By: Tim Birney | | February 16, 2022


TIOGA JUNCTION — Athens took command early, and cruised to a 67-42 win over Williamson here Wednesday night to clinch a berth in the NTL Boys Basketball Showdown.

The Wildcats, who finish the regular season at 16-6, travel to Wyalusing for a Showdown semi-final match-up Thursday, while Troy hosts Canton in the other semi-final game.

The game was also highlighted by another career milestone for Athens senior J.J. Babcock. After scoring his 1,000th point last week, Babcock hauled down his 500th career rebound Wednesday night.

Senior Troy Pritchard, and junior Mason Lister scored buckets in the opening minutes to give Athens a 4-0 lead, but the Warriors rallied to tie the game at 6-6.

Babcock knocked down a short jumper to make it 8-6 and the Wildcats never relinquished the lead.

Senior Nalen Carling turned a steal into a lay-up, then fed Babcock for a bucket to make it 12-6.

Babcock scored in transition to make it 15-8, then Lister drained a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 18-8 with 2 1/2 remaining in the first quarter.

Williamson trimmed the deficit to 18-10, but Athens answered with 10 straight points, including four by Babcock and four by senior Tucker Brown, to make it 28-10 with 15 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Williamson drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer, and outscored Athens, 11-10 , in the second quarter to close the gap to 38-24 at the half.

Any thoughts of a Williamson comeback were vanquished quickly as Athens started the second half with a 9-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Lister, to make it 47-24.

The Wildcats extended their lead to 63-35 in the closing seconds of the third quarter on a 3-pointer by sophomore Korey Miller, then took their biggest lead of the game, at 65-35, in the opening minute of the final stanza on a putback by freshman Kolsen Keathley.

Williamson closed the game with a 7-2 spurt.

Babcock led Athens with 19 points and five rebounds, while Brown scored nine points, and Carling had eight points, eight rebounds, and four steals.

Junior Chris Mitchell had eight points and seven boards for the Wildcats, while Lister added seven points, four rebounds, and six assists, Miller chipped in with six points on a pair of 3-pointers and three rebounds, Pritchard pulled down five rebounds, senior Ryan Thompson had four boards and two steals, and Keathley grabbed three boards and recorded two steals.


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).