February 19, 2022 Chris Manning

SAYRE — For two-and-a-half quarters, Athens was able to hang with Towanda, but a Black Knight run late in the third quarter, and early in the fourth, helped them edge the Wildcats, 43-37, for the NTL Showdown title Saturday.

“That was a nice thing we took that lead, but, again, Paige (Manchester) had some big threes in the second half, and then we had some mistakes in our half-court, where we turned it over, and they got transition baskets,” said Athens coach Brian Miller. “That’s the two things we were concentrating on — don’t let Paige beat us from the perimeter, and don’t let them get transition baskets, and that hurt us a little bit.”

Karlee Bartlow had 15 points to lead Athens, while Olivia Bartlow added 11 points and nine boards. Caydence Macik had six points to go with seven boards, and five assists, while Addy Wheeler added five points and six boards.

Manchester finished with 15 points for Towanda and Porschia Bennett added 14. Bella Hurley scored six, Gracie Schoonover netted four, Destiny Brennan notched three, with Eliza Fowler added one.

“We’ve gotten better,” Miller said. “They beat us by 30 at their place, they beat us by 11 at our place, and then we lost by six, and we were ahead in the third quarter, so I’m using it as motivation that we’re getting better.”

Athens came out and took a 4-0 lead on buckets from Olivia Bartlow and Wheeler. Hurley would answer with a 3-ball, then Manchester made a lay-up to give them their first lead.

Schoonover would make it 7-4 with a jumper, but a Karlee Bartlow lay-up cut it to 7-6. Manchester then found Bennett for a bucket to take a 9-6 lead at the first horn.

The lead would get as high as 14-7 early in the second on a Bennett 3-point play.

Athens, though, would get a lay-up from Olivia Bartlow, followed by a 3-ball from Wheeler, to cut it to 14-12.

Schoonover would get a lay-up to make it 16-12, but a 3-0 Athens spurt to end the half cut it to 16-15 at the break.

Bennett opened up the quarter with a lay-up, but Karlee Bartlow answered with a 3-ball to make it 18-18.

The two teams would trade baskets, with Athens getting a lead when Karlee Bartlow hit a jumper with 4:12 on the clock.

But that’s when Towanda made their move, beginning with a Manchester 3-ball. She then found Bennett on the run out, followed by another 3-ball from her to put the Knights up 28-22.

After a Macik free throw Brennan then hit a 3-pointer with under a minute left in the quarter to put them up by eight points. A Macik lay-up cut it to 31-25 with one quarter left.

Athens would cut it to a 4-point game on a Karlee Bartlow 3-ball, but Manchester followed with a 3-pointer of her own. Karlee Bartlow would get a lay-up, followed by Bennett going 1-of-2 from the line.

After two Athens misses at the charity stripe, Hurley hit her second 3-ball of the game to Towanda a 39-30 lead with just over four minutes to play.

Olivia Bartlow would get a putback, but Manchester got to the line at the other end to keep it at nine points.

An old-fashioned 3-point play from Olivia Bartlow cut it to 41-35 with 2:28 left to play, but that’s as close as it got.

Athens wouldn’t score again until there were 18.8 seconds left to play, and by that time Towanda had added two freebies to go up 43-35.

Karlee Bartlow’s final lay-up made it a 43-37 final.

The Wildcats will be hosting a district game next week, possibly Lewisburg, and they hope they can continue their strong play into the postseason.

“We’re going to use this to get ready for probably Lewisburg on Thursday night,” said Miller.

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February 19, 2022 Chris Manning

SAYRE — In a game no fan wanted to end, Athens and Troy needed extra time to decide who was going to walk out with the NTL Showdown Trophy. And, in the end, the Wildcats got a Nalen Carling free throw with 49.9 seconds remaining to take a 1-point lead, and made it stick defensively to beat the Trojans, 68-67, in boys’ basketball action Saturday.

“It feels awesome,” Athens coach Jim Lister remarked. “Honestly, it feels terrific.”

The stars certainly showed up, as Wildcat JJ Babcock finished with 29 points, eight of them coming in overtime, while Troy’s Ty Barrett lit up with 33, including seven 3-pointers.

“First, I want to say congratulations to the Troy Trojans,” Lister said. “Coach Renzi has a phenomenal program, and Ty Barrett is an unbelievable player. Mason Imbt, he’s just s man-child in there, and they’re so good, but, you know what, I think we’re a match-up challenge for them. Our length and our athleticism makes it a little bit tough for them.”

The Wildcats made their living in the paint, as they hit 31 2-point field goals, with no threes, as they worked to get the ball inside. That was in sharp contrast to Troy, who had as many threes (12) as two point field goals (12).

“I always say we’re a complete team,” remarked Lister. “I’ve got five or six guys out there all the time that can score, and score a lot, and I think that helps.

“And, if I go back in time, and I look at our AAU season, we battled them in AAU, but we were able to beat them in AAU. We battled over summer league, and we were able to beat them in summer league,” he noted. “We beat them at our place the first time we played them, and tonight was a phenomenal game. They got us last Saturday in Troy, and, I’m not taking anything away from them whatsoever, nothing, but we had to play back-to-back games, and I just didn’t think our legs were 100percent, and it showed a little bit.

“But tonight, we got rest, and I think our intensity was there in the beginning of the game, which was good,” added Lister. “And you need to do that against a team as good as Troy.”

Twice the Wildcats got out to decent leads, 8-2 in the first quarter, and 50-42 early in the fourth, but both times the Trojans came back. The two teams would trade leads down the stretch of the fourth, with Troy missing two game-winning shots in regulation. The two teams traded leads through the first half of the fourth quarter, until Athens got back-to-back buckets to go up three points. A Troy 3-pointer tied, but Carling got to the line, made the second of two freebies, and that was enough to carry it home.

Babcock had eight boards, seven assists, three blocks, and two steals to go with his 29 points.

“I keep saying it, he’s a complete player,” said Lister. “We want him to have the ball. He’s got to touch it, and, if he touches it, usually good things happen.”

Carling had 15 points, five boards, three assists, and two steals.

Mason Lister finished with eight points, four boards, five assists, and two steals, and Tucker Brown added eight points, and two steals.

Troy Pritchard had four points, two boards, and two steals, with Kolsen Keathley getting two points and three rebounds, and Christ Mitchell adding two points.

“When they went zone, we’re good at finding mismatches,” said Babcock. “When I touch the ball up top, I just see over everybody, and I see guys like Nails or Troy for easy buckets.”

After Barrett, Imbt was the second-leading scorer for Troy with 13 points, while Justice Chimics finished with nine. Lance Heasley and Ethan VanNoy had six points each.

“What a comeback by the Troy Trojans,” Lister remarked. “They made it a game, which you knew they would. An unbelievable shooting night they had.”

The Wildcats jumped out to an 8-2 lead thanks to three lay-ups and a jumper — Babcock had one of each — but after a Troy time-out, Barrett hit a three ball to cut it to 8-5.

Carling responded with another lay-up, but Chimics answered that with a 3-ball to make it 10-8. The two teams would trade buckets, followed by a VanNoy 3-ball to give Troy their first lead, 13-12, but a Brown jumper put Athens up 14-13 at the first horn.

The Wildcats opened the second quarter with lay-ups from Carling and Babcock, but Troy came back with two Imbt freebies, followed by a Heasley putback.

That’s when Athens went on a 12-0 run, fueled by six points from Lister. They showed off their quick passing as they assisted on three of the buckets, including a Babcock-to-Lister-to-Brown that got their fans going.

A Barrett lay-up off a Chimics assist stopped the run. Carling answered with a short jumper, but Troy finished the half on a 4-0 spurt to cut it to 32-23 at the half.

Babcock opened the third with a put-back, but Barrett got Troy rolling with back to back 3-balls to make it 34-29.

A 4-0 Athens spurt pushed it to 38-29, but Troy rallied again, as Imbt thad a putback, followed by another Barrett 3-pointer to make it 38-34.

Carling would score a lay-up at the other end, but the Trojans would cut it to 40-37 behind a 3-for-4 effort from the foul line.

After another Carling jumper, the two teams traded lay-ups, and Chimics hit another 3-pointer to close the gap to 44-42. Mitchell would get the final bucket of the quarter to give the Wildcats a 46-42 lead with one quarter left.

Athens would start the fourth with a 4-0 spurt, but an Imbt putback cut it to 50-44.

Then, Barrett put on one of the best shooting displays many people will see in a high school game. He would make three 3-pointers in a row, the second from nearly 25 feet, and the third off balance in transition, to put his team up 53-50 with 5:55 left in the game.

Babcock would end the run with a lay-up, but a Heasley bucket off a VanNoy pass helped Troy keep a 3-point lead.

Athens would chip away, though, as Babcock would hit two free throws and a lay-up to give them a 56-55 advantage with 3:50 left in the game.

Imbt would put Troy back up 57-56 off a putback, but Babcock came back with a runner at the other end with just under three minute to go.

The two teams would trade misses, followed by another Imbt putback to give the Trojans a 59-58 lead with 1:30 left to play.

Babcock would get fouled with just over a minute, making 1 of 2, to tie things up at 59-all.

At the other end, Troy would run some clock, then shoot with under 30 seconds to go. It missed, but Chimics hauled in the rebound.

Athens had some fouls to give, so, after a Trojan timeout, they began to foul, but one was by Mason Lister, which would knock him out of the game. Troy’s shot at the buzzer was no good, and the game went to overtime.

In the extra period, Babcock would get in the lane for a runner, but VanNoy came back with a 3-pointer. Babcock answered with a jump hook, with Barrett making two freebies at the other end.

Then came the big play of the extra period, as Babcock drove the lane. Imbt stood in to take a charge, there was contact, and the call came out a block, with the Wildcat senior making the lay-up.

He missed the free throw, but put Athens up 65-64 with 2:32 left to play.

Troy would miss at the 2:04 mark, Athens would miss with 1:57 left to play, with Troy then getting another miss after that.

Athens made good on their next possession, as Babcock had a putback with 1:20 left to go up three points.

“We were short-handed a little bit, but, you know, I just had to put it in my head that I had to take over the game,” said Babcock.

However, Troy didn’t go away, as Chimics hit his third 3-pointer of the game to knot things up at 67-all with 1:07 to play.

At the other end, the Athens shot was off, but Carling got the offensive board and was fouled. He missed the first, but made the second, putting the Wildcats up 68-67 with 49.9 seconds to play.

The Trojans would run some clock, then call a timeout with 21 seconds to play to set something up. Athens would get a near steal with 3.5 seconds to play, but the ball rolled out-of-bounds.

In the final seconds, Barrett was able to get a decent look, but the shot was just short.

“I’m so thrilled with the kids, and so happy for them,” said Lister. “I’m so happy for our program.”

Athens will now try to bottle this energy as they host a district game next week.

“It makes us feel like we can beat anybody,” said Babcock. “So we’re going to ride this momentum for sure.”

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February 19, 2022 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens crowned two champs, and will advance six wrestlers to next weekend’s District 4 Championships after a third-place finish here Saturday at the North Section Tournament.

Canton won the team title with 187.5 points, while Towanda was second with 129.5, Athens tallied  107.5 points, Troy was fourth with 102 points, and Wyalusing was fifth with 94 points.

Seniors Gavin Bradley and Karter Rude were North Section champs, while senior Kaden Setzer was forced to injury default after taking a big lead early in his title bout, and junior Jake Courtney gave up a takedown with 1 second remaining in overtime in his championship bout.

“Two champions is good,” said Athens coach Shawn Bradley. “We probably should have had four, but stuff happens.

“The big goal now is to get through this week, get to next week, and just keep moving on,” added Bradley.  “All four of those guys have aspirations, plus the other two who fought their way back through.”

Sophomore Josh Nittinger finished third in his weight class, and freshman Caleb Nason was a fourth-place finisher.

Bradley, the top seed at 113 pounds, decked Sullivan County’s Rocky Finnegan in 66 seconds in the semifinals, then flattened second-seed Cohen Landis of Canton in 57 seconds in the finals.

Bradley, now 30-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state, will be tested at Districts, says coach Bradley. The 113-pound bracket will likely be topped by former state champion (106 pounds in 2020) Brandon Wentzel, who is 31-2 this season.

“We’ll see next week. (Brandon Wentzel) is a state champ, and has two state medals — Gavin has three,” said Coach Bradley.

“Wentzel will be the first seed, and Gavin will be the 2-seed … the two highest point totals in the whole district are in the same weight class.

“Gavin is looking forward to it, and he’s working hard,” added Coach Bradley.

Rude, the second seed at 152 pounds, was dominant on his way to a title.

He pinned Wellsboro’s Jacob Dean in 13 seconds in the quarterfinals, then flattened third-seeded Jayden Renzo of Troy in 1:15 in the semifinals.

In the finals, top-seeded Bailey Ferguson of Canton scored the first takedown, but Rude relied to win an 8-3 decision.

Bradley said Rude is at the top of his game right now.

“(Karter) is working hard in practice, and he’s wearing kids out.

“He’s doing i the right way,” said Bradley. “He’s wrestling  hard, and staying in great position.

“He’s peaking at the right time, he just needs to keep it going,” added Bradley.

Setzer, the top seed at 132 pounds, pinned Wyalusing’s Cade McMicken in 1:32 in the semifinals, then used two sets of near-fall points to build a 9-2 first-period lead on second-seeded Seth Seymour of Troy, when he “tweaked” his knee during a scramble.

He tried to continue, but Bradley stopped the match after Setzer was unable to defend against Seymour’s takedown attempts.

“He strained (his knee) a little bit,” said Bradley. “Hopefully, tomorrow it feels better.

“He got through this week. Now we work toward next weekend.

“That weight class is deep, so it may not matter one way or the other,” added Bradley. “He’s going to have to wrestle hard next weekend.”

Courtney, the top seed at 138 pounds, scored an 18-3 technical fall over Troy’s Ben Randall in 3:05 in the quarterfinals, then forged a 10-4 decision over Williamson’s Ayden Sprague in the semifinals.

In the finals, third-seeded Riley Vanderpool of Towanda built a 5-0 lead, but a reversal late in the second period closed the gap to 5-2.

After an escape late in the third period, Courtney scored a takedown with 8 seconds remaining to force overtime.

In the extra session, Courtney got in deep on a takedown, but was unable to finish it off, and Vanderpool came out on top in a scramble to secure a takedown with 1 second remaining in the extra session.

“It was a good scramble,” said Bradley. “Credit to (Riley Vanderpool), he fought through it, you can’t take that away from him. Jake just has to finish off that takedown in overtime.

“We were trying to push it too hard in overtime,” added Bradley. “He just needs to stay with his techniques.”

Nittinger, the third seed at 285 pounds, opened his day with a pin of NEB’s Kamden Ricci in 1:39 in the quarterfinals.

In the semifinals, NIttinger gave up back points late in the third period in a 5-3 loss to second-seeded Mason Nelson of Canton.

In the wrestlebacks, NIttinger forged a 15-1 major decision over Wellsboro’s Justice Harlan to advance to the third-place match, where he pinned Towanda’s Jared Gunther with 7 seconds remaining in the third period.

“Josh getting through (to Districts) for the first time is a big deal,” said Bradley. “And, it’s probably the best Josh has wrestled all year. We just need to keep building on that.”

Bradley lamented Nittinger’s loss in the semifinals.

“Josh is a knucklehead,” laughed Bradley. “He didn’t know the score. He said he thought he was losing, and that’s why he went for the big move. All he had to do was go to overtime.

“He was controlling the pace the entire match,” noted Bradley. “I thought we could have gotten a couple more stalling calls, but it is what it is.

“I bet he’ll remember the score of the match now,” added Bradley.

At 215 pounds, Nason’s day started in inauspicious fashion with a loss via second-period fall to Canton’s Connor Davis.

Nason decked Jamie Roman in 1:57, then won via injury default of NP-L’s Goerge Valentine to advance to the third-place match, where Davis again got the better of Nason — this time in a 12-7 decision.

“Caleb getting through as a freshman is a big deal,” said Bradley. “Caleb is as strong as a horse. He’s going to get better.

“He just needs to listen better during matches, and take advantage of opportunities,” added Bradley.

Senior Lucas Forbes, the fifth seed at 145 pounds, went 1-2 on the day.

He dropped a 5-1 decision to fourth-seeded Skyler Manahan in the quarterfinals, but bounced back with a pin of NP-L’s Ryan Roupp in 53 seconds.  Forbes was eliminated in the consolation semifinals in a 6-4 loss to Towanda’s Sawyer Robinson.

Sophomore Mason Vanderpool was 0-2 on the day at 126 pounds.

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February 18, 2022 Tim Birney

ROME — A dominant defensive effort, and a 28-point showing by Caydence Macik helped lead the Athens Wildcats past Northeast Bradford 37-25 in the semifinals of the NTL Showdown on Thursday night.

The Wildcats advance to the finals where they will take on Towanda in the final on Saturday.

“Girls are excited, we played a great defensive game as a team,” Athens coach Brian Miller said. “And, Caydence scoring 28 points was a stellar offensive game. She was 11-16 from the floor, exceptional shooting and scoring.

“Beating NEB at home is a tough thing to do and we are happy and excited to get back in the NTL overall championship game.”

The Athens defense held the Panthers scoreless in the first quarter.

“I was really happy with our defense,” Athens coach Miller said. “We played hard, communication was outstanding and we executed our defense very well like we practice it on a daily basis. So, to hold a team like that to 25 points makes me proud as a coach.”

Macik got four of the six opening quarter points for the Wildcats as they led 6-0 after one.

Athens led 16-10 at the half after both teams scored 10 in the second quarter.

Macik and Karlee Bartlow each had five points in the second quarter for Athens and Alana Beebe had five points for the Panthers in the quarter.

In the second half it was Macik taking over as she had seven points in the third quarter and 12 in the fourth to help the Wildcats secure the win.

Both teams stayed even in the third quarter at nine points each, but in the fourth quarter Macik scored all of her team’s points to help seal the win. Beebe had two threes in the fourth for the Panthers to try and keep them in the game.

Bartlow finished with five points for Athens and Emma Bronson had four points.

Macik had a double-double, finishing with 10 rebounds, and adding three steals. She was 11-for-16 from the floor in the win.

Addy Wheeler had a strong game leading the Wildcats offense, racking up five assists and seven steals in the game.

Bartlow had two rebounds, two steals and she blocked two shots and Bronson and Olivia Bartlow each had four rebounds in the game.

The Panthers were without leading-scorer Maisie Neuber, who was out with an ankle sprain.

Beebe led Northeast Bradford with 16 points and Kayleigh Thomas had seven, with three steals.

Kate O’Connor had two points and eight boards for NEB and Julia Brown also had eight rebounds.

The final is at 7 p.m. at Sayre on Saturday. Towanda made the final with a 46-11 win over Canton.

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February 18, 2022 Tim Birney

WYALUSING — The Wyalusing Rams came out firing in the NTL Showdown on Thursday night, but Athens had the answer every time in a 74-69 win.

Wyalusing hit 11 threes in the game, but the Wildcats had four players in double figures, and were led by a 29-point, 10 assist effort from J.J. Babcock in the win.

“First, congratulations to Wyalusing for one of the best shooting performances I have seen in a long time,” Athens coach Jim Lister said. “I am very proud of our kids. They stuck to the plan tonight and got us a big win. Wyalusing is not an easy place to play.”

Wyalusing hit five first-quarter threes, with Isaiah Way hitting three of them, on his way to 11 first-quarter points, and Grady Cobb knocking down two in the quarter.

But, Athens kept the game tied at 19 after one as Nalen Carling had seven points, including a three, and Babcock had six points. Tucker Brown finished with four in the quarter and Mason Lister scored a basket in the quarter.

In the second quarter Babcock started to take over with eight points, and Lister drained two from distance as the Wildcats outscored the Rams 20-12 in the quarter to take an eight-point lead into the half.

“J.J. Babcock was outstanding tonight, once again,” Lister said. “I keep saying he has become the complete player and he proved it again tonight.”

Wyalusing went inside in the third as Blake Morningstar scored 13 points in the quarter and the Rams outscored the Wildcats 22-18 in the third to cut the deficit to 57-53 heading into the fourth.

Babcock led the Wildcats in the third quarter with nine points, including a three.

In the fourth the Wildcats sealed the win by going 11-for-15 from the free throw line.

“The entire team all hit big foul shots at the end of the game to keep us ahead,” Lister said. “I am very proud of all of them. Freshmen Kolsen Keathley stepped up again on the defensive end in a big way and Mason Lister took a big time charge at the end of the game to secure the win.”

Babcock was 11-for-18 from the field in the win and he was 7-for-10 from the free throw line to help seal the win.

Along with his 29 points and 10 assists, Babcock added three steals, a blocked shot and six rebounds.

Carling finished with 16 points for the Wildcats and Brown had 13 points with four assists. Brown was 5-for-8 from the field in the game.

Lister had 12 points and four rebounds, with three assists and a steal.

Troy Pritchard and Keathley each finished with two points in the game.

Athens shot 52% from the field in the game and they hit 16-of-23 from the free throw line in the win.

Cobb led Wyalusing with 22 points and four assists and Morningstar had a double-double with 20 points, 18 in the second half, and 12 steals, along with seven rebounds.

Nolan Oswald and Abram Bennett had two points each for the Rams.

Athens will face Troy for a third time this year in the NTL Showdown Final. Troy won the other semifinal 78-54. The game is at 4 p.m. Saturday at Sayre.

“Another terrific team win by the Athens Wildcats,” Lister said. “We are looking forward to another war with the awesome Troy Trojans on Saturday afternoon, especially with a days rest this time.”

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February 16, 2022 Tim Birney

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.

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February 16, 2022 Tim Birney

TIOGA JUNCTION — Athens displayed offensive firepower in the first quarter, and shutdown defense in the middle two en route to a season-ending 52-19 win over Williamson here Wednesday evening in NTL Large School junior varsity boys basketball action.

Korey Miller pumped in eight points and Troy Rosenbloom added six points in the first quarter, while Davin Spencer and Connor Mosher each canned 3-pointers, and Jase Babcock converted an old-fashioned three-point play to fuel a 27-8 blitz in the opening seven minutes.

Spencer scored six points in the second quarter, and Noah Hobday and Jase Babcock each scored five to power a 16-0 second-quarter run that pushed the lead to 43-8 at the half.

The Wildcats held the Warriors scoreless again in the third quarter, and Matt Aquino’s 3-pointer were the only tally of the stanza as the lead free to 46-8 entering the final seven minutes.

Spencer led Athens with nine points, three rebounds, and three steals, while Miller had eight points, four rebounds, two assists, and four steals, and Babcock had eight points, three boards, and one blocked shot.

Rosenbloom added six points and two assists in the win, while Mosher scored five points and dished out three assists, Hobday scored five points, and Peter Jones contributed three rebounds and four steals.

All 11 Wildcats that played put their name in the scoring column in the win.

Under coach Cody White, Athens wraps up the season with a 19-3 record.

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February 14, 2022 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Freshman Addy Wheeler scored a career-high 18 points to lead Athens to a regular season-ending, 45-12, win over North Penn-Mansfield here Monday night in NTL Large School girls basketball action.

With the win, the Lady Wildcats, now 16-5, clinch the second spot in the Large School Division, and advance to a semi-final round match-up Thursday against Northeast Bradford. Towanda will host Canton in the other semifinal.

Senior Caydence Macik scored four points in the first quarter, and Wheeler canned a 3-pointer to help Athens to a 9-4 lead after the first eight minutes.

Wheeler buried a pair of 3-pointers, and scored eight points in the second quarter, and junior Emma Bronson added four points to fuel a 16-0 blitz that upped the Athens advantage to 25-4 at the half.

Wheeler knocked down her fourth 3-pointer, and scored seven points in the third quarter, and Macik added six points in a 15-3 run to extend the Athens lead to 40-7 entering the final eight minutes.

Macik scored 10 points in the win, while junior Karlee Bartlow had four points, three rebounds, four assists, and three steals, and senior Olivia Bartlow had four points, eight rebounds, and two blocked shots.

Emma Bronson had four points and one blocked shot, while junior Natalie Watson hauled down six boards, and freshman Sara Bronson added three rebounds.

Shaina Sparrow led NPM with five points.

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February 14, 2022 Chris Manning

TOWANDA - Athens’ J,J, Babcock inched closer to his 500th rebound in a 79-45 win over Towanda during NTL Boys’ basketball action Monday.

He needs just four boards Wednesday against Williamson to reach 500, which would be his second milestone in less than a week. He scored his 1,000th point in a win over Wellsboro Friday.

“That’s actually very nice,” Babcock said about getting two milestones his senior year. “It’s something I’ve been working toward for a long time.”

The Wildcats led by just five points at the half, but rattled off a 45-16 run in the second half to get the win, playing their fourth game in six days.

“We knew Towanda was going to bring it,” said Babcock. “Coach (Landon) Henry is a really good coach. We just had to fight through the adversity, and come out on top.”

Mason Lister led Athens with 22 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, five steals, and two blocked shots, while Nalen Carling had 13 points to go with six boards and one blocked shot, and Babcock had a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists, to go with six steals and two blocked shots.

Tucker Brown had nine points and three boards, while Chris Mitchell added seven points and four rebounds, and Korey Miller, Kolsen Keathley, and Troy Prtichard had six points each. Pritchard chipped in with four boards, and three steals

Dante Ottaviani and Teagan Irish had 11 points each to lead the Knights, while Justin Schoonover added nine, and Mason Hartmann chipped in with eight.

Towanda led 8-6 early but a 5-0 run from Athens saw them take an 11-8 lead.

Irish would respond with a lay-up, but a Carling jumper, followed by a Keathley putback pushed Athens’ advantage to 15-10.

An Ottaviani 3-ball cut it to 15-13, but another Carling bucket pushed it back to a 4-point lead for the Wildcats.

However, Towanda ended the quarter on a 6-2 run, thanks to threes from Wheaton and Irish, to knot things up at 19-19 at the quarter break.

Athens came out strong in the second, going on a 6-0 run as they turned three straight steals into three straight lay-ups — two by Babcock.

Towanda would get a lay-up from Hartmann, followed by a 3-ball from Ottaviani, to cut it to 25-24, but a Lister 3-pointer made it 28-24, and Babcock would score off a Carling assist to make it 30-24.

Ottaviani would answer with a 3-pointer to trim the deficit to 30-27.

Carling, though, would go on a 4-2 spurt for Athens, to give them a 34-29 lead at the half.

In the third quarter, the Wildcats blitzed Towanda with a 10-0 burst, led by six points from Lister, to take a 44-29 lead.

Hartmann would get a lay-up to stop the bleeding, but it started over again, as Athens went on an 8-2 run, as four different players scored, to make it 52-33.

The Knights would cut it to 53-37, but Athens would extend it to 57-37 on a Lister lay-up, followed by a Babcock dunk.

Towanda ended the quarter on a 3-0 spurt to make it 57-40.

However, Athens pretty much ended it with a 5-1 run to start the fourth, to take a 62-41 lead.

“We definitely amped up the intensity,” said Babcock. “We knew we had to bring it.”

Athens will need to beat Williamson on Wednesday to advance to the NTL Showdown, where they would travel to Wyalusing, a match-up they look forward to, as the Rams beat them earlier this season.

If they beat Wyalusing, they could likely face Troy again in the NTL Showdown finale, so they still have plenty play for, including some revenge.

“We can’t wait to play them again,” said Babcock. “Those are the two great games for sure.”

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February 14, 2022 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens earned three wins in four nights over NTL Large School Divisional opponents, including a victory over Troy to avenge a loss earlier this season, to improve to 18-3 on the season.

Athens 41, Towanda 28
At Towanda, Athens gradually pulled away for a 41-28 win over Towanda Monday night.

Kolsen Keathley scored four points in the first quarter to help the junior Wildcats to an 11-7 lead after the first seven minutes.

Troy Rosenbloom scored six points in the second quarter, and Keathley added an old-fashioned three-point play in an 11-7 run that pushed the Athens lead to 19-14 at the half.

Jase Babcock and Korey Miller scored four points apiece in the third quarter as Athens outscored Towanda, 12-8, to take a 31-22 lead into the final seven minutes.

Xavier Watson and Keathley scored four points apiece in the fourth quarter as Athens added to its lead with a 10-6 spurt.

Keathley led Athens with 11 points and six rebounds, while Rosenbloom had eight points, two assists, and two steals, and Watson had eight points, five boards, two steals, and one blocked shot.

Miller had four points, seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals in the win, while Jack Cheresnowsky had four points, three rebounds, and one blocked shot, Jase Babcock chipped in with four points, Davin Spencer had three rebounds and two steals, and Peter Jones grabbed three boards.

Athens 61, Troy 51
At Troy, Athens rallied from seven points down at the half to pull out a 61-51 win over Troy at the Commons Building Saturday.

Korey Miller buried a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter, while Xavier Watson also had six points, and Troy Rosenbloom added four points to help Athens to an 18-6 lead after the first seven minutes.

Troy outscored Athens, 18-9 in the second quarter to take a 34-27 lead into the half, but the Wildcats answered with a strong third quarter.

Kolsen Keathley scored nine points to fuel a 13-2 third-quarter blitz that gave Athens a 40-36 lead heading into the final seven minutes.

Watson scored eight points in the fourth quarter, and Miller added six points, including four free throws, as Athens made 7 of 10 free throws down the stretch to preserve the win in a 21-15 fourth-quarter run.

Watson scored 17 points and Miller had 16 points, three rebounds, six assists, and four steals to lead Athens, while Keathley had 13 points, seven rebounds and four steals.

Rosenbloom had six points and two assists in the win, while Jase Babcock had four points and two assists, Jack Cheresnowsky grabbed three rebounds, and Conner Mosher dished out three assists.

Athens 40, Wellsboro 23

At Athens, the junior Wildcats used a 12-2 second quarter blitz to build an 11-point halftime lead on its way to a 40-23 win over Wellsboro Friday.

Matt Aquilio buried a 3-pointer in the first quarter, and three of his teammates put their name in the scoring column to help Athens to a 9-8 lead after the first seven minutes.

Korey Miller canned a 3-pointer, and Kolsen Keathley converted an old-fashioned three-point play as Athens extended its lead to 21-10 at the half.

Keathley scored six points in the third quarter, and Xavier Watson finished off a three-point play as Athens used a 15-11 advantage to take a 36-21 lead into the final seven minutes.

Keathley led Athens with 11 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, three steals, and three blocked shots, while Watson scored seven points, and Miller had five points, three rebounds, three assists, seven steals, and one blocked shot.

Aquilio scored five points for the Wildcats, while Connor Mosher had four points, four boards, and one blocked shot, Jack Cheresnowsky had four points and three rebounds, and Troy Rosenbloom added three rebounds.

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February 12, 2022 Chris Manning

TROY — Athens came within a rimmed out lay-up of possibly taking hold of the NTL Large School title chase, but ultimately ran out of gas as it fell to Troy, 70-64, in boys basketball action here Saturday at the Commons Building.

The Wildcats, who trailed for most of the game, rallied from 14 down in the third, to a 2-point deficit with a little more than a minute to go when that shot rolled out. In the final 67 seconds, the Trojans used the free throw line to out score Athens, 6-1, to preserve the win, and clinch their second straight division championship.

“First, I want to say I’m going to give Coach Renzi and Troy all the credit in the world,” said Athens coach Jim Lister. “They really played hard tonight, they won the game.

“I’m very proud of my kids. This was a hell of a gauntlet we had to go through here, (NP-Mansfield) Wednesday night, Wellsboro last night) and to come here and play Troy tonight, we were asking a lot of our kids, and they never quit,” noted Lister. “They came back, and they showed me a lot of heart tonight, and I’m extremely proud of them.”

The Wildcats rolled past NP-Mansfield mid-week, but had to hold off Wellsboro on Friday before facing the league leading Trojans.

“I thought our legs were a little tired in the first half,” said Lister. “I think that’s why they got a good lead on us. But, just my kids, man, they got a ton of heart, they fought back.”

Babcock certainly put it all out on the court as he had one of the best games of his career with 30 points, eight boards, four assists, four steals, and three blocked shots. In the first half, he helped carry the load with nine points in the opening quarter to keep Troy from getting too far out in front, then scored 13 in the final frame during Athens’ rally.

“I’m thrilled with JJ, and his effort tonight,” Lister remarked. “I mean, he just wanted to take over the game, he wanted to win.”

Mason Lister added 15 points, and five boards, as he was money with his mix of baseline jumpers and runners.

Nalen Carling scrapped for 10 points, and six rebounds, while Tucker Brown had four points, and four assists, Troy Pritchard finished with three points, and Kolsen Keathley added two points, four boards, and some tough defense on Troy’s Ty Barrett.

“I’m going to give a big shout out to my freshman Kolsen Keathley,” said Lister. “He came in in that quarter and he busted his tail, and he worked hard, and he got us back in that game.”

Mason Imbt led Troy with 24 points, while Barrett finished with 23. Zeb Oldroyd netted eight, Justice Chimics scored seven, Jackson Taylor and Ethan VanNoy had three points apiece, while Colin Loveland rounded things out with two.

Barrett came out of the gates on fire, hitting back-to-back 3-balls in Troy’s first two possessions to put the Trojans up 6-0. Their lead would get to 8-0 on an Imbt lay-up from a VanNoy pass, but a Lister jumper stopped that run.

Imbt would make it 10-2 with another lay-up at the 4:17 mark of the first quarter, but the Wildcats came back with jumpers from Babcock and Lister.

Imbt’s third bucket of the game made it 12-6, but after that the Wildcats went on a 9-2 run to take a 15-14 lead. Babcock scored seven of the night points, while Lister had a lay-up.

However, Barrett’s third 3-pointer of the quarter with 16 seconds on the clock would put the Trojans back up 17-15.

Troy came out strong in the second, with getting back to back lay-ups from Barrett and Imbt to take a 21-15 lead in the first minute.

Another Babcock ‘And-1’ cut it to 21-18, followed by the two teams trading bucket to make it 23-20 at the 4:49 mark.

The back-and-forth continued for the next three minutes, as both teams had five points apiece, until Lister hit a baseline jumper at the minute mark to cut it to 28-27.

Oldroyd would answer with a 3-ball, followed by a Barrett dump off to Imbt down low that put the Trojans back up 33-27 with 21 seconds left to play.

Pritchard would get a lay-up with a 6.6 seconds for a 33-29 halftime score.

Troy came out of the half like a shot, beginning with buckets from Imbt and Barrett to take a 37-29 lead.

A Carling jumper cut it to 37-31, but Oldroyd answered with a 3-ball to go up 40-31.

Babcock would get another old fashioned 3-point play, but the Trojans followed with a 6-0 run — Barrett had a lay-up, Oldroyd finished a put back, and Chimics scored on a transition lay-up – to build their biggest lead yet, 46-34.

A Babcock steal and lay-up at the 2:52 mark made it a 10-point game, but two more Trojans baskets — one from Chimics, the other from Imbt, and both off Barrett assists — gave the Trojans a 50-36 advantage with 2:00 left in the third.

Athens answered with a 4-0 spurt as Babcock found Lister for a lay-up, and Brown had a steal and bucket.

Then, with 1:18 left on the clock, Barrett found Imbt for a lay-up, plus the foul, to make it 53-40.

Babcock would continue to make plays for his team, though, as he found Brown for a bucket, then had another steal and lay-up, to cut it to 53-44.

The final basket of the quarter belonged to Barrett, though, as he hit a runner to make it a 55-44 Trojan lead going into the final frame.

“You know, when we were up going into the fourth, I said to the guys, this ain’t over,” said Troy coach Steve Renzi. “Athens was a champion two years ago, they know. They know what they got to do to comeback, and they did.”

It began on the defensive end for the Wildcats, as they held Troy scoreless for nearly four minutes to start the fourth. That allowed them to chip away, going on an 9-0 run, with seven of them from Babcock, to cut it to 55-53.

A pair of Imbt free throws extended the lead back to four points, but a Babcock driving lay-up made it a 2-point game again.

Barrett answered with a driving lay-up of his own with 3:57 on the clock for a 59-55 lead.

Athens would get a turnover on their next possession, with Chimics getting fouled and going to the line for a 1-and-1. He made the first, but missed the second, giving the Trojans a little more breathing room at 60-55 with 3:15 left.

The Wildcats would have another turnover, but Troy missed at the other end.

It was Keathley cutting it to 60-57 for the Wildcats with a lay-up at the 2:41 mark.

Troy, though, would get a big 3-ball from VanNoy — nothing but net — off an Imbt assist to push their lead to 63-57.

Lister, though, was able to erase that with a lay-up plus the foul, making the freebie for a 63-60 score with just over two minute to play.

Taylor would get fouled at the other end, making both, to once again push the lead to four points.
The two teams would then trade misses, followed by Babcock getting his seventh And-1 of the game, making the free throw to cut it to 65-63 with 1:46 left.

After getting the ball back, Athens had a good look at a lay-up, but that’s when it rolled out.

Barrett ended up with the ball, and at the free throw line, making both, to push it to 67-63 with 1:07 left to play.

Babcock would get to the free throw line at the other, making 1-of-2, to cut it to 67-64 with 43.5 left to play.

Those would be the final points Athens would score, though, as their final three possessions ended with two turnovers, and a miss.

Troy would go 3 of 6 down the stretch — Imbt himself was 2-for-4 — to secure the win.

“We were a lay-up away from tying this game up with a minute left,” Lister said. “It was a fantastic basketball game in front of a packed house. It’s the way it’s supposed to be. We just came up on the short end of it.”

The Wildcats have two league games left, beginning with a trip to Towanda on Monday, and, if they win out, will be in the NTL Showdown where they could meet Troy for the third time this season.

“We have a lot of basketball left,” Lister remarked. “And we will be back. I promise you that.”

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February 11, 2022 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Senior Nalen Carling fueled a strong first half, and his classmate J.J. Babcock netted his 1,000th career point in Athens’ 48-40 win over Wellsboro here Friday night in NTL Large School Division boys basketball action.

However, Athens coach Jim Lister said it was his team’s defense, employing 1-3-1 half-court pressure, that was the difference.

“Defensively, I thought we played awesome in the first half,” he said. “We only gave up 15 points to a very good Wellsboro team … if we continue to play defense like that, we should be OK.

“I went back over the last 48 hours and I watched our game (at Wellsboro) three times,” noted Lister. “I realized (Wellsboro’s) guards are very good shooters, but I thought we could put some more pressure on them, which we did not do the first game, and make it a little more difficult for them.

“Our length and athleticism created a lot of problems for them,” added Lister. “I don’t think they saw that coming.”

The 6-3 Carling, matched up against a 5-10 defender, scored 10 points in the first quarter, including a pair of feee throws that gave Athens the lead for good at 6-4.

“We didn’t have Nalen (Carling) at Wellsboro, he was very ill and did not make the trip,” said Lister.

“Watching film and looking at the match-ups … I thought we’d have a size advantage with Nalen,” added Lister. “I thought Nalen would be the x-factor, and dominate in the paint, and that’s exactly what he did.”

After a 3-pointer by Wellsboro’s Connor Adams closed the gap to 8-7, Lister drained a long 3-pointer from the right wing to trigger a 13-1 run that put the Wildcats ahead 21-8 with 2 1/2 minutes remaining in the first half.

Carling and Lister scored buckets to give the Wildcats their biggest lead of the first half, at 27-13, with 40 seconds remaining in the half, but Liam Manning scored on a putback at the buzzer to make it 27-15.

Peyton McClure, who scored a game-high 21 points on seven 3-pointers in the first Athens-Wellsboro game, canned his second 3-pointer of the game to close the gap to 29-20 with 5:29 remaining in the third quarter. McClure finished the game with two 3-pointers and eight points.

“We had Mason (Lister) on (Peyton McClure) in the second half, and his job was to make sure he didn’t hurt us,” said Lister. “We did a good job on him.”

Adams knocked down a jumper in the lane to make it 29-22 with 5:16 remaining, but senior Troy Pritchard and Babcock scored in the low blocks to make it 33-22 with 3:08 remaining.

The teams traded buckets, with Liam Manning scoring in the post with 50 seconds left to close the gap to 35-26 heading into the final eight minutes.

Carling scored on a nice drive down the lane with 6:25 remaining, but Adams drained a 3-pointer just 10 seconds later to make it 37-29.

Drew Manning scored on the offensive boards midway through the final stanza to make it 39-33. After a defensive stop, the Hornets had a chance to cut deeper into the Athens lead, but Babcock came up with a steal and coast-to-coast drive for an old-fashioned three-point play to make it 42-33 with 3:22 remaining.

Babcock made 2 of 5 free-throw attempts over the next two minutes, but the Wildcats kept Wellsboro off the board.

With Athens up 44-33 with 1:15 remaining in the contest, Adams drained a pair of 3-pointers in a 17-second span to close the gap to 44-39.

“That was probably my mistake,” said Lister of Adams’ consecutive 3-pointers. “I switched us into man-to-man, and I probably should have stayed with the half-court press a little longer because (Wellsboro) was struggling to get the ball up the court.

“We stayed in man, and we packed it too deep,” noted Lister. “We let (Adams) get to the top-of-the-key, and he hurt us.”

“We called timeout, and fixed that real fast,” added Lister. “Then, they had no choice, but to foul us.”

The Wildcats, who made just 8 of 19 free throws in the game, made 3 of 6 free throws, including Babcock knocking down one from the charity stripe with 20 seconds remaining in the game for his milestone point.

“We didn’t shoot fouls shots very well tonight,” said Lister. “If there’s one thing that bothered me tonight, it was our foul shooting. We can’t do that (Saturday) night at Troy, we have to make those shots.

“We’ll spend some time on the foul line (Saturday) before we go to Troy, I guarantee you that,” Lister added.

Lister also lauded Babcock for his 1,000th point.

“He’s turned into a complete player … for him, it wasn’t about the 1,000th, it was about the win,” he said. “To get both tonight, I’m so happy for him.

“I’ve been coaching J.J. since the third-grade, so I’ve watched him grow and develop over the years.

“Does it help that he’s 6-foot-6? Yes,” said Lister. “But, it’s the other parts of the game that make him the player he is … he has an incredible basketball IQ, and he has the frame to go with it.

“It’s an awesome accomplishment. I’m very happy for him,” he added.

Carling led Athens with 19 points and four rebounds, while Babcock had 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and three blocked shots, and senior Tucker Brown added five points and six rebounds.

Pritchard chipped in with four points and six rebounds in the win, and junior Mason Lister had five points, three boards, three assists, three steals, and one blocked shot.

Adams led Wellsboro with 14 points and four 3-pointers, and Liam Manning added eight points.

With the win, Athens remains 1 game behind Troy in the Large School standings. The Wildcats travel to Troy Saturday night.

“We’ve been taking it one game at a time,” said Lister. “If we get through the Troy game (Saturday), we still have to go to Towanda Monday, and we still have to go to Williamson Wednesday night.

“We just have to keep our foot on the gas, and keep going.

“Troy is a big one tomorrow night, I’m sure that’s going to be a packed house,” added Lister. “We have to bring it, and be ready.”

Lister continues to be impressed with the support his teams has received from the student body.

“A huge shout-out to the student section, they were awesome again tonight,” he said. “The school spirit is incredible, and I hope they all come to Troy (Saturday) night.”

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February 10, 2022 Tim Birney

ATHENS — The Athens boys and girls rolled to big wins over Towanda on Senior Night here Thursday in NTL swimming & diving action.

Senior Reuven Gifeisman won four events to lead the Athens boys to a 115-41 wi over the Black Knights, while senior Brooke Kopatz was a triple-winner to help the Lady Wildcats to a 115-35 win.

Athens 115, Towanda 41

Like Gifeisman, junior Chris DeForest won four events, while junior Ethan Denlinger and freshman Ethan Hicks was a triple-winner as the Wildcats close the season with a 6-1 record.

"I am really impressed with all our first-year swimmers and how all our kids have shown improvement this season,” said Athens coach Mark Keister.

Gifeisman led a sweep in the 100-yard freestyle, clocking in at 1:02.65, while junior Joe Blood was second in 1:08.52, and freshman Aiden Oldroyd was third in 1:14.86.

DeForest won the 200-yard freestyle in a time of 1:56.1, and Blood was third in 2:29.51.

DeForest also won the 50-yard freestyle in a time of 23.61, and freshman Ronel Ankam was second in 25.86 seconds.

Gifeisman and DeForest teamed with Hicks and Blood to win the 400-yard freestyle relay in a time of 4:07.84.

Gifeisman, DeForest and Denlinger teamed with Ankam to win the 200-yard free relay in a time of 1:44.54

Gifeisman and Hicks teamed with freshmen Ryan Gorman, and Josh Leonard to win the 200-yard medley relay in a time of 2:04.38

Denlinger won the 200-yard IM in a time of 2:24.23, and Hicks won the 500-yard freestyle in a time of 5:40.32.

Ankam won the 100-yard backstroke in a time of 1:16.29, and Leonard won the 100-yard butterfly in a time of 1:10.96.

Freshman Treyvon Simpson won the 1-meter diving competition with 143.25 points, and freshman Carter Lewis was second with 120 points.

Denlinger was second in the 100-yard breaststroke in a time of 1:19.56, and Gorman was third in 1:28.28.

Athens 115, Towanda 35

Juniors Taegan Williams and Taylar Fisher won four events, while sophomore Emily Marshall joined Kopatz as a triple-winner in Athens’ 115-35 win over Towanda.

“The kids are really hitting their times at the right time of the season to qualify for the post-season,” said Athens coach Shauntel Place. “I am so happy with all our swimmers today."

Williams won the 200-yard freestyle in a time of 2:08.8, and sophomore Grace Cobb was second in 2:23.42. Williams also won the 500-yard freestyle in a time of 5:55.95, and Cobb was second in 6:32.85.

Fisher won the 200-yard IM in 2:32.47, edging Kopatz (2:32.9) by less than a half-second. Fisher also won the 100-yard backstroke in a time of 1:11.73, and Marshall was second in 1:18.15.

Williams and Fisher teamed with Marshall and Kopatz to win the 200-yard freestyle relay in a time of 1:53.35.

Williams and Fisher teamed with Kopatz and Cobb to win the 400-yard free relay in a time of 4:28.51.

Kopatz led a sweep in the 100-yard breaststroke in a time of 1:13.42, while junior Alli Thoman was second in 1:24.19, and sophomore Emily Henderson was third in 1:42.62.

Marshall won the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1:19.5, edging out Macaria Benjamin, who was second in 1:19.93.

Marshall, Thoman, Benjamin, and freshman Elizabeth Talada teamed to win the 200-yard medley relay in a time of 2:20.13.

Senior Hannah Walker was second in the 100-yard freestyle in a personal-best time of 1:11.71

Thoman finished third in the 50-yard freestyle in 31.37 seconds

“We are looking to have an all-NTL last chance meet next week to give swimmers and divers one more time to improve their swims and possibly qualify for post-season competition,” said Keister.

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February 10, 2022 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens used balanced scoring to pull away from North Penn-Mansfield for a 45-24 win here Wednesday night in NTL junior varsity boys basketball action.

Four different Wildcats put their names in the scoring column in the first quarter, helping them to a 9-8 win.

Six Wildcats scored in the second quarter, including Nicholas Jacob and Korey Miller who connected on 3-pointers, in a 15-5 run that extended the Athens lead to 24-13 at the half.

Peter Jones and Xavier Watson scored four points apiece in the third quarter in a 13-6 run that pushed the lead to 37-19 entering the final seven minutes.

Ten different Wildcats scored in the win, led by Watson and Kolsen Keathley, who had nine and eight points, respectively

Jase Babcock had seven points and three rebounds in the win, while Jack Cheresnowsky had four points and four rebounds, Miller had four points, rebounds, four assists, and one blocked shot, Jones had four points and five rebounds, and Troy Rosenbloom had four rebounds, three steals, and one blocked shot.

Athens returns to action Friday when it hosts Wellsboro.

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February 10, 2022 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens dished out a large dose of senior Caydence Macik, and an even bigger dose of defense in a 45-26 win over Troy here Thursday night in NTL Large School girls basketball action.

“I really love to coach defense, and we have a philosophy,” said Athens coach Brian Miller. “We all believe in it, and the girls really played to that philosophy tonight.

“We wanted to limit them driving the ball to the basket, because they are more of a driving, slashing team,” noted Miller. “We made sure we were outside on their shooters, and we did a nice job fronting the post because they love to enter the ball into the post.

“That might have been our best defensive performance of the year as a team,” added Miller. “To hold that team to 25 points … even the shots they made were highly-contested.”

The win also avenges a 35-28 loss at Troy earlier this season. In that loss, the Lady Wildcats played without junior Karlee Bartlow.

“Having Karlee (Bartlow) was the huge difference,” said Miller. “She’s one of our better guards and scorers and has experience; that was a huge difference.

“We also executed offensively against their zone, and then against their man-to-man,” he added. “And, we scored in transition.“

Macik scored 15 points in the first quarter to help Athens to a 17-9 lead after the first eight minutes.

“We got the ball Caydence a lot, especially early on, and she finished,” said Miller. “She had a really good offensive night.”

Athens stretched its lead to nine points, at 22-13, on a 3-pointer by Addy Wheeler with 2:10 remaining in the first half.

Karlee Bartlow scored on a driving lay-up early in the opening minute of the second half, and Macik scored off a steal under the bucket to give the Lady Wildcats a 27-15 lead with 6:18 remaining in the third quarter.

A jumper by Troy’s Katie Lackey with 3:10 remaining in the third quarter trimmed the deficit to 30-21, but Athens closed the quarter with a 6-2 spurt — on a jumper by Macik, and back-to-back driving lay-ups by Karlee Bartlow — to take a 36-23 lead into the final eight minutes.

Sophomore Mya Thompson scored four points, and Macik converted an old-fashioned three-point play as the Wildcats used a 9-2 spurt to take its biggest lead of the game, at 45-25, in the final minute of the game.

Macik led Athens with 28 points, six rebounds and one blocked shot, while Karlee Bartlow had eight points, seven rebounds, two assists, and one blocked shot, and Wheeler added five points, seven rebounds, and two assists.

Thompson chipped in with four points and one blocked shot in the win, while senior Olivia Bartlow grabbed five rebounds and blocked four shots, and junior Emma Bronson contributed five rebounds, three assists, and six steals.

Lackey led Troy with 12 points and six rebounds.

Athens, now 15-5, moves into a tie with Troy for second place in the Large School Division, but currently holds the third tie-breaker, which is power points.

Athens closes out the regular season Monday when it hosts North Penn-Mansfield, while Troy plays at division champion Towanda.

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