By: Ed Weaver | NTL Sports | February 3, 2017
The Wellsboro Varsity Girls Basketball team handed Athens their first NTL loss of the year by knocking them off 49-46 in overtime on Thursday, February 2.
"We haven't had a signature win all season," said head coach John Davis. "We've beat the teams we should have and really didn't pull off many upsets. This is a great team we played tonight, that's why they're ranked (in the state) where they're at. Our girls played hard and they never gave up when we were down big and they fought back. I couldn't be more proud of them."
Both teams played close in the first quarter with the Lady Wildcats hanging onto a one point lead. Athens' Shanell Baglini scored 9 points in the opening quarter for her game-high 19 points, but the Lady Hornets used balanced scoring as they trailed 12-11. Wellsboro took the lead in the second as they outscored Athens 14-5. The Lady Hornets got 6 huge points from senior Janessa Davis and 4 from junior Rachael Tuttle while holding Athens in check to take a 25-17 lead at halftime.
Athens erased Wellsboro's 8-point lead in the third quarter and held the Lady Hornets to just two points from junior Lizzie Poirier. Baglini added 5 more points to her total in the third and Breana Gambrell scored 5 of her 10 points in the quarter. After three quarter of play, the score was tied at 27-27.
Both teams continued to fight through the early part of the fourth quarter, and with 4:43 remaining the score was tied at 31-31. Athens would eventually take the lead, and were up 40-39 with under two minutes remaining until Tuttle made a huge bucket from the low block to put the Lady Hornets up 41-40. Athens' Emily Lunger had a chance to put the Lady Wildcats back in front at the foul line after drawing a foul down low, but she made 1-of-2 from the line to tie the game at 41.
The Lady Hornets had a chance to win the game in regulation, but senior Autum Kitajima was hit with a traveling call as she drove to the basket to send the game to overtime.
"We tried to set up 4-across and get the ball to our point," Davis said of the final moments of regulation. "She (Kitajima) had plenty of time to take it the distance and get a layup or get to the foul line."
Wellsboro came out firing once overtime started. Lizzie Poirier and senior Jessica Grab both hit jump shots near the low block, Kitajima hit a layup driving through the paint then later dished off a pass to Tuttle down low to put Wellsboro up 49-45. Wellsboro's defense stepped up on Athens next possession as they forced Emma Adams to travel to get the ball back.
The Lady Hornets went into their stall offense, and held the ball effectively until roughly 45 seconds remaining. Sophomore Emma Poirier lost control of the ball and when Lunger went for the loose ball, Poirier fouled her to put her back on the line. Lunger hit her first shot to bring the score to 49-46, but missed her second shot attempt. Gambrell grabbed the rebound and dribbled out behind the three point for one final shot to tie the game back up, but the shot attempt at the buzzer came up short giving Wellsboro the win.
"The girls were clutch," Davis continued. "We cycled a lot of players in and out tonight, went with different combinations and they all did very well. It was a great team win."
Baglini led Athens, and all scorers on the night, with 19 points, Lunger finished with 13, and Gambrell had 10.
Lizzie Poirier led Wellsboro with 13 points, 9 of which came in the fourth quarter or overtime. Tuttle had another double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, freshman Cathryn Brought scored 7 off the bench, Kitajima and Davis both had 6, Grab had 4, and Emma Poirier rounded out the scoring with 3.
Lizzie Poirier grabbed 8 rebounds and blocked a shot, Grab and Brought each had 4 rebounds, Davis had 5 steals and an assist, Kitajima had 3 assists, and Tuttle and Emma Poirier had 2 assists.
Wellsboro won the JV game 28-7 to improve the Lady Hornets to 14-6. Freshman Liza Manning score 8 points, sophomore Heidi Zuchowski scored 6, and sophomore Dani Hunt and freshman Chelsea Morris scored 4 points each.
The win improves the Lady Hornets' record to 14-7 (13-2 NTL). Wellsboro currently sits in 2nd place in the Large School Division standings behind Athens (16-2, 12-1) with one game remaining against Troy at home on Tuesday, February 7.
"Troy has been playing really well, they've taken Athens down to the wire every time and we have to come ready to play."