Valley Sports Report
LERAYSVILLE — Senior Haley Barry and sophomore Caydence Macik, who had a career game, scored buckets early in overtime to give Athens the lead, then Macik and senior Kassidy Peterson combined to make 7 of 8 free throws to lift the Lady Wildcats to a 54-49 win over Northeast Bradford here Thursday night in the semifinals of the NTL Showdown.
“It’s a great win for us,” said Athens coach Brian Miller. “(NEB) is 19-3, they are a very good basketball team.
“We just happened to pull ahead at the right time, then made our free throws to keep the lead.
“To beat them twice at home this season is an accomplishment,” added Miller. “I’m very proud of the girls.”
The Lady Panthers led 33-31 after three quarters, and Lauryn Jones knocked down a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to five points, but Athens junior Kayleigh Miller answered with a 3-pointer.
“That was a huge shot to stop their momentum,” said Miller.
The Lady Wildcats tied the game with 2 minutes remaining on a bucket by Macik, then came up with a defensive stop.
They milked the last 90 seconds off the clock in an attempt to take the last shot, but never got a shot off and the game went to overtime.
Barry and Macik scored in the opening minute of overtime to give Athens a 47-43 lead. Macik was 4-for-4 from the line in the final two minutes of overtime, and Peterson was 3-for-4 to nail down the win.
“We were a little dejected because we wanted the last shot of the game, but I was super-proud of the way the girls responded,” said Miller. “We came right out in overtime, and scored a couple of baskets … we had the lead and (NEB) had to foul us.
“After Rachel (Stephens) fouled out, Kassidy Peterson came in the game, and they started fouling her, but she stepped up and made 3 of 4 foul shots,” added Miller. “And, Caydence was clutch, too.”
NEB led 13-8 after the first quarter, but Macik scored five points in the second quarter, and Miller and junior Megan Collins each knocked down 3-pointers in a 15-6 run that gave the Lady Wildcats a 23-19 lead at the half.
Jones scored eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, in the third quarter to fuel a 14-8 spurt that gave NEB a 33-31 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
Miller said defense was one of the keys in the win.
“I thought we played really good team defense.
“Avery (Priester) did a nice job forcing Lauryn Jones into a lot of tough shots, and we did a really good job of keeping Maisie (Neuber) from getting to the bucket and keeping her off the boards,” said.
“And, we did a really good job of limiting their transition,” added Miller. “It was a collective defensive effort.”
Another key was the play of Macik, who had a career-high 27 points, to go along with 13 rebounds, four steals, and three blocked shots.
“(Macik) played really well,” said Miller. “She would catch the ball and face-up in the half-court, then blow by anyone they had trying to defend her, and they used several different girls in an effort to stop her. They really had a hard time matching up with her when she faced the basket.
“And, Avery (Priester) found her a couple of times in transition because she really used her speed to beat Northeast down the floor a few times for some nice transition baskets,” noted Miller.
“She also pounded the boards,” added Miller. “She played great.”
Miller had 12 points, including a trio of 3-pointers, and three assists for the Lady Wildcats, while Barry added seven points and six boards, Priester contributed nine assists, three rebounds, three steals, and one blocked shot, and Collins chipped in with five points.
Jones led NEB with 16 points, including four 3-pointers, and Maisie Neuber scored 12 points.
Athens, now 19-4, will square off with Towanda in the Showdown championship game Saturday at 6 p.m. at Mansfield University.
IN PHOTO 1: Athens senior Haley Barry. … PHOTOS COURTESY OF CONSTANCE MEYERS.
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