LEWISBURG EDGES ATHENS IN DEFENSIVE BATTLE IN CLASS 4A QUARTERFINALS

By: Tim Birney | AthensWildcats.com | February 24, 2022 | Photo courtesy David Alliger

 
 LEWISBURG EDGES ATHENS IN DEFENSIVE BATTLE IN CLASS 4A QUARTERFINALS
 

ATHENS — When two teams play good man-to-man defense, points can be hard to come by.

That proved to be the case Thursday night as sixth-seeded Lewisburg edged third-seeded Athens, 21-18, in the quarterfinals of the District 4, Class 4A girls basketball playoffs.

“We knew as a coaching staff that it was going to be a low-scoring game,” said Athens coach Brian Miller.

“Lewisburg plays very, very good half-court man-to-man defense, and they run their (offensive) man sets for a long time. They are very patient to get the best shot, and sometimes they shoot and miss and get the rebound, and you have to keep playing defense.

“We knew the number of shots we were going to get was going to be low, and the quality of shots we were going to get was going to be lower,” added Miller. “And, that did come to fruition.”

The Lady Wildcats only took 24 shots from the field, making seven for a 29-percent clip. Worse yet, they were just 1-for-3 from the free-throw line.

“If you told me we were going to hold them to 21 points, I’d take that every single night,” said Miller. “We didn’t execute offensively, .

“Caydence (Macik) didn’t shoot any foul shots. We tried to pound the ball into her because she was a mismatch to them,” added Miller. “Unfortunately for us, she didn’t get to the foul line at all.”

The game was a very physical affair with one Athens player sustaining a black eye, and another a bloody mouth.

“They let us play big-time,” said Miller. “The nature of the officiating tonight, letting them play, worked in their favor, not ours.

“We need to score points from the foul line,” noted Miller. “Unfortunately, we only shot three foul shots, and Caydence (Macik), our best interior player who usually gets to the foul line 5 to 10 times per game, didn’t shoot a free throw.”

Athens led 7-6 after the first eight minutes, and, thanks to a 3-pointer by Macik late in the second quarter, the two teams entered the halftime locker room tied at 12-12.

Kealey Baker scored on Lewisburg’s first possession of the second half to give the Lady Green Dragons a 14-12 lead with 6:44 remaining in the third quarter.

It took Athens nearly two more minutes to get on the board in the second half, but Macik and junior Emma Bronson scored in transition about 30 seconds apart to give the Lady Wildcats a15-14 lead with 4:15 left in the third quarter.

With 2:50 left in the third quarter, Sophie Kilbride canned a 3-pointer to give Lewisburg the lead for good, at 17-16.

Anna Baker added a pair of free throws in the final minute of the stanza to give the Green Dragons a 19-16 lead heading into the final eight minutes.

Junior Karlee Bartlow hit a driving baseline runner with 6:48 remaining in the game to trim the deficit to 19-18, but missed a free throw to complete the traditional three-point play.

Lewisburg took 2 1/2 minutes off the game clock in its next possession before Athens came up with a steal. However, the Lady Dragons returned the favor at half court to regain possession.

About 30 seconds later, Lewisburg miss the front end of a one-and-one. The Dragons would miss the front end of two more one-and-ones, and with 26 seconds remaining, Kealey Baker rebounded a miss and scored on a putback to make it 21-18.

Athens’ last-ditch effort to tie the game, a 3-pointer with 5 seconds remaining was blocked.

Macik, who ends her Athens career with 1,283 points — third all-time in program history — led the Lady Wildcats with nine points, three rebounds, and six steals, while Emma Bronson added four points, and Karlee Bartlow chipped in with three points, four rebounds, and two assists.

Senior Olivia Bartlow had five rebounds, three steals, and one blocked shot, and freshman Addy Wheeler chipped in with two rebounds, two steals, and two blocked shots.

The Lady Wildcats lose just two seniors from this season’s 17-7 team.

“Caydence had a tremendous career, and Olivia came back and had a nice season for us,” said Miller. “They will both be missed.”

Miller said losing his two best low-post players will result in a different-looking team in 2022-23.

“We’ll be smaller and faster next year year.,” he said. “Sara Bronson and Mya Thompson will get more playing time … Natalee Watson will step into the center position and get more playing time.

“We have girls like Ella Coyle who will see more time.

“We’ll kind of be like Lewisburg — small and fast, and have to pressure the basketball to create opportunities to score in transition,” added Miller.

 

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 Valley Sports Report (launched Aug. 10, 2009), Tioga County (NY) Sports Report (Aug. 13, 2018), and Northern Tier Sports Report (Aug. 31, 2020). Southern Tier Sports Report is set to launch in 2021.