Wellsboro knew they would see a 1-2-2 zone from Athens Friday night. The Wildcats’ length makes it pretty tough to score against, too. But, the Athens defense simply couldn’t find Peyton McClure.
McClure hit seven threes on just eleven attempts as Wellsboro secured a huge NTL large school win and handed Athens their first league loss with a score of 62-49 at the Hornets’ Nest Friday evening.
Athens, playing without a starter in Nalen Carling, got out to a quick 5-0 lead on a basket by Chris Matthews and a three by JJ Babcock from the top of the arc. But, that was tied for their biggest lead of the night and Wellsboro quickly chipped away as three straight buckets inside by Manning and two Cameron Brought free throws helped Wellsboro tie the game up at eight.
Wellsboro got its first lead of the game at 11-8 midway through the first quarter as Conner Adams knocked down a trey, and he knocked down another one after Athens scored six straight to tie it up at 14-14.
McClure hit his first three with seventeen seconds remaining in the quarter to put Wellsboro up three, but a nifty post move by Troy Pritchard scored a basket and drew a foul with four seconds left. He made the ensuing foul shot and it was tied, 17-17, after the first quarter.
Five straight Athens points to start the 2nd quarter, highlighted by baskets from Lister and Pritchard, gave them a 22-17 lead.
But, Wellsboro scored a quick five on another McClure three and a Callahan mid-range jumper, to tie it up again at 22. A few minutes later, another McClure three found nothing but nylon and Wellsboro went up 26-24 late in the 2nd quarter.
A foul shot by Mitchell and a basket by Kason Keathley put Athens back up by one at halftime.
The third quarter belonged to McClure and his teammates as he hit the first of his four three pointers in the quarter to open the scoring and give Wellsboro the lead. After an Athens basket,his second three of the quarter on the next Hornet possession gave Wellsboro a 32-29 lead, which they would never relinquish.
The Wildcat zone was looking for him, but McClure seemed to slip away at just the right times in that third quarter to give him a little space to knock a shot down.
Both teams underwent a nearly three-minute scoring drought to open up the fourth quarter before Hayes Campbell scored for Wellsboro to put them up nine with five minutes remaining.
Though a frustrating end result, Athens played hard and looked great at times on the road against one of the league’s top teams, and all of their goals are still in front of them.
The senior Babcock shined and reminded many why he is considered one of the league’s top players. Chris Matthews stepped in admirably for the missing Carling, and on a different night when Wellsboro was not so hot from deep, it could easily have been Athens coming out with the victory.
“We will learn from it. We’ve bounce back, get back in the gym, start working and get ready for Troy on Monday night,” Athens coach Jim Lister said.
For Athens, Babcock led them with 18, Mitchell had 10, Pritchard had 8, Mason Lister had 5, and Tucker Brown and Keathly had 4 apiece
For Wellsboro, McClure had 21, Manning and Adams had 12 apiece, Callahan had 8, Campbell had 6, and Brought had 3.