 remaining in the first half.

Brennan Traub answered with five points— the first bucket off a nifty feed from Tomasso, and the second a deep 3-pointer— to tie the game at 24-24 midway through the second quarter.

Lister connected for a pair of buckets, sandwiched around a pair of free throws by junior Chris Mitchell, to give the Wildcats a 30-24 lead with 2:01 remaining in the first half.

Waverly closed the gap to 30-28, but Mitchell made a free throw, and scored on a lay-up off a bullet pass into the low block from senior J.J. Babcock with 34 seconds left in the half to put the Wildcats up 33-28 at the intermission.

Lister scored 18 of his team-high 21 points in the first half, and also had nine rebounds, while Mitchell scored all five of his points in the second quarter.

"(Mason) was focused tonight, I'm super-proud of him," said coach Lister. "He was shooting well, pounding the boards, and looking down the court "¦ I was just thrilled with his game tonight, it was just terrific.

"And what about Chris Mitchell," added Lister. "He's working hard every day in practice "¦ he's putting in the time, and it paid off tonight. I'm just thrilled with his game tonight."

Athens stretched its lead to seven points, at 35-28, on a bucket by Babcock in the opening moments of the third quarter, but a 3-pointer and a bucket in transition by Brennan Traub trimmed the gap to 35-33 with 6:09 remaining in the third quarter.

Senior Tucker Brown answered with a 3-pointer, and Babcock added a free throw with 4:15 remaining to make it 39-33, but senior Brady Blauvelt canned a trey, and Brennan Traub converted a steal into a lay-up to close the gap to 39-38 with 3:36 left in the third.

After a free throw by Lister, Tomasso scored on a driving lay-up to tie the game, and Brennan Traub buried another 3-pointer to give Waverly a 43-40 lead with 41 seconds remaining. Moments later, Brown made a pair of free throws to trim the lead to 43-42 entering the final eight minutes.

Brown turned a steal into a lay-up just 25 seconds into the fourth quarter to give Athens the lead for good at 44-43, then Lister, Babcock, and freshman Kolsen Keathley, off a beautiful bounce pass to the low blocks from Lister, added buckets to make it 50-43 with 4:04 remaining in the game.

Tomasso drained a runner and a 3-pointer, sandwiched around a pair of free throws by Athens senior Nalen Carling, to close the gap to 52-48 with 2:58 remaining.

After Athens missed the front end of a one-and-one, Brennan Traub scored on a short jumper to cut the deficit to 52-50 with 1:42 left in the contest, but the Wildcats closed the game with a 9-3 spurt.

After a bucket by senior Troy Pritchard in the low post made it 54-50, Babcock hauled down a defensive rebound and fired a full-court outlet pass to Brown for a lay-up with 48 seconds remaining to make it 56-50.

Brennan Traub kept Waverly's hopes alive with his fifth 3-pointer of the game with 26 seconds remaining, but Babcock made 3 of 4 free throws, and Carling was 2 of 2 in the final 16.6 seconds to seal the win.

The Wildcats finished the game with 11 assists in 20 total field goals.

"We passed the ball very well," said Lister. "It's something we've been working on since we started in November "¦ our half-court offense.

"We struggled with that last year," he noted. "We put a lot of offenses in this year, and we've spent a lot of time in practice working on it, and I think it's starting to pay off.

"Transition has been our game," Lister added. "We have no problem running up and down the court, we'll run up and down the court with anybody, but now we have both, and it's working."

Brown had 14 points, six steals, and four assists for the Wildcats, while Babcock added 12 points and nine rebounds, Carling chipped in with five points and three steals, and Pritchard grabbed three rebounds.

Brennan Traub led Waverly with 23 points, three rebounds, and two steals, while Tomasso added 20 points, including a trio of 3-pointers, and six rebounds

"Those two have predominantly been our scoring this year," said Judson. "I thought they both played well.

"We just need more scoring out of a third guy— consistently, which I think is going to come," he added.

Liam Traub chipped in with four points and one blocked shot, and senior Davis Croft recorded seven rebounds, three assists, and two blocked shots for the Wolverines, while Blauvelt had three rebounds and two steals, and junior Nate DeLill grabbed three boards.

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December 28, 2021 Tim Birney

WAVERLY — Waverly used a 19-1 first-half run to take control on its way to a 59-23 win over Athens here Tuesday night in the opening round of the annual girls Valley Christmas Basketball Tournament.

"We played pretty good — solid defense, high energy, and we executed offensively," said Waverly coach Bob Kelly. "We could finish a lot better, but the execution was there.

"Sometimes when the ball's not going in, there's one thing you can always do, and that's play defense — and we played pretty solid defense," noted Kelly. "When the girls are all firing on the same cylinder it's a good thing. We've been working on it, we continue to work on it, and they get better with it.

"They seem to be getting comfortable with it, and I like what I see," he added.

The Lady Wildcats were playing without their leading scorer, senior Caydence Macik, who recently netted her 1,000th career point.

"Caydence (Macik) is the centerpiece of our team," said Athens coach Brian Miller. "She's a 1,000-point scorer and has almost 600 rebounds.

"The thing people don't realize is she breaks the press for us a lot," noted Miller. "She flashes to the middle, handles the ball, and gets the ball to the right girl in the right area, so we can get into our offense. Not having her, we had girls in different spots they weren't use to.

"Unfortunately, we played a team that's known for pressing and trapping, and making you feel uncomfortable," added Miller. "At times we looked OK, but most of the time we looked a little nervous and uncomfortable ... we weren't moving to the ball, or making good passes, but that's Waverly's style and it hurt us tonight."

Junior Karlee Barlow scored back-to-back buckets to give the Lady Wildcats a 7-4 lead with 1:59 remaining in the first quarter, but they wouldn't score again for nearly 7 1/2 minutes, and would only score three points the remainder of the first half.

Sophomore Peyton Shaw scored on a putback on the offensive glass with 1:52 remaining to pull Waverly within one point, at 9-8 and junior Kennedy Westbrook canned a 3-pointer with 1:10 remaining to give the Lady Wolverines the lead for good, 11-9.

Kennedy Westbrook knocked down a 15-foot jumper with 33 seconds remaining to give Waverly a 13-9 lead after the first eight minutes.

Kennedy Westbrook also scored on a driving lay-up and a pair of free throws early in the second quarter to up the lead to 17-9.

Shaw canned a 3-pointer, and Kennedy Westbrook capped the 16-0 run with a fast-break lay-up to make it 20-7 with 3:51 left in the first half.

Junior Natalee Watson's free throw snapped Athens' scoreless drought, but sophomore Paige Robinson knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 23-7 with 2:22 left in the first half.

Freshman Addy Wheeler scored on a runner with 1:45 left in the half for the Lady Wildcats' first field goal in more than eight minutes.

Kennedy Westbrook gave Waverly a 24-10 lead at the half with a free throw with 32 seconds remaining.

Waverly freshman Addison Westbrook and Athens junior Emma Bronson traded buckets early in the third quarter, but Waverly scored the next 15 points in a run ignited by consecutive 3-pointers by Kennedy Westbrook, senior Olivia NIttinger, and Addison Westbrook.

Karlee Bartlow scored five points in the final 89 seconds of the quarter, but the Lady Wildcats trailed 41-17 entering the final eight minutes.

Addison Westbrook scored nine points in the fourth quarter, and Kennedy Westbrook added five — both hit 3-pointers — as Waverly closed the game with an 18-6 run.

Kennedy Westbrook led all scorers with 20 points, including a trio of 3-pointers, while Addison Westbrook added 16 points and two 3-pointers, Nittinger scored 13 points, and Shaw chipped in with five points.

Karlee Bartlow led Athens with nine points and five rebounds, while Wheeler had five points, five rebounds, and two steals, sophomore Mya Thompson added four points and eight boards, Bronson had four rebounds, and one blocked shot, and Watson had two boards and two blocked shots.

Waverly, now 4-2, will take on Towanda Thursday at 6 p.m. at Sayre High School in the championship game, while Athens (3-2) squares off with Sayre (0-2) Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the consolation game at Waverly High School.

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December 23, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS - Athens senior Caydence Macik scored her 1,000th career point late in the second quarter Thursday night in Athens' 50-21 win over Sayre.

Macik became the ninth player in program history to reach the 1,000-point plateau, following in the footsteps of Jennifer Nichols (1,528 points), Maryellen Onofre (1.512), Emily Lunger (1,270), Taylor Clark (1,256), Kayleigh Miller (1,187) Janet Gabriel (1,185), Michelle Shaffer (1,143), and Kelly McCarty (1,022).

"It is quite an accomplishment," said Athens coach Brian Miller.

"Caydence has come a long ways since her freshman year when she scored in transition and scored on putbacks," noted Miller. :Now, she's more of a complete player - she can score from the perimeter, and she can play with her back to the basket.

Macik is the fifth 1,000-point scorer to play under Miller - Katie Histed, Rachel Shepard, and Kelly Thomas at Waverly, and his daughter Kayleigh Miller last year at Athens.

"It's a proud accomplishment as a coach," he said.

"She a nice kid, and a really good basketball player," added Miller.

Macik, who only played in the first half, grabbed four rebounds, and is closing in on 600 for her career.

"She plays both ends," said Miller. "Because she's one of our taller girls, she's played inside the majority of the time over the last four years.

"Kudos to her for hitting the boards on the defensive and offensive end," added Miller.

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December 23, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS - Athens raced out to a 39-4 halftime lead, and cruised to a 50-21 win over Sayre, which was playing its first varsity game in nearly two years, here Thursday night in NTL girls basketball action.

"We played well in the first half," said Athens coach Brian Miller. "We executed our offense, and we scored in transition; we like to score in transition, so it was nice to get that going."

Miller played his reserves for the entire second half.

"Sayre is down a little bit, and haven't played in a couple of years," he said. "It gave us the opportunity to give some girls major minutes at the varsity level, and to work on some things they need to get better at.

"It was nice to get everyone in the game - and to get all 11 girls major playing time," added Miller.

For Sayre coach Eileen Sparduti, it was her time on the sidelines for a varsity game (she coached the Sayre junior high team last year) since Feb. 10, 2020. For many of her girls, it was their first varsity game.

"Not only was there a skill and experience mismatch, but the environment - the crowded gym - played a part," she said.

"Young inexperienced teams need to learn to turn that noise off and focus inside the lines," noted Sparduti. "They let the moment own them early, but kept battling against Brian(Miller's) reserves with some confidence-building results.

"I appreciate the coaching courtesy Coach Miller extended to us," she added. "We were able to leave with some positives and that will  just make the league stronger down the road. We need to keep our programs viable."

The Lady Wildcats blew the game open quickly, and led wire-to-wire.

Macik scored 10 points in the first quarter, while junior Karlee Bartlow drained a 3-pointer and scored five points, senior Olivia Bartlow added four points, and freshman Addy Wheeler canned a 3-pointer in a 28-0 blitz in the first eight minutes.

Macik scored seven points points in the second quarter, including her 1,000th career point (see related story), in an 11-4 spurt as Athens stretched its lead to 39-4 at the intermission.

Jazz DeKay, who scored both of Sayre's buckets in the second quarter, added another bucket in the third quarter, while Liz Shaw, Kendra Merrill, and Gabby Shaw also scored two points apiece as the Redskins outscored Athens, 8-6.

Liz Shaw scored four points in the fourth quarter as Sayre closed the game with a 9-5 spurt.

Macik led Athens with 17 points, four rebounds, and one blocked shot, while Karlee Bartlow had five points, Olivia Bartlow added four points and three boards, and freshman Sara Bronson grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out three assists.

Wheeler had four assists and three steals in the win, while sophomore Mya Thompson grabbed five rebounds and recorded three steals, freshman Ella Coyle doled out three assists, and Izzy Davis hauled down four boards.

Liz Shaw led Sayre with six points and two steals, while Jazz DeKay scored six points, Gabby Shaw added four points, and Kendra Merrill had five assists, two rebounds, and two steals.

Athens, now 3-1, returns to action Tuesday at Waverly in the opening round of the Valley Christmas Tournament, while Sayre (0-1) hosts Towanda in the other opening-round game.

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December 23, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS - Athens scored 15 points in a row in a run that bridged the halftime intermission to blow open a close game on its way to a 67-28 win over Sayre here Thursday night in NTL boys basketball action.

The Wildcats led 19-16 with 2 minutes remaining in the second quarter, but closed out the first half with a 6-0 spurt to take a 25-16 lead at the half.

Athens opened the second with a 9-0 run to extend its lead to 34-16, and ended up outscoring the Redskins 42-12 in the second half.

"I think (Sayre's) game plan was to slow everything down," said Athens coach Jim Lister. "They wanted to slow the game down, and I think they did that in the first half, and that was good coaching on Coach (Devin) Shaw's part.

"We made some halftime adjustments, and came out in half-court press, and made them push the ball. We need to pick up the pace of the game," added Lister. "We forced a bunch of turnovers, got a bunch of lay-ups, and ran way with it."

"Credit to Athens, they are a good basketball team and they play well together," said Sayre coach Devin Shaw.

"We did a good job in the first half against their 3-2 zone," he noted. "We took care of the ball and got some good shots. Defensively in first half, we slowed them down a little and they didn't get the easy buckets that they did in the second half.

"In the second half, we came out flat and turned the ball over which lead to easy points and kind of put our heads down," added Shaw. "We need to be stronger with the ball and stay positive. I need to do a better job coaching that in practice."

Both team spread the ball around in the first quarter, and Athens led 13-10 after the first eight minutes.

Senior J.J. Babcock scored a pair of buckets in the opening 90 seconds of the second quarter to give the Wildcats a 17-10 lead, but junior Jackson Hubbard's old-fashioned three-point play trimmed the deficit to 17-13.

After a bucket by Lister, Sayre senior Josh Arnold canned a 3-pointer with 2:15 remaining in the second quarter to pull the Redskins with three points, at 19-16. Sayre wouldn't score again for more than four minutes.

Seniors Troy Pritchard, and Nalen Carling and Babcock closed out the second quarter with buckets to give the Wildcats a 25-16 lead at the half.

Senior Tucker Brown buried a 3-pointer on Athens' first possession of the second half, Brown and Carling turned Sayre miscues into lay-up in the next 35 seconds to extend the Athens lead to 32-16.

Babcock capped the 15-0 run with a steal and uncontested lay-up to make it 34-16 with 6:30 remaining in the third quarter.

Senior Cayden Firestine ended Sayre drought with a pair of free throws, but Athens scored the next 11 points to take a 45-18 lead with 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Senior Dom Fabbri's 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining left the Redskins trailing 45-21 entering the final eight minutes.

Junior Carson Smith knocked down a pair of 3-pointers, and senior Ryan Thompson added five points to fuel a 22-7 game-closing run for the Wildcats.

Babcock led Athens with 19 points, six rebound, six assists, and seven steals, while Brown scored 13 points, Carling had 10 points, four rebounds, and three assists, and Lister added six points, four rebounds, five assists, and three steals.

Smith scored six points in the win, while Pritchard had four points and five boards, and Thompson had five points and four rebounds.

Jackson led Sayre with 11 points, Fabbri added eight, and Firestine chipped in with four.

Athens, now 4-1, returns to action Tuesday at Waverly in the opening round of the Valley Christmas Tournament, while Sayre (2-2) hosts Towanda in the other opening-round game.

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December 23, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens used balanced scoring, and an 11-0 second-quarter run to pull away from Sayre for a 41-15 win here Thursday evening in NTL junior varsity boys basketball action.

Xavier Watson knocked down a 3-pointer and scored five points to help Athens to a 9-6 lead after the first eight minutes.

Five different Wildcats scored in the second quarter in an 11-0 blitz that pushed the lead to 20-6 at the half.

Nicholas Jacob drained a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter, and Connor Mosher added a rely to fuel a 15-4 run that gave the Wildcats a 35-10 lead entering the final eight minutes.

Watson led Athens with nine points, seven rebounds, and three blocked shots, and Mosher and Jacob scored seven and six points, respectively, and Chris Mitchell had five points and three boards.

Korey Miller had four, three rebounds, three assists, and five steals in the win, while Kolsen Keathley had four points, four rebounds, three steals, and one blocked shot, Jase Babcock chipped in with four points, Peter Jones recorded five steals, and Noah Hobday chipped in with three steals.

Zack Senese led Sayre with seven points, and Wesley Kelsey added five.

Athens travels to Waverly Tuesday afternoon for the opening round of the annual Valley Christmas Tournament, while Sayre hosts Towanda.

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December 22, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Despite the absence of three starters, Athens finished third at the Wildcat Duals here Wednesday afternoon.

"It is what it is," said Athens coach Shawn Bradley. "Jake (Courtney) is still banged up, and Mason (Vanderpool) is sick ... the kids wrestled well.

"We had some kids step up, kids maybe we weren't expecting to," he noted. "(Freshman) Keaton (Sinsabaugh) in the Williamson match - that's a big win, (Chelsea Hungerford) is pretty good. He wrestled his butt off, hit some nice techniques, and did a nice job.

"And another freshman, Caleb Nason, is wrestling a kid (Mikey Sipps), who is probably Top 10 in the state," continued Bradley. "It was a 2-point match after the first period ... he did great.

"It always stinks to lose, but we wrestled better today than we did yesterday," added Bradley. "It's a good way to end the first half of the season. Now, we take a little break, and come back for a really difficult second half."

Athens was also without its 132-pounder, who recently left the team.

The Wildcats opened the day with a 58-6 win over Wellsboro, which doubled as the NTL dual for the two league rivals, then dropped a 39-36 decision to Scranton in the semifinals.

Athens topped Williamson, 35-31, in the third-place match, while Scranton dropped a 39-30 decision to Western Wayne in the championship match.

ATHENS 60, Wellsboro 6

The Wildcats registered 10 falls, including six first-period pins, in a 60-6 win over Wellsboro in the opening round of the Wildcat duals.

Senior Kaden Setzer had the quickest fall of the day, just 13 seconds at 138 pounds, while senior Karter Rude needed just 23 seconds in his 160-pound bout..

Senior Gavin Bradley (43 seconds at 126), sophomore Josh Nittinger (49 seconds at 285), and senior Lucas Forbes (53 seconds at 152) all needed less than one minute to put six points on the board. Senior Gavin McGrath had the sixth first-period pin, scoring the fall in 1:21 at 145 pounds.

Freshman Keaton Sinsabaugh decked Alex Magil in 2:53 at 113 pounds for his first varsity victory, while seniors Cameron Whitmarsh (172), and Collin Rosh (189), and freshman Caleb Nason (215) also recorded pins.


Athens won five of the nine contested weight classes, but Scranton capitalized on a 12-point advantage in forfeits to pull out a 39-36 decision over Athens in the semifinals.

Following an Athens forfeit at 132, Setzer decked Scranton's Yovan Aroche in 1:45 at 138 pounds to tie the match at 6-6.

Following a Scranton fall at 145, Forbes and Rude scored first-period pins to give the Wildcats an 18-12 lead.

A Scranton pin at 172 tied the match, but a forfeit to Rosh at 189, and a pin by Nason at 215 put the Wildcats up 30-18, but Scranton heavyweight Jason James forged a 12-6 decision at 285 pounds to stop the Athens run.

An Athens forfeit at 106, and a pin at 113 gave the Knights a brief 33-30 lead, that Bradley quickly erased with a 23-second pin to put the Wildcats on top 36-33.

However, Scranton picked up a forfeit at 126 to close out thematic and earn the win.

Third-Place Match
Athens 35, Williamson 31

Sinsabaugh scored a third-period fall to effectively clinch a 35-31 win over Williamson in the third-place match.
With Athens trailing 25-23, Sinsabaugh built a lead against Chelsea Hungerford in their 113-pound bout, then turned her to her back with just 48 seconds remaining in the third period for the fall to put the Wildcats ahead, 29-25.

Bradley received a forfeit at 120, and Athens issued six free points at 126 to provide the final matching.

Setzer opened the match with a 16-1 technical fall of Ayden Sprague, scoring the bout-ending takedown with just 1 second remaining in the third period.

Williamson answered with a fall at 145 to take a 6-5 lead, but Forbes decked Skyler Hughes in 3:00 at 152, and Rude received a forfeit at 160 to five Athens a 17-6 lead.

Joe Hultz put the Warriors on the board again with a hard-fought, 7-4, decision over Whitmarsh to trim the deficit to 17-9.

Rosh won a physical battle with Tim Freeman at 189 pounds, turning the Williamson freshman to his back at 5:47 for the fall, and a 23-9 Athens lead.

Williamson's big boys Mikey Sipps and Kade Sottolano put 10 points on the board for the Warriors.

Sipps forged a 16-2 manor decision over Nason, but Bradley was impressed with his freshman's efforts.

Sottolano followed with a 69-second pin of Nittinger to trim the deficit to 23-19, and Williamson took a forfeit at 106 to take a 25-23 lead, and set up Sinsabaugh's heroics.


Athens 60, Wellsboro 6
106: No Match;
113: Keaton Sinsabaugh (A) by fall over Alec Magil (W), 2:53;

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December 21, 2021 Chris Manning

ATHENS — It wasn't the prettiest win, but Athens used five first-period falls, and two close decisions to pull out a 36-33 victory over Troy in NTL wrestling action here Tuesday.

"We knew coming in it was going to be close," Athens coach Shawn Bradley said. "And Troy's wrestled well in the couple dual meets they've wrestled, but we didn't wrestle well.

"I mean, I can honestly say that, a lot of those matches we were out-conditioned, which is terrible to say, but it's true," noted Bradley. "I've got to give (Troy coach) Brandon (Spiak) credit, his guys came to wrestle, and they came after it and pulled out a couple close ones."

Neither team had their full line-up, with Athens giving up three forfeits on the day, while Troy had to bump guys around to fill their line-up.

"They were without one of their studs, and we were without one of ours, so, hopefully, that's a wash there," remarked Bradley. "But, again, we left some points on the board, that we should have scored, but hats off to them."

Gavin Bradley (126), Kaden Setzer (138), Lucas Forbes (152), Karter Rude (160), and Josh Nittinger (285) all had falls for Athens, while Jacob Courtney (145) and Cameron Whitmarsh (172) earned two decisions.

"Lucas Forbes, that's a big win, he stepped up," said Bradley. "And Cameron Whitmarsh, he hadn't wrestled for a couple years, he stepped up. So those are big wins, you don't get those, you lose the match."

Courtney's victory decided the match, though it was just the fourth bout. He built a 7-4 lead through the middle of the second period, but it was Troy's Jacob Hinman who scored six straight points to go up 10-7 into the third.

In the final period, Courtney caught Hinman in a cradle, and once again used a five-point swing to go up 12-10, then hung on for the 14-11 win.

Despite pulling out the match, Bradley felt Courtney should have ended it in the first period when he had Hinman cradled up the first time, and nearly pinned him.

"If he's going to wrestle heavier kids, he can't mess around," Bradley said. "That kid is strong, he's a good athlete, and a good wrestler. He's got to score points. So he got that kid on his back, and should have had the pin in the first period."

Athens won six of the first seven bouts to go up 30-6, beginning with Gavin Bradley (126) pinning Kenyon Slater in 34 seconds.

Troy tied it up at 6-6 off a Seth Seymour (132) forfeit.

The Wildcats then rattled off five straight wins, beginning with Kaden Setzer (138) getting a 40-second pin over Peyton Bellows at 138.

Then came the Jacob Courtney (145) over Jacob Hinman match to push Athens' lead to 15-6.

Lucas Forbes (152) scored a fall over Eli Randall in 1:33, followed by Karter Rude (160) getting a fall in 1:25 over Rylan Breidt to push the lead to 27-6.

At 172, Cameron Whitmarsh was able to get four takedowns on William Steele for the 9-3 win to extend the lead to 30-6.

Troy's Josh Isbell was able to stop the run with a 9-7 decision over Colin Rosh, holding off a Rosh shot late to secure the win.

Then at 215, Trojan Mason Woodward got a fall over Caleb Nason in 4:15 to cut it to 30-15.

Athens would seal the victory at 285 with Josh Nittinger's fall over Daniel Samuels in 20 seconds.

Troy won the final three bouts: Kannon Renzo (106) by forfeit, Konner Kerr (113) with a 48 second fall over Keaton Sinsabaugh, and Caleb Schwenk (120) with a forfeit.

There is no rest for Athens as they have three more matches on Wednesday when they host the Athens Duals, then get a short break before things heat up in January.

"It's a good starting point, Troy's a good team, but if were going to stay in the match against teams like Canton, though, we're going to have to wrestle a lot better than that," said Bradley.


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December 21, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Juniors Taegan Williams and Taylar Fisher led the Lady Wildcats to a 91-90 win over Elk Lake, while junior Ethan Denlinger paced the Athens boys to a 104-50 victory here Tuesday afternoon in non-league swimming action.


Williams and Fisher each won four events while senior Brooke Kopatz was a triple-winner to lead the Lady Wildcats in their first dial of the season.

Williams won the 100-yard butterfly in a time of 1:09.96, and sophomore Emily Marshall was second in 1:23.04. Williams also won the 200-yard freestyle in a time of 2:10.53.

Fisher won the 200-yard IM in a time of 2:35.47, and Kopatz was third in 2:43.74.

Fisher also won the 100-yard backstroke in a time of 1:12.9, and Marshall was third in 1:19.06.

Williams, Fisher, Kopatz, and Marshall teamed to win the 200-yard medley relay in a time of 2:08.23.

Williams, Fisher, and Kopatz teamed with junior Alli Thoman to win the 200-yard freestyle relay in a time of 1:55.79.

Kopatz won the 100-yard breaststroke in a tim e of 1:16.89, and Thoman was second in 1:24.17.

Freshman Abbie Panek was second in the 1-meter diving competition with 176.5 points.

Sophomore Grace Cobb was second in the 500-yard freestyle in a time of 6:45.38.

Thoman finished third in the 50-yard freestyle in a time of 30.63 seconds, and senior Hannah Walker was third in the 100-yard freestyle in 1:17.49.


Denlinger was a quad-winner, while freshman Ethan Hicks was a triple-winner, and freshmen Ryan Gorman and Ronel Ankam, and junior Chris DeForest each won two events in the Wildcats' 54-point win.

Denlinger won the 200-yard IM in a time of 2:28.43, and Gorman was second in 2:51.07.

Denlinger also won the 500-yard freestyle in a time of 5:48.12, and junior Joe Blood was third in 6:55.46.

Denlinger, Ankam, Gorman, and Hicks teamed to win the 200-yard medley relay in a time of 2:03.45.

Denlinger, Ankam, Hicks, and DeForest to win the 400-yard freestyle relay in a time of 3:50.37.

Gorman won the 100-yard breaststroke in a time of 1:25.95, and junior Travis Webster was third in 1:30.54.

Hicks won the 100-yard backstroke in a time of 1:07.95, and freshman Pierce Oldroyd was third in 2:20.59.

DeForest won the 100-yard butterfly in a time of 1:00.11, and freshman Treyvon Simpson won the 1-meter diving competition.

Blood finished second in the 200-yard freestyle in a time of 2:30.48, and senior Shayne Reid was third in 2:35.23.

DeForest finished second in the 50-yard freestyle in 23.35 seconds, and senior Kyle Anthony was third in 26.12 seconds.

Ankem was second in the 100-yard freestyle in a district-qualifying time of 57.73 seconds, and Reuven Gifeisman was third in 1:04.23.

The Wildcats are now off until after the New Year.

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December 20, 2021 Chris Manning

ROME — For a little bit in the fourth quarter, it was looking like shades of NEB's recent loss to Towanda on Friday. The Panthers had seen a big lead dwindle down to a 1-point deficit, but this time they performed in the clutch, scoring seven straight points to pull out the 52-46 win in NTL girls' basketball action Monday."

"There was more than a little shades," said NEB coach Ben Beebe. "There was way too many coincidence there that we didn't like, but the girls held on, and came through, and still continued to play hard. We've been trying to work on that constantly. That's a huge deal for us, trying to close out games, and we're starting, so, hopefully, the next couple of games, we'll have that mastered."

Maisie Neuber finished with 25 points, six boards, and four steals for NEB, while Alena Beebe had a strong game, scoring 17 points on 5-for-12 from 3-point range.

"She shot really well today, which really helps," Beebe said about Alena's performance. "She's a really good shooter, And, you can have her and Maisie at the same time on fire, it's hard for an opponent.""¨
Kayleigh Thoman returned from injury to chip in with six points, while Julia Brown added three points, and 10 boards. Kate O'Connor had one point with a team-high 11 boards.

It was another slow start for Athens, but coach Brian Miller liked the fight he saw in his team."¨
"˜It's tough to come back, but I give the girls credit, they fought," he said. "They played good enough defense to keep it close, we actually took a lead at 46-45, I believe. And then (Julia Brown), she made a nice three-pointer in the corner. And then we just didn't execute on the offensive end down the stretch, but kudos to them.

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December 18, 2021 Tim Birney

CANTON — Athens built an eight-point cushion at the half, then limited Canton to just 13 points in the second half on its way to a convincing, 66-46, win here Saturday night in a key early-season NTL boys basketball match-up.

"I am very pleased with the entire team's effort - everyone contributed," said Athens coach Jim Lister.  "Our bench was outstanding.

"Defensively, I thought we played very well, especially in the second half," noted Lister."Tucker Brown's quick hands created a lot of deflection and turnovers.

"We need to continue to do that to be successful," added Lister.

Senior Nalen Carling scored 15 points and grabbed three boards, and junior Mason Lister had 15 points and three assists to lead the Wildcats.

Senior Troy Pritchard scored 11 points in the win, while senior J.J. Babcock had eight points, nine assists, and three blocked shots, senior Tucker Brown added eight points, and junior Chris Mitchell chipped in with five points.

"Offensively, everyone contributed, which is what we want," said Lister.

"The birthday boy Nalen Carling was terrific," noted Lister. "Troy (Pritchard's) posts moves underneath were just fun to watch.

"Mason Lister is getting smoother and more comfortable by the game and J.J. is becoming the complete player," added Lister.

The Wildcats jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead on a bucket Pritchard, a conventional three-point play by Carling, and a bucket by Lister, off a feed from Babcock, but Canton answered with seven straight points to tie the game.

Brown put Athens back in front with an old-fashioned three-point play, and Lister made the Warriors pay for a turnover with a 3-point bomb to give Athens a 13-7 lead.

Carling turned another Canton turnover into a lay-up yo give the Wildcats an eight-point lead, at 15-7 with 1:45 left in the first quarter.

Canton closed the gap to two points, at 18-16, but Mitchell knocked down a pair of free throws in the closing moments of the opening stanza to give the Wildcats a 20-16 lead.

Babcock scored a pair of buckets to start the second quarter, pushing the Athens lead to 24-16, but Canton answered with seven straight points to close the gap to one, at 24-23.

The game of runs continued as the Wildcats scored eight straight points to take its biggest lead to that point, at 32-23. Pritchard scored five of the eight points.

After a bucket by Canton stopped the run, Lister canned a 3-pointer to give Athens a 35-25 lead with 2:50 remaining in the half.

The Athens lead ranged from six to 10 points until midway through the third quarter, when a 12-2 spurt that bridged the final two quarter extended the Wildcat lead to 56-37 with 7:09 remaining in the game.

Carling sparked the run with a break-away lay-up, and Brown's three-point play made it 49-37. Mitchell's bucket, off a feed from freshman Kolsen Keathley, gave the Wildcats a 51-37 lead entering the final eight minutes.

Lister opened the fourth quarter with a steal and a lay-up, then capped the run with an old-fashioned three-point play to make it 56-37.

The Warriors closed the gap to 15, at 56-41, midway through the final stanza, but never got any closer as buckets by Babcock, Brown, and Pritchard gave the Wildcats a 21-point lead, at 64-43 with 56 seconds remaining in the contest.

Isaiah Niemczyk led Canton with 18 points "”16 of them in the first half, while Caiden Williams netted 10, and  Cooper Kitchen added nine.

Athens, now 3-1, hosts Sayre Thursday night.

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