By: Tim Birney | | January 9, 2021 | Photo courtesy David Alliger


TIOGA JUNCTION, Pa. — Athens took control from the outset with a 21-4 game-opening run en route to an 88-33 season-opening win over Williamson here Saturday afternoon in NTL Large School boys basketball action.

The win was the first for rookie Wildcat head coach Jim Lister.

“I was a little bit nervous starting off the day, even though I was telling everyone I wasn’t,” he laughed. “I just wanted to get this first one behind us.

“I was thrilled for the kids today. They’ve been put on pause too long,” Lister noted. “They were ready to go, and I was real happy for them.

“It was a good day overall, and it’s a good way to start the season,” added Lister.

Sophomore Mason Lister triggered the game-opening run with a 3-pointer just 20 seconds into the contest, and sophomore Carson Smith capped it with a 3-pointer with 1:20 remaining in the first quarter.

In between, J.J. Babcock scored eight points. He finished the scoring in the opening stanza to give the Wildcats a 23-8 lead.

Lister said his team accomplished what it set out to do.

“Everything we preached all week, the kids played out in the game plan today,” he said. “It worked out well.

“We’ve been preaching playing good defense and playing as a team. I thought we played really well today,” noted Lister. “The team defense was excellent, there were a lot of steals, a lot of turnovers, and a lot of lay-ups.”

The Wildcats, who scored the first five points in the contest and never trailed, recorded 25 assists to just 14 turnovers.

Lister and Babcock scored nine points apiece in the second quarter to fuel a 26-9 run that extended the Wildcat lead to 49-17 at the halftime intermission.

Lister went to his bench in the second half, and it responded.

Smith drained a trio of 3-pointers, junior Nalen Carling added eight points, and sophomore Chris Mitchell scored his first six varsity points as Athens outscored the Warriors, 39-16, over the final 16 minutes.

“Our guys of the bench played well,” said Lister. “They moved the ball well.

“In practice all week, those guys were playing against the starters, running a lot of the same plays — a lot of the same offenses,” noted Lister. “And, of course, when you’re playing against kids who are just as good as you are, if not better, it makes you better.

“They had their opportunity today and took advantage of it, which is great,” he added.

Babcock, who made 12 of 17 shots from the field, led the Wildcats with 25 points, to go along with four assists and three rebounds, and Lister pumped in 20 points, including four 3-pointers, and grabbed five boards.

Smith scored 12 points on four 3-pointers for the Wildcats, while junior Tucker Brown contributed nine points, six steals, four assists, and four rebounds, Carling had eight points and a team-high seven rebounds, and Mitchell chipped in with six points and four boards.

Junior Shayne Reid had four points, four assists, and six steals in the win, and junior Troy Pritchard had four points, six rebounds, and three assists.

Jacob Schmitt led Williamson with 11 points and Kristian Mizdail added eight.
Athens returns to action Monday at Mount Carmel.


About the Author

Tim Birney Author Bio
Tim Birney

Tim Birney is the founder / owner of River Road Media Group. He was born and raised in the Valley, graduating from Waverly High School in 1984.

Birney earned an Associate's Degree in Journalism from SUNY Morrisville in 1986 and a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism / Public Relations from Utica College of Syracuse University in 1988. He began his newspaper career at The Daily Review in Towanda in 1989, before moving on to The Evening Times in 1995. He spent more than 10 years at the Times, the last four as Managing Editor.

River Road Media Group includes five sites in "The Sports Reports" family that cover 24 school districts in five counties: Valley Sports Report (launched Aug. 10, 2009), Tioga County (NY) Sports Report (Aug. 13, 2018), and Northern Tier Sports Report (Aug. 31, 2020); Northern Tier West Sports Report (March 15, 2021) Southern Tier Sports Report (Aug. 16, 2021).