ATHENS' MILLER 'COACH OF YEAR' — MACIK, MILLER REPEAT AS FIRST-TEAM LARGE SCHOOL ALL-STARS

ATHENS' MILLER 'COACH OF YEAR' — MACIK, MILLER REPEAT AS FIRST-TEAM LARGE SCHOOL ALL-STARS

March 21, 2021 Tim Birney

ENS — Athens’ Brian Miller was named the NTL “Coach of the Year” for the second straight season, and his star players — senior Kayleigh Miller and junior Caydence Macik — were voted first-team NTL Large School Division all-stars for the second straight year in voting by the league's coaches.

Senior Megan Collins was a second-team selection.

Towanda sophomore Paige Manchester was named the NTL “Player of the Year,” while NEB’s Maisie Neuber was voted the “Offensive Player of the Year,” Towanda’s Porschia Bennett was tabbed the “Defensive Player of the Year,” and Wyalusing’s Olivia Leichliter was named the “Sixth Man of the Year.”

Miller directed the Lady Wildcats to a 17-7 record in 2021, including a 54-42 win over Milton in the District 4, Class AAAA quarterfinals. The season ended in the semis with a 32-25 loss at Shamokin.

Athens is 39-12 under Miller the last two seasons.

FIRST TEAM
Caydence Macik, junior, Athens:
An athletic low-post player, Macik was a standout on both ends of the floor for the Lady Wildcats.

Macik led Athens at 17.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.8 steals, and 2 blocks per game. She also averaged 2 assists per game.

Kayleigh Miller, senior, Athens: A dead-eye shooter from behind the 3-point arc, Miller graduates fifth all-time on the school’s scoring list with 1,187 points, and first all-time with 222 career 3-pointers.

This season, Miller averaged 17.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 2.3 assists per game. She shot 80 percent from the free-throw line, and 40 percent from the field.

Also named to the first team were Towanda’s Erin Barrett, Wyalusing’s Callie Bennett, Wellsboro’s Emma Coolidge, and Troy’s Sidney Taylor.

SECOND TEAM
Megan Collins, senior, Athens:
A dangerous 3-point shooter, Collins averaged 5 points, 3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game. She made 23 3-pointers on the season, and finished with 60 for her career.

Also named to the second team were Wyalusing’s Catherine Brown and Madison Putnam, Wellsboro’s Bailey Monks Towanda’s Amanda Horton, and Troy’s Rachel Kingsley.

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ATHENS FALLS AT SHAMOKIN IN CLASS 4A SEMIFINALS

ATHENS FALLS AT SHAMOKIN IN CLASS 4A SEMIFINALS

March 8, 2021 Tim Birney

COAL TOWNSHIP — Athens turned in its typical strong defensive effort, but could not buy a ticket in a 32-25 loss to Shamokin here Monday night in the quarterfinals of the District 4, Class AAAA girls basketball playoffs.

“We didn’t shoot the ball that well, and we didn’t rebound on the offensive end,” said Athens coach Brian Miller. “So, if you don’t shoot the basketball well, and you don’t offensive rebounds, it’s tough to win a game like that.”

The Lady Wildcats shot 26 percent (10 of 38) from the field, including a 2-for-15 (13 percent) performance from behind the 3-point arc. The grabbed nine offensive rebounds in the game, but seven were in the first half.

MIller said the physical style of play also favored the Lady Indians.

“The nature of the game, with what the officials allowed … was a physical  game,” said Miller. “When you have two teams that are physical and there are only seven fouls called, that’s a tough team to play against, especially for our team.”

Shamokin was whistled for eight fouls, and Athens was whistled for seven.

Athens took the lead on its first possession of the game on a nice low-post move by junior Caydence Macik, but Shamokin scored the next eight points.

Macik scored on another move in the low blocks with 34 seconds remaining in the first quarter, trimming the deficit to 8-4, and ending an Athens scoring drought that last 7 minutes and 11 seconds.

The Lady Wildcats were held without a field goal in the second quarter, and made just 3 of 7 free throw attempts, but their defense was stellar, limiting Shamokin to just six points in the stanza. The Lady Indians led 14-7 at the half.

“We scored seven points in the first half, and we were still in the game,” said Miller. “We felt like if we had made a couple shots, or cut out a couple of our defensive mistakes, we would have been right there.

“We did some good things, and played well defensively,” added Miller.

Athens cut the lead to two points, at 14-12, with 5:56 remaining in the third quarter on a lay-up by Macik, who moments later drained a 3-pointer from the top-of-the-key.

Shamokin used an 8-3 spurt over the next 3 1/2 minutes to push its lead back to 22-15.

Macik scored a pair of buckets in the final two minutes, sandwiched around a basket by Grace Nazih to trim the Shamokin lead to 24-19 heading into the final eight minutes.

“It seemed like there were several occasions where we would get the lead to two, and then it would be eight,” said Miller. “We’d make a nice run to get it back to three, and they would get it back out to eight. It was frustrating.”

Athens committed a pair of turnover on its first two possession of the fourth quarter, and the Lady Indians turned them into transition buckets by Madison Lippay and Nazih to stretch the lead to 28-19.

“(Shamokin) is too good of a defensive team to give easy baskets, and we’re not going to get those easy baskets, and we didn’t tonight,” said Miller. “Everything we got, we earned.

“When you’re playing a very good defensive team like Shamokin, it’s very tough to come back when you’re down like that,” added Miller.

Senior Hannah Blackman scored a bucket with 6:14 left in the game to make it 28-21. Nearly 3 1/2 minutes later, Macik scored to trim the deficit to 28-23.

Moments later, Nolter scored on a drive to the bucket to push the lead back to seven points, at 30-23, and end Shamokin’s 4-minute and 32-second scoring drought.

Macik led Athens with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Collins added five points, two steals, and two assists, senior Rachel Stephens grabbed five rebounds, sophomore Karlee Bartlow had three boards and two assists, and senior Kayleigh Miller was held scoreless for the first time since her freshman season, dished out two assists.

Athens finishes the season at 17-7.

The Lady Wildcats will graduate four seniors — Miller, Collins, Stephens, and Blackman.

“This was the 100th (varsity) basketball game for these seniors … they were 69-31; that’s pretty good,” said Miller. “For those girls to play that many games in four years is impressive.

“This is a great group of girls. They are good basketball players, and they are good kids.

“The Athens basketball community was truly lucky to watch these fours girls play the last four years,” noted Miller. “They brought exciting basketball to our school and were a pleasure to coach and watch.

“It will be difficult to replace them. It will tough to lose players like that who work hard in practice, and are leaders,” added Miller. “Hopefully, we can find someone to step up, and we can keep the program where it is.”

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ATHENS HOLDS OFF PESKY MILTON, 54-42, IN CLASS AAAA QUARTERFINALS

ATHENS HOLDS OFF PESKY MILTON, 54-42, IN CLASS AAAA QUARTERFINALS

March 4, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens built a 14-point lead early in the third quarter, but on three different occasions over the next 12 minutes needed a “big shot” to stave off a pesky Milton in a 54-42 win here Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the District 4, Class AAAA girls basketball playoffs.

“It was a night where we played really well to get the lead,” said Athens girls coach Brian Miller. “(Milton) is a good team and they battled back, then we responded with big 3s from Kayleigh (Miller) and Megan (Collins), and a nice pass (from Megan Collins to Caydence Macik) for a finish in transition.

“I’m super-proud of the girls, we knew that team was going to battle for 32 minutes, no matter what, and we did a good job,” he added.

Senior Kayleigh Miller had 19 points, four rebounds and two blocked shots, and junior Caydence Macik had 18 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and three blocked shots to lead Athens.

“(Miller and Macik) have been our offensive threats the last two years, and this year especially,” said Miller. “Megan (Collins) hit a couple big shots, but Caydence and Kayleigh have been our offense.

“We’re that much better of a team, though, if the other girls make their shots, and they did tonight,” added Miller.

Senior Megan Collins added nine points on a trio of 3-pointers, and five assists for the Lady Wildcats, while sophomore Karlee Bartlow added five points — all from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, and four rebounds, senior Rachel Stephens grabbed five boards, and senior Hannah Blackman chipped in with four rebounds.

Macik scored Athens’ first two buckets, then Miller gave the Lady Wildcats the lead for good, at 7-4, with a 3-pointer from the top-of-the-key with 5:02 remaining in the first quarter.

Macik added a putback of her own miss to make it 9-5 with 2:35 remaining. After a Milton bucket, Miller buried another 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 12-7 less than a minute later.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Miller late in the quarter extended the Athens lead to 25-12, but Milton scored the only bucket in the final 85 seconds of the first half, and trailed 25-14 heading into the locker room.

Collins buried her second 3-pointer of the game a little more than a minute into the second half, to give Athens a 28-14 lead, but Milton’s physical pressure defense helped it scored eight points in a row to cut the deficit to 38-32 with 4:27 left in the third quarter.

“We wanted to come out in the second half and extend our lead, hopefully close to 20, and the game could be over,” said Miller.

“We got it to 14, then they made a nice push with some physical play in the backcourt,” added Miller. “We turned it over and they made some baskets, but we held our composure, and made some key shots down the stretch.”

Miller stopped Milton’s momentum with a 3-pointer from deep in the corner to make it 31-22 with 3:22 left in the third quarter.

After a bucket by Kiersten Stork trimmed the lead to 31-24, Macik made a pair of free throws, then scored in transition against the Lady Black Panther press to make it 35-24 with 1:12 remaining in the third quarter.

Freshman Emma Bronson connected on a short jumper just 10 seconds into the final stanza to give Athens a 37-26 lead, but a bucket by Stork, followed by a defensive rebound and coast-to-coast drive by Crystal Hamilton, and a jumper by Morgan Riener cut the lead to 37-32 with 6:27 left in the third quarter.

Collins stemmed the tide with a 3-pointer to make it 40-32, but Milton bounced back to cut the lead to 42-36 with 4:16 remaining in the third quarter.

The Milton pressure seemed to be wearing on the Lady Wildcats, but Collins found Macik open up court against the press for an uncontested lay-up to make it 44-36.

A pair of free throws by Miller and Bartlow would push the lead to 48-36 with 3:39 remaining.

Milton would close the gap to nine points twice in the final 3 1/2 minutes but could get no closer.

Hamilton led Milton with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

“I saw (Hamilton) on tape and knew the was good, but seeing her in person you can really appreciate that’s she is a really good ball player,” said Miller. “Unfortunately for her, and fortunately for the Lady Wildcats,  she fouled out, and didn’t get to play the last couple minutes.”

Leah Walter scored eight points for Milton, while Stork added seven, and Reiner chipped in with six.

The third-seeded Lady Wildcats, now 17-6, will travel to second-seeded Shamokin (10-5) Monday at 7 p.m. for a Class AAAA semi-final match-up.

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COACH MILLER NETS 300TH WIN, KAYLEIGH MILLER REGISTERS 200TH CAREER 3-POINTER; ATHENS ROLLS OVER TROY, 53-22

COACH MILLER NETS 300TH WIN, KAYLEIGH MILLER REGISTERS 200TH CAREER 3-POINTER; ATHENS ROLLS OVER TROY, 53-22

February 9, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens shook off a sluggish first half, and outscored Troy, 40-8, in the second half to deliver coach Brian Miller his 300th career victory — a 53-22 decision over Troy — here Tuesday night in NTL Large School girls basketball action.

Miller, who is in his third year at Athens, won 254 games as head coach at Waverly.

“It has been a great journey for the last 19 years,” said Miller. “I have enjoyed coaching young athletes and having so many successful teams at both schools.

“I have made so many friendships over the years with coaches, referees, parents, media, and many more.

“It has been a great ride and I am lucky person,” added Miller.

It was also a milestone night for Coach Miller’s daughter, Kayleigh, who knocked down her 200th (and 201st) career 3-pointer, and is just one away from tying the school record held by Mallory Hafer.

Senior Megan Collins knocked down a 3-pointer and scored five points in the first quarter to help the Lady Wildcats to a 9-5 lead, but the Lady Trojans used a 9-4 seconds-quarter run to take a 14-13 lead into the halftime locker room.

“We missed some shots versus the triangle-and-two in the first half, and looked a little slow,” said Miller. “Maybe the long road trip to Benton was a factor in that.

“We came out with a lot of energy in the second half and used a lot of pressure to create some nice scoring opportunities,” he added.

Kayleigh Miller knocked down her milestone 3-pointer, and was also 3-for-3 from the free-throw line after being fouled on a shot from behind the 3-point arc, and junior Caydence Macik also scored six points in the frame, while Collins buried her second 3-pointer and scored five points to fuel a 19-4 run that gave Athens a commanding 32-18 lead heading into the final eight minutes.

In the fourth quarter, Collins canned a pair of 3-pointers, and Miller once again connected on a 3-pointer and was 3-for-3 after being fouled on a 3-point attempt. The Lady Wildcats outscored Troy, 21-4, in the final stanza.

Collins led Athens with a career-high 16 points, including four 3-pointers on just six shots from behind the arc, while Macik scored 15 points and hauled down nine boards, and Miller, who was held scoreless in the first half, had 12 points and four steals.

Sophomore Karlee Bartlow added four points, five rebounds, and four assists, while freshman Mya Thompson had four points, three boards, and three steals, sophomore Emma Bronson dished out five assists, and senior Rachel Stephens chipped in with five rebounds, and two blocked shots.

Sydney Taylor led Troy with 14 points, and Hannah Zimmerman and Rachel Kingsley added four points apiece.

Athens, now 11-3 overall and 4-2 in NTL Large School divisional play, hosts Wellsboro Thursday.

NOTES: The Athens Lady Wildcats all donned T-shirts prior to the game that read “No One Fights Alone” to honor coach Miller, who is successfully battling cancer. … The girls basketball program raised $1,000 for the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center and donated it in Coach Miller’s name.

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ATHENS RIDES DEFENSE, BALL MOVEMENT IN 50-17 WIN OVER BENTON

ATHENS RIDES DEFENSE, BALL MOVEMENT IN 50-17 WIN OVER BENTON

February 8, 2021 Tim Birney

BENTON — Athens built a double-digit lead in the first half, then blew the game wide-open in the third quarter of a 50-17 rout of Benton here Monday night in non-league girls basketball action.

The Lady Wildcats held to just one field goal in the first quarter, and seven points in the first half.

“We played great defense all night,” said Athens coach Brian Miller.

Athens also had 15 assists on just 20 field goals in the win.

 “We had outstanding ball movement tonight, to get some nice baskets,” said Miller. “We shared the ball very well tonight.”

Senior Kayleigh Miller and junior Caydence Macik combined to score all of Athens’ points in a 13-2 first quarter run.

Athens used an 8-5 spurt in the second quarter to stretch its lead to 21-7.

Miller scored eight points, including a 3-pointer and an old-fashioned three-point play, in the third quarter, while Macik added six points, and seniors Megan Collins and Rachel Stephens chipped in with five and four, respectively, to fuel a 23-6 outburst that extended the Lady Wildcat advantage to 44-13 entering the final eight minutes.

Macik led Athens with 20 points, 10 rebounds, eight steals, five assists, and two blocked shot, and
Miller had 17 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, six steals, five assists, and three rebounds.

Collins added five points, three rebounds, and two assists in the win, while Stephens chipped in with four points, three boards, and one blocked shot, and freshman Mya Thompson recorded eight steals.

Gracey Baker led Benton with eight points.

Athens, now 10-3, hosts Troy Tuesday night.

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TOWANDA RALLIES IN FOURTH QUARTER TO EDGE ATHENS JV, 38-35

TOWANDA RALLIES IN FOURTH QUARTER TO EDGE ATHENS JV, 38-35

February 6, 2021 Tim Birney

TOWANDA — Towanda knocked down a pair of key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to rally for a 38-35 win over Athens here Saturday afternoon in NTL junior varsity girls basketball action.

Karlee Bartlow scored five points and Abby Champion added four points to help Athens an 11-6 lead after the first quarter.

Destiny Brennan and Gracie Schoonover combined for 13 points in the second quarter to fuel a 13-8 spurt that tied the game at 19-19 at the half.

Emma Bronson scored four points in the third quarter in a 9-6 spurt that gave the junior Wildcats a 28-25 lead heading into the final eight minutes.

Brennan and Eliza Fowler each drained 3-pointers, and Bella Hurley made a pair of free throws as Towanda used a 13-7 run to pull out the win.

Bartlow led Athens with 16 points, six boards, four steals, two assists, and one blocked shot, while Bronson had 11 points, five steals, two assists, and one blocked shot, Champion added four points and three rebounds, and Mya Thompson hauled down 14 rebounds, recorded six steals, and blocked two shots.

Brennan led Towanda with 11 points, and Schoonover added 10 points.

Athens returns to action Monday at Benton.

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FOURTH-QUARTER RUN LIFTS TOWANDA TO 43-36 WIN OVER ATHENS

FOURTH-QUARTER RUN LIFTS TOWANDA TO 43-36 WIN OVER ATHENS

February 6, 2021 Chris Manning

Valley Sports Report
TOWANDA — For three quarters, Athens outplayed Towanda, taking a 31-26 lead into the fourth quarter. Then, disaster struck, as they were outscored 19-5 in the final frame to fall to the Knights, 43-36, in NTL girls’ basketball action Saturday.

“They went to that 2-2-1 three-quarters court trap,” explained Athens coach Brian Miller. “They ran that earlier in the game, and we handled it effectively, but we struggled big time with it.

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THOMPSON'S DOUBLE-DOUBLE POWERS ATHENS JV IN WIN OVER WYALUSING

THOMPSON'S DOUBLE-DOUBLE POWERS ATHENS JV IN WIN OVER WYALUSING

February 4, 2021 Tim Birney

WYALUSING — Mya Thompson registered a double-double, and led three scorers in double-figures in Athens’ 45-21 win over Wyalusing here Thursday in NTL junior varsity girls basketball action.

Karlee Bartlow scored seven points in the first quarter, and Emma Bronson added five points, including a 3-pointer, to fuel the junior Wildcats’ 13-0 first-quarter run.

Abby Champion scored five points, including a 3-pointer, and Thomson added four points as Athens stretched its lead to 16 points, at 25-9, heading into the halftime locker room.

Thompson scored eight points in the second half, while Bronson had six points, and Bartlow added four to help Athens extend its lead in both quarters.

Thompson had 13 points, 13 rebounds, six steals, two assists, and two blocked shots to lead Athens, while  Bartlow had 13 points, four steals, and three assists, and Bronson added 12 points, five steals, and two assists.

Champion chipped in with five points, three boards, and one blocked shot in the win, and Izzy Davis grabbed four rebounds.

Athens, now 7-4, returns to action Saturday at Towanda.

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ATHENS FALLS AT WYALUSING ... AGAIN

ATHENS FALLS AT WYALUSING ... AGAIN

February 4, 2021 Chris Manning

LUSING — It just didn’t seem like it was going to be Athens’ night in Wyalusing.

The Wildcats missed three practices this week, their bus was late getting them there, and much of the game was looking like deja vu from a year ago when the Rams upset them to send the NTL title to Towanda.

And it ended up a lot like last year’s game as Wyalusing won 31-28 in NTL Division-I girls’ basketball action Thursday.

Both teams were sloppy, and struggled with shots they normally see go in the hoop. Athens’ also turned the ball over 16 times as Wyalusing focused on stopping Kayleigh Miller and Caydence Macik.

“A lot of things hurt us tonight,” said Athens coach Brian Miller. “We looked lethargic at times after three days off … the bus got us here late and refs wouldn’t give us additional time to warm up — that’s unacceptable in my book. It’s about the players, not the refs.”

For much of the game, Wyalusing was content to milk the clock when they had the ball, making each possession count that much more, and making each turnover or missed basket hurt much worse.

“We made some bad passes and missed some basketball we normally make,” said Miller. “The nature of play favored Wyalusing. When we shoot four foul shots on the night, and they only commit two fouls in the first half …”

Macik and Miller both finished with 12 points. Miller added four boards, two steals and three assists, and Macik chipped in with five boards.

Miller shot the ball well, as she was 3 of 4 on 2-pointers and 2-for-4 from deep, but Wyalusing’s Hailey Jayne stuck to her most of the night, making it difficult to get her shot off.

And whenever Macik got the ball in the post, the Rams doubled her, forcing her into six turnovers.

Karlee Bartlow and Megan Collins had two points apiece. Collins also grabbed four rebounds, while Hannah Blackman had eight boards and two steals, and Rachel Stephens nabbed eight rebounds.

Madison Putnam had 11 points to lead Wyalusing, and Callie Bennett finished with eight. Catherine Brown scored six, Layla Botts netted four, and Jayne finished with two points.

The two teams opened the game by trading buckets. A Miller 3-ball gave Athens a 5-2 lead, an advantage they held until the 4:18 mark of the first quarter when Putnam scored on a driving lay-up. She missed the and-1, but it put Wyalusing 6-5.

A Brown bucket two minutes later saw the Rams lead increase to 8-5. A Collins jumper cut it to 8-7 but Wyalusing went on a 4-0 run in the last minute as Botts hit a lay-up, followed by Putnam draining two free throws with 1.9 seconds left in the quarter, extending Wyalusing’s lead to 12-7.

That lead evaporated quickly, as a Miller 3-ball and Bartlow jumper tied things up at 12-12 less than three minutes into the second quarter.

The Rams answered with back-to-back lay-ups from Putnam and Bennett, giving them a 16-12 lead.

Miller followed with a jumper, but a Putnam 3-point play — this time she hit the free throw after making the lay-up — saw the Rams keep Athens at arm’s length, taking a 19-14 lead.

Then, in the final three minutes, Athens went on a 5-0 run. Miller found Macik for a lay-up, then Macik got her own lay-up and foul combination to make it 19-all at the half.

Only six points total were scored in the third as the defenses settled in. Wyalusing continued to keep Macik and Miller from having clean looks, while on the other end, the Rams were patient, but struggled to penetrate Athens’ defense.

A Brown jumper at the 6:30 mark put the Rams up 21-19, but a Macik jumper with 4:35 left tied things back up again.

Then, with under a minute to go, Jayne hit a long jump shot to once again break the tie, giving the Rams a 23-21 lead going into the final stanza.

After a scoreless first two minutes, Miller tied things up with a runner for Athens. That was followed by Macik going 1 of 2 from the free throw line, giving the Wildcats their first lead since early in the first quarter.

It was short-lived as Bennett came alive for the Rams, scoring back-to-back lay-ups, the second with 1:30 left in the game, to put Wyalusing up 27-24.

On Athens’ ensuing possession, Macik hit a lay-up and was fouled, but missed the freebie, allowing the Rams to stay up 27-26.

The two teams traded turnovers as game went under a minute before Brown was fouled on a lay-up attempt. She hit both free throws to make it 29-26.

The two teams traded turnovers again before Miller hit another runner to cut it to 29-28 with 22 seconds left on the clock.

Taking the ball out on the side after an Athens foul, Jayne hit a streaking Bennett, who got behind the defense, for a lay-up, plus a foul. Bennett missed the free throw, giving Athens hope of a tying 3-pointer with 17.4 seconds to play.

On Athens’ final possession they tried to get Miller an open shot, but the Rams hounded her, at one point triple-teaming her. She finally got a shot off, but it was blocked. The Rams recovered the ball and watched time tick off the clock.

Miller was incensed at the officiating on their final possession.

“Three fouls on our last possession and nothing was called,” he said.

The loss drops Athens (7-1) behind Towanda (7-0) in the NTL Division-I standings with the two teams slated to meet in the first of two contests on Saturday with a 1:30 p.m. sta

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MILLER NETS 1,000TH CAREER POINT IN 56-13 WIN OVER COWANESQUE VALLEY

MILLER NETS 1,000TH CAREER POINT IN 56-13 WIN OVER COWANESQUE VALLEY

January 29, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — It was quite a day for Kayleigh Miller. In a two-hour span, the Athens senior signed her National Letter-of-Intent to play at Penn College, then scored her 1,000th career point in the Lady Wildcats’ 56-13 win over Cowanesque Valley here Friday.

Miller, who scored 13 points in the win, is currently second all-time in school history in 3-pointers made. Appropriately enough, a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter pit her over the 1,000-point plateau, and that fact wasn’t lost on her coach-father Brian Miller.

“The 3-pointer has been her forte since she was a little freshman, out there playing for coach (Kelly) Burkhart and making 3s, supporting Emily Lunger and Kara Chapman. She would always step up and hit the big 3 to help the team.

“Four years later, she’s become a complete player,” said Miller. “Her forte is being a shooter, and knocking down 3-pointers; it was nice for her to get her 1,000th point with a 3-pointer.”

Kayleigh Miller became the seventh girls in school history to eclipse 1,000 points, following in the footsteps of Jennifer Nichols (1,528 points), Maryellen Onofre (1.512), Emily Lunger (1,270), Taylor Clark (1,256), Michelle Shaffer (1,143), and Kelly McCarty (1,022).

Brian Miller was pleased with the Lady Wildcats’ team play.

“I thought we shared the ball very well,” he said. “(CV) played man-to-man defense, and we ran our sets.

“They were playing physical, and we found some nice offensive flow, and had some nice passes, especially to Caydence (Macik) finishing around the basket,” added Miller.

Of course, defense was once again the cornerstone in the win as Athens allowed just one field goal in the first half.

“I thought we played great defensively,” said Miller. “We contested every shot … we didn’t give them many good looks at all.

“I thought we played 32 good minutes of defense. That’s what we were focusing on … we wanted to look good to get ready for Tuesday night’s game,” added Miller in reference to his Lady Wildcats’ showdown with unbeaten Towanda.

Miller scored five points in the opening stanza, and junior Caydence Macik and senior Megan Collins added four points apiece as Athens raced out to a 15-2 lead.

Macik pumped in 11 points in the second quarter, and sophomore Karlee Bartlow added four points to fuel a 19-0 blitz that pushed the Lady Wildcat advantage to 34-2 at the half.

Macik, who was 9 of 11 from the field, led Athens with 24 points and one blocked shot, while Bartlow added seven points, two assists, and one blocked shot, and Collins chipped in with six points and three assists.

Miller also had five assists, two steals, and a blocked shot in the win, while seniors Rachel Stephens and Hannah Blackman each had three rebounds and two assists.

Renee Abbott led CV with six points.

Athens, now 9-1, travels to face Towanda (7-0) Tuesday.

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DEFENSE, BARTLOW DRIVE ATHENS JV IN WIN OVER COWANESQUE VALLEY

DEFENSE, BARTLOW DRIVE ATHENS JV IN WIN OVER COWANESQUE VALLEY

January 29, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — The Athens defense shut down Cowanesque Valley, and Karlee Bartlow provided more than enough offense in a 28-5 win here Friday night in NTL junior varsity girls basketball action.

Bartlow scored four points in the first quarter to help the junior Wildcats to an 8-0 lead. She pumped in 10 points in the second quarter, including a 3-pointer and an old-fashioned three-point play, to fuel a 10-3 run that pushed the lead to 18-3 at the half.

Bartlow scored five more points in the third quarter as Athens extended its lead to 25-5 entering the final eight minutes.

Bartlow had 19 points and three steals to lead Athens, while Abby Champion added four points and four rebounds, Mya Thompson had five rebounds, three steals, and one blocked shot, and Emma Bronson registered three steals and two assists.

Athens, now 6-4, returns to action Tuesday at Towanda.

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MILLER SIGNS LETTER-OF-INTENT TO PLAY BASKETBALL AT PENN COLLEGE

MILLER SIGNS LETTER-OF-INTENT TO PLAY BASKETBALL AT PENN COLLEGE

January 29, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens senior Kayleigh Miller had plenty of options on where to play her four years of college basketball, but Pennsylvania College of Technology “felt like the right fit.”

Miller, with friends and family watching, signed her National Letter-of-Intent to attend Penn College Friday afternoon in a brief ceremony at the Athens Area High School.

Also in Miller’s top three were Susquehanna University and Welles College, but Penn College ultimately won out.

“I visited a lot of colleges that were interested in me, but Penn Tech just felt right,” said Kayleigh Miller. “I just loved coach Brittany (Mohney) and coach Travis (Heap).

“I was there a little before Thanksgiving, and I was able to watch a practice. The players all seemed connected, and were there for each other,” she noted.

“They all loved the coaches, and I thought I could be a good fit there, too,” added Miller. “It really felt like a family.”

Miller said the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the recruiting process.

“It was difficult. Normally, I would have been able to go for an overnight visit, watch a game, and stay with the team, but their season was canceled, so I wasn’t able to see experience that.

“And, I really couldn’t get a feel for campus life. I walked around the campus, but there weren’t very many students there,” she said. “Yeah, I think Covid had an impact on the process, but Penn Tech still felt right.”

Another factor for Miller was Penn College’s proximity. Being located in Williamsport, it’s less than 90 minutes from the Valley.

“Being closer to home had a huge impact on my decision,” said Miller. “I want my friends and family to be able to come and watch me play at Penn Tech.”

Miller said she could see some playing time as a freshman for the Lady Wildcats.

“They didn’t guarantee anything, but said as long as I work hard and have a good attitude that anybody can get on the floor.”

Kayleigh Miller, a four-year starter for the Athens Lady Wildcats, played the final three years of her varsity career for her father — Brian Miller.

Coach Miller fought back some emotions during the ceremony.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “Seeing her grow up with the game … coming in as a fourth-grader, going to the Pink ‘Cats, the Waverly Basketball camps, then playing junior high, and AAUs, and playing for coach (Kelly) Burkhart, and then for me, and soon on to college.

“And seeing how hard she worked,” noted Brian Miller. “Nothing was given to her … she really had to work to be a good basketball player. She’s not the type of athlete that it comes naturally to … she’s worked at it, and watched and learned from other girls.

“She’s come a long way from a little twerp in fourth grade.

“I’m proud of her as a Dad, and as a coach, it’s the same thing,” he continued. “You see a player come in, and they want to live their dream and play college basketball at any level, that’s great.

“It takes a special person to make the type of commitment you need to play in college,” added Brian Miller.

Coach Miller believes Kayleigh will be successful at the next level.

“She’s a great shooter, and she really shares the ball well,” he said. “She’s a systems-type girl, so hopefully, Penn College has a system.

“She’ll fit in there, shooting the jump shot, sharing the ball with her teammates, and working hard every day in practice — you’re only as good as how hard you work in practice,” noted Miller. “Kayleigh loves the game of basketball, and she loves to come to practice, and work hard every day in practice.

“(Penn Tech) is getting a player that wants to make her self better, and the team better,” he added. “She’s going to be an asset to the program.”

Coach Miller admits she still has work to do to be ready for next level.

“She probably needs to work on her speed and quickness,” he said. “When you get to the next level, everybody is fast, quick, and stronger. This summer, she’s going to hit the weight room and try to make herself bigger, stronger, and faster.

“And, she’ll need to fine-tune all her skills — ball-handling, driving to the basket, increasing her range as a jump shooter,” he added.

Kayleigh Miller also knows she has things to work on.

“I definitely need to work on driving to the basket, and drawing contact so I can get to the foul line,” she said. “Also, I’ll keep working on my outside shot because they need outside shooters. I need to make sure I can knock down the 3-point shot when I’m open.”

Kayleigh Miller said she’s like to stay involved in sports in the future.

“Right now, I’m planning on majoring in Marketing, with video editing skills for digital marketing,” she said. “I’d really like to work with sports, and edit highlight reels.”

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ATHENS ROLLS OVER NORTH PENN-LIBERTY, 62-16

ATHENS ROLLS OVER NORTH PENN-LIBERTY, 62-16

January 27, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens used a 35-3 blitz over the middle two quarters to forge a 62-16 rout of North Penn-Liberty here Wednesday night in NTL girls basketball action.

Senior Kayleigh Miller got off to a hot start, canning four 3-pointers in the first half en route to 16 points before the intermission.

“We moved the ball around great tonight setting up each other for a good offensive night,” said Athens coach Brian Miller. “And, Kayleigh shot the ball great tonight from the perimeter.”

Miller scored eight points in the first quarter to help the Lady Wildcats to an 11-8 lead.

She added two more 3-pointers, and eight more points in the second quarter, and senior Megan Collins buried a 3-pointer and scored five points to fuel a 19-1 Athens outburst that upped the lead to 30-9 at the halftime break.

Junior Caydence Macik took over in the third quarter, scoring eight points in a 16-2 run that pushed the Lady Wildcat lead to 46-11 entering the final eight minutes.

Sophomore Karlee Bartlow scored five points in the fourth quarter, and senior Rachel Stephens added four points in a 16-5 game-ending run for the Lady Wildcats.

Miller led Athens with 23 points, including five 3-pointers, five assists, and four rebounds. She made 9 of 17 shots from the field, including 5 of 9 from behind the 3-point arc.

Macik had 13 points, four rebounds, four steals, and four blocked shots in the win, while Collins added eight points, including a pair of treys on just two shots from behind the arc, three steals, and three assists, and Stephens added four points and four rebounds.

Sophomore Natalee Watson chipped in with four points and three rebounds, while freshman Mya Thompson and senior Hannah Blackman collected four and three rebounds, respectively.

Kiersten Mistifer and Jaclyn Nelson led NP-L with five points apiece.

Athens, now 8-1, hosts Cowanesque Valley Friday.

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ATHENS JVs TOP NP-LIBERTY, 43-19; IMPROVE TO 5-4

ATHENS JVs TOP NP-LIBERTY, 43-19; IMPROVE TO 5-4

January 27, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens jumped out to an early lead, and pulled away for a 43-19 win over North Penn-Liberty here Wednesday night in NTL junior varsity girls basketball action.

Emma Bronson knocked down a 3-pointer and scored five points in the first quarter, and Karlee Bartlow added four points to help Athens to an 11-4 lead after the first eight minutes.

Bartlow scored four more points in a defensive-minded second quarter that saw the junior Lady Wildcats outscore NP-L, 6-3, to up their advantage to 17-7 at the half.

Bartlow scored six points and Mya Thompson added four points in a 14-6 run that stretched the Athens lead to 31-13 entering the final eight minutes.

Bartlow led Athens with 14 points and four rebounds, while Thompson had eight points, 16 rebounds, six steals, three blocked shots, and two assists, and Bronson added seven points, six steals, and two blocked shots

Aislynn Thomas chipped in with four points in the win, while Izzy Davis grabbed four rebounds, and Amber Galvin had two assists.

Darby Stetter and Mackenzie Broughton led NP-L with four points apiece.

Athens, now 5-4, hosts Cowanesque Valley Friday.

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ATHENS LETS BIG LEAD SLIP AWAY; RE-GROUPS TO EDGE SULLIVAN COUNTY IN DOUBLE-OT

ATHENS LETS BIG LEAD SLIP AWAY; RE-GROUPS TO EDGE SULLIVAN COUNTY IN DOUBLE-OT

January 25, 2021 Tim Birney

ATHENS — Athens let a 14-point third-quarter slip away, and twice needed points in the final seconds to force extra play on its way to a double-overtime, 60-58, win over Sullivan County here Monday night in non-league girls basketball action.

“We had our backs against the wall at the end of the first quarter, and we had our backs against the wall at the end of the first overtime, and we made plays on offense and defense to tie the game,” said Athens coach Brian Miller.

“Then, we made plays early in the second overtime to get the lead, and we were able to hold on to the lead,” he noted.

“It showed some guts and determination,” added Miller. “It’s good to play a game like that … to have to execute down the stretch to win those close games.”

The Wildcats also beat Northeast Bradford in double-overtime to open the season.

“And, we’re undefeated in double-overtime games, so that’s good,” laughed Miller.

Athens built a 14-point lead midway through the third quarter, but foul trouble took its toll.

“We turned the ball over a lot in the full-court, and in the half,” said Miller. “They were pressuring our guards all over the place, so we couldn’t enter the ball into the post, or run our offense, and we had some silly turnovers.

“The most disappointing part was we built the lead to 14 points in the third quarter, then we had a couple girls get in foul trouble,” he noted. “We made some really silly mistakes, and the next thing you know it’s a ball game in the fourth quarter.

“We had some really uncharacteristic turnovers in the half-court set, and in the full-court,” added Miller.

Sullivan County closed the third quarter with a 9-0 run to trim the deficit to 40-33 entering the final eight minutes.

The Lady Griffins eventually took the lead, and were up two in the closing seconds when junior Caydence Macik — who scored 18 of Athens’ 21 second-half points, including all eight in the fourth quarter, rebounded an Athens missed and scored on the putback with 2 seconds remaining to tie the game at 48-48 and send the game into overtime.

Sullivan County took the lead early in the extra session with four straight points, but Athens tied the game on a pair of free throws by senior Kayleigh Miller with 15 seconds remaining.

The Lady Wildcat defense then held Sullivan County without a shot in the closing seconds.

In the second overtime period, Macik drained a pair of free throws to give Athens a 58-56, then added a bucket with 40 seconds remaining to up the lead to 60-56.

“This is a good win for us,” said Miller. “The girls played hard, and overcame some adversity. This will help us in the long run.”

Miller, who was limited to just four free throws after the intermission in part due to foul trouble, knocked down a 3-pointer and scored seven points in the opening stanza to help the Lady Wildcats to a 9-7 lead.

Macik scored eight points in the second quarter, while Miller added five, including her second 3-pointer, and senior Megan Collins buried a trey in the Lady ‘Cats’ 18-13 run that pushed the lead to 27-20 at the break.

Macik scored 10 points, and Collins was 3-for-3 from the line after being fouled on a shot from behind the arc as Athens stretched its lead to 40-26 with 2 1/2 remaining in the third quarter.

Macik, who made 15 of 22 shots from the field, led Athens with a career-high 34 points, to go along with 11 rebounds, four assists,  two steals, and one blocked shot, while Miller had 16 points, eight rebounds, and five assists,

Collins had six points and four boards in the win, while sophomore Karlee Bartlow chipped in with four points, five assists, and two steals, and senior Hannah Blackman grabbed four rebounds.

Sophia Springman led Sullivan County with 22 points, and Bethany Beinlich and Kassidy Beinlich added 12 points apiece.

Athens was 11 of 13 from the free-throw line in the contest, while Sullivan County was 13 of 29.

Athens, now 7-1, hosts North Penn-Liberty Wednesday.

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