Down to the wire: Local teams gear up for league title, playoff runs
As January moves into February that means local basketball teams will be eyeing the standings even more closely.
Local league and division races are getting down to the nitty gritty. Most local teams are going through the second half of their league and division schedules.
On the boy's side Notre Dame can clinch their title with a win over Watkins Glen this week while down South Sullivan County needs a win over St. John Neumann on Saturday to keep their title hopes alive.
In the NTL Wellsboro has all but sewn up the West while the East race looks to be coming down to Athens and Towanda with Canton and Sayre lurking in the shadows.
On the girl's side Waverly continues to lead Notre Dame by one game while Tioga remains in the thick of their title repeat.
In the NTL East it's deja vu as Sayre, Athens and Wyalusing are all tied at the top with one loss each. Out West it's no different with Williamson and Wellsboro tied at the top with one loss while Mansfield is right behind with two.
GIRL'S PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Lori Horton, Williamson
Horton has been a double-double machine all season but this past week she kicked it up a notch, averaging a triple-double of 20 points, 26 rebounds and 10 blocks.
In the Warriors win over Galeton Horton had 20 points, 29 boards and 10 blocks while in a victory over North Penn she had 20 points, 23 boards and 10 blocks.
Horton play, along of that of her teammate Kim Daugherty, as helped Williamson survive a rash injuries this season.
BOY'S PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Bailey Potter, Towanda
It's rare that sub ends up here but Potter's contribution in the second half against Sayre helped keep Towanda's NTL title hopes alive.
Down at the half 27-21 to the Redskins Potter came off the bench for the first time in the second half to score 14 points, nine in the fourth quarter, to help Towanda rally for the 50-49 win. Potter hit four threes in all to keep the Knights tied in the loss column with defending champions Athens.
GIRL'S TEAM OF THE WEEK
North Rome Christian School
North Rome won the Central Baptist Tournament.
In the opening round game they beat Cornerstone 44-10 and in the final beat the hosts 45-24.
Cristen Mosier was named the tournament MVP, averaging a double-double of 22 points and 12 boards. Sarah Malkemes and Olivia Noone were also named to the All-Star team.
BOY'S TEAM OF THE WEEK
It was a big win for the Warriors for two reasons.
First, they gave Athens their first league loss since 2011.
Second, they qualified for districts for the first time since 2001.
In their win over Athens Eddie Larcom scored 29 points, including five threes, while teammate Emmett Watson added 25 points. Up 25-22 at the half Canton would out score the Wildcats 39-23 in the second half for the win.
Then in their victory over Wyalusing Eddie Larcom went for 21 with Watson finishing with 20. Jesse Lattimer and Mason Moore chipped in with eight points each.
That win solidified their district berth.
In the NTL East Athens and Towanda are tied in the loss column with one each while Canton has two and Sayre three.
Canton will play Towanda this Wednesday but the picture should get clearer next week when Towanda and Athens meet again.
In the NTL West Wellsboro has all but won the league, needing a win over Mansfield at home to repeat as champions.
In the IAC Large School South a Notre Dame win at Watkins Glen Friday pretty much guarantees them the division title as they will be two games. However, a loss puts them in a tie with the Crusaders still having to travel to Waverly for the last game in the regular season.
Down South Sullivan County needs a win over St. John Neumann on Saturday to tie up the league standings. A loss and they would be two games back. Sullivan will also have to face a tough Bloomsburg team later in the season.
The NTL East looks the same as last season with Athens, Sayre and Wyalusing all atop the standings with one loss each.
This should get clearer this week as the Rams travel to Athens Tuesday then welcome Sayre on Thursday.
In the NTL West Wellsboro and Williamson have one loss each while Mansfield is one game back with two.
The Tigers can make up ground quickly this week as they travel to Wellsboro on Tuesday and host Williamson Thursday. A loss in either game would likely push them out of the race.
Also, don't count out a tough Cowanesque Valley squad that is playing for their playoff lives. They will travel to Williamson Tuesday then host the Hornets Thursday.
In the IAC Large School South it looks like it will come down to Notre Dame and Waverly on the last day of the season. If they win out the Crusaders will have to beat the Wolverines at home to force a playoff or else Waverly wins out right.
Tioga and Newfield are running neck and neck for the Small School South title.
For Class A the winner of the Heartland Conference Division III title will likely have the overall top seed for the District IV playoffs.
Regardless, it looks like St. John Neumann and Sullivan County will be the top two followed by Muncy, Lourdes, Sayre and Mansfield as the other qualifiers.
Galeton should also have a shot at getting in as they have been around .500 all season.
In Class AA Wellsboro has a good chance at getting the top seed while Towanda and Canton have qualified from the NTL.
At 7-8 Williamson also has a chance to make it if they finish strong.
Down south Lewisburg and Loyalsock are two of the top teams in Class AA while East Juniata has also qualified. Bloomsburg, Hughesville, Line Mountain and Mt. Carmel are also teams with a shot to make it.
Troy at 5-9 would need a big win streak to sneak into the playoffs.
In Class AAA Danville, Athens and Milton are the top three seeds at this point. Jersey Shore, Mifflinburg and Shikellamy are also on track for district berths.
In Class A Sayre is in a battle with Lourdes for the top two spots while in the NTL East Northeast Bradford has qualified.
In the NTL West Mansfield is one win shy of the magic number and should get it. Independent Galeton has already punched their ticket for the playoffs.
Benton, St. John Neumann and East Juniata are all on pace to make districts.
On the bubble is Cowanesque Valley. Sitting at 7-10 they need to score a few upsets but it isn't out of the realm of possibility.
Other bubble teams include Millville, Bucktail and Montgomery.
The field for Class AA is looking impressive already.
In the NTL Wyalusing and Williamson have already clinched playoff berths while down South Montoursville, Southern Columbia, Lewisburg, Mt. Carmel and Muncy are also in.
Warrior Run is also on track to qualify.
In the NTL Wellsboro is close at 8-9. Three more wins and they hit the magic number. At 5-9 Towanda is still alive but needs to get hot down the stretch.
Outside the NTL Central Columbia has an outside shot as well.
In Class AAA Athens looks to be the top seed right by virtue of their win over Danville Saturday. Both teams came into the week with the same record and tied a top the class standings.
Shikellamy, Shamokin, Jersey Shore and Milton are all on path to qualify while Selinsgrove has a chance as well.
GAMES OF THE WEEK
Tuesday, January 29
Wyalusing at Athens, 7:30 p.m.
The Wildcats won the first match 58-41 down at Wyalusing.
After their loss to Sayre they have rattled off four straight wins, including wins over Northeast Bradford and Danville.
Danielle Stopper seems to have found her groove, averaging 10 points a game over the last four while Christin Dunkling (15.5 ppg) and Monica Dougherty (11.0) work their inside-outside game.
After a loss to Tioga the Rams have won their last two.
Their big three of Kasey DeVoir (11.4), Mackenzie Martin (15.9) and Arielle Kneller (8.9) continue to lead the team.
In their last meeting it was Kneller who went off for 15 points but Athens held DeVoir and Martin to a combined 12 points.
Athens got 37 points from the Dunkling-Dougherty duo in the game.
Mansfield at Wellsboro, 7:30 p.m.
The Hornets edged out a 51-50 win in their first meeting.
Mackenzie Marple had a season best 29 points to lead the effort. On the season she's averaging 17.0.
The Hornets are 2-1 in their last three games, including a win over Williamson, a loss to Wyalusing and rally past Liberty. Kim Acorn has improved her play, averaing 8.7 over the last three games.
Mansfield continues to be led by their trio of seniors: Molly Wood (13.7), Emily James (12.7) and Jackie Hillson (9.4). After back to back losses to Wellsboro and Williamson the Tigers have gone 3-0.
In their last meeting Hillson annd Wood combined for 30.
Thursday, January 31
Sayre at Wyalusing, 7:30 p.m.
The Rams took the first meeting 42-34 (well, technically their second game as Sayre beat them in the Waverly tournament 44-36).
This will be the rubber match.
In the win for Sayre their three guards of Mollie Robinson, Kelly Villanti and Elyse Skerpon combined for 33 points. In the loss they were held for 16.
For Wyalusing in their win over Sayre Martin had 13 while Kneller scored eight with Kneller held to six and Martin to 10 in the loss.
Back to back losses for the Rams would end their bid for a repeat title.
Wellsboro at Cowanesque Valley, 7:30 p.m.
The Indians can only afford one more loss this season and they take on Williamson earlier in the week, which means this will likely be a must have game.
CV lost their first meeting 43-28 as Marple went for 16.
The Indians have gone 2-2 in their last four, being led by Hayley Painter (11.6) and Grace Earle (10.7).
Wednesday, Jaunary 30
Mansfield at Wellsboro, 7:30 p.m.
The Hornets can clinch the NTL West with a win.
They've looked unbeatable recently with three players in double figures: Jordan Jackson (15.2), Michael Pietropola (11.2) and Joey Doganiero (11.2).
In the last meeting they beat Mansfield 71-35.
The Tigers are hoping to do better, led by Taylor Hillson (16.3) while Bo Burleigh has come on strong the second half of the season. Burleigh is averaging 12.1 ppg over the last seven games.
Friday, February 1
Notre Dame at Watkins Glen, 7:30 p.m.
This game should decide the IAC Large School South Division title. The Senecas are one game back of the Crusaders, who are undefeated in the division.
Notre Dame is coming off their first loss of the season 56-55 to Athens but Darius Garvin continues to play well, averaving 21.3 over the last six games.
In their first meeting the Crusaders won 57-50 behind 19 from Garvin, 10 from Hunter Thomas and nine from Nate Niles.
Watkins is coming off a big win over Waverly.
Canton at Towanda, 7:30 p.m.
The Warriors need this win to stay in the NTL East title hunt.
The Black Knights won their first meeting 59-51.
Dave Rodenhizer scored 21 to lead Towanda while Noah Huff added 11. Lij Griffin came off the bench for eight.
For Canton Eddie Larcom only had two, a season low while Emmett Watson scored 18 and Wes Moore netted 10.
Right now Larcom is on fire, averaging 21 points a game since that 2-point effort. Watson is shooting well, too at 16.8 the last five games.
The Knights are coming off a big win over Sayre with Rodenhizer and Huff combining to average 28 points a game over the last four.
Saturday, February 2
Sullivan County at St. John Neumann, 7:30 p.m.
Neumann is 15-0 on the season and 9-0 in the division.
In their last meeting Neumann's Alize Johnson exploded for six threes while Neumann's guards Jordan Cole and Richard Allen found seams in the second half to stay ahead of Sullivan County.
The Griffins got a big effort out of their big men that game as Conner Wylie and Derek Wilkins combined for 36 points in the 67-56 loss.
Kelby Mullen (14.3) is the leader of the Sullivan and how he goes usually does the team. If he has a big night anything is possible.