By: Ed Weaver | NTL Sports | January 13, 2019 | Photo courtesy Ed Weaver
The Athens Lady Wildcats erased a two-game losing streak as they hung on to beat the Wellsboro Lady Hornets, 37-34 on Saturday, January 12.
Both teams started off slow during Saturday afternoon's contest but eventually shots started falling for Athens, giving them an early 4-0 lead. Wellsboro battled back to tie the game up at 4-4 but would trail 9-7 after the first quarter. While Athens started to heat up in the second, the Lady Hornets continued to struggle on the offensive end of the ball.
Athens went on an 11-1 run midway through the quarter to go up 20-8 over Wellsboro before senior Emma Poirier started to take over. Poirer was held scoreless in the first quarter, but she kept at it and eventually found success from the foul line late before the first half ended. A pair of free throws by Poirier got the lead back to 20-10. Next time down the court Poirier was fouled again, hit both shots, and cut the lead to 20-12. A deep two-point shot by Haley Barry pushed the lead back to 10, but a Poirier layup cut the Lady Wildcats' lead to 22-14 as the half ended.
Wellsboro started the second half off with a layup from junior Liza Manning to make it a six point game. After an Athens shot a Poirier three got Wellsboro within 24-20, but that's as far as they would get as the Lady Wildcats held them scoreless the remainder of the quarter and went on a 9-0 run to lead 29-20 after three quarters.
Athens ran the lead to 31-20 early in the fourth before a right-win three, layup, and a pair of foul shots all from junior Cathryn Brought cut the lead to 31-27. Wellsboro kept clawing away at Athens' lead and tied it up at 34-34 on a Poirier layup with under 40 seconds remaining. As the Lady Wildcats were running down the clock to try for the last shot, Barry was fouled sending her to the line for a one-and-one. The Athens junior missed the shot but got her own rebound and passed out to Kayleigh Miller.
Miller was fouled with 7.2 seconds left sending her to the charity stripe. Her first shot was good giving the Lady Wildcats a 35-34 lead. Her second shot missed but again Athens got the rebound to maintain possession and Miller was fouled again with 1.7 seconds. She went 1-of-2 from the line again to put Athens up 36-34.
A Brought pass on the ensuing inbounds play went out of bounds to put the Lady Wildcats back under their basket. Caydence Macik was fouled on the inbound with 0.6 seconds remaining to put her at the line for two shots. Macik went 1-for-2 to make it a three-point game in favor of Athens. Wellsboro called a timeout after the second shot to try and setup on final try to tie the game, but Brought's pass at the end was stolen by Barry to seal the win.
"We came out and played better defense," head coach Maureen Poirier said. "We picked up the intensity on both sides of the ball but we really struggled offensively and it hurt us today. Rebounding was a big difference, we missed some huge rebounds and gave them the opportunity to have a second opportunity and you can't have that when it's a two-point game or a tied game."
Barry led Athens with 13 points on the afternoon and Miller added 9 for the Lady Wildcats.
Poirier led all scorers with 14 points, Brought and Manning both finished with 9 points each and senior Dani Hunt and sophomore Bailey Monks both chipped in with one point each.
Wellsboro started off the afternoon with a 28-25 win in the JV game to improve the Lady Hornets to 4-5. Sophomore Kiyah Boyce led Wellsboro with 9 points and sophomore Sarah Mosher pitched in 6.
The loss drops the Lady Hornets to 5-7 overall and to 5-2 in the NTL Large School Division. The team will be back in action on Tuesday, January 15 as they host Towanda, who took over first place (6-2) in the Large School Division following a 54-38 win over Troy.