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BAKER'S SPORTS PEN: TROY, ATHENS SEASONS COME TO END; BOTH LIKELY TO BATTLE FOR NTL CROWN NEXT SEASON (2021-03-13)

Prior to Monday night’s District Four, Class AAA semi-final round playoff matchup against the Central Columbia, Troy basketball fans had grown accustom to that one clutch span during a ballgame when their squad produced a special run — the run that lifted their team to an outstanding record of 17 wins and just three losses.

However, Monday night, the Trojans just could not find that little extra spark they needed to carry themselves into Saturday’s title game against Loyalsock.

Troy led late in the third period, 33-29, on a Ty Barrett basket with 1:30 to play. However, rallying around the outstanding play of Dylan Harris, their newest 1,000-point scorer, the Blue Jays quickly regained the upper hand and did not give up their advantage.

Harris connected twice from the inside and Russell Gump’s shot at the buzzer gave Central a two-point advantage heading into the fourth. Twice, Troy got to within one point, but could not get themselves over the hump – too much Harris.

Harris canned 10 free throws down the stretch and added three additional baskets during the decisive fourth quarter – that’s clutch. Harris finished his night at the office with 37 points – 24 in the second half. He will take 1,001 points into the championship game on Saturday at Williamsport against Loyalsock.

Ty Barrett, after scoring 44 points against South Williamsport, completing his evening with a 25-point outing against Central. He finishes the season with 530 points scored.

Central Columbia’s only two losses this season are at the hands of Loyalsock. Monday’s outcome was just the third contest of 10 points or less for the Blue Jays. The other two were the losses to Loyalsock.

Mason Imbt had another solid outing in the paint. He totaled 16 points during an 8-of-13 evening to go with a team-high 13 rebounds. Add that to his 16-point performance in the quarterfinals and he presents a very solid inside-outside setup with Barrett.

Troy almost pitched a second-period shutout, allowing Central just one field goal and two total points. Those coming with just 50 seconds left in the first half.

Barrett hit for 12 of Troy’s opening 16 points.

Troy pulled back within four, at 48-44, with 2:20 to play, however, two quick Trojan fouls and ensuing Central free throws put the lead back at six points.

Imbt gave Troy its first lead of the night at 8-6 before Central closed out the quarter with a 15-10 upper hand. The Blue Jays settled for a 17-16 lead at intermission.

The last tie in the game at 29-all with two minutes left in the third.

Troy missed the solid play of Jake Dietrick as he was hit with his third foul very early in the third quarter. Dietrick finished with 11 rebounds.

Troy shot just 4 of 21 from downtown.
       
Switching gears to the Athens-Danville contest, the fifth-seeded Wildcats ran into a real buzzsaw Tuesday against the Ironmen. Athens never got out of the starting gate during its 86-39 defeat.

Danville was an unofficial 66 percent from the floor – hitting on 33 of 50 attempts. Looking at that by individual quarters it broke down to performances of 8 of 11; 9 of 15; 7 of 12; and 9 of 12.

Athens shot a respectable 39 percent for the game, but attempted just under 40 tries for the evening.
Danville also excelled in the turnover department – committing just seven compared to 18 by the Wildcats.

The Ironmen put together runs of 13 and 14 points during the first half and one of 11 in the third quarter.

Dante Harward and Jaggar Dressler probably one of the toughest backcourt duos Athens battles this season. Harward netted 33 points, including 15 of his team’s opening 33. He canned his fifth three-pointer prior to the half and finished with 23 first-half points.

Dressler had 31 points for the game, 17 of them at the break. He kicked off the final period with the opening seven points.

The game reaching the mercy rule with three minutes to play in the third.

J.J. Babcock with a solid outing of 16 points against Danville.

Look for Athens and Troy to produce some real battles next season. There’s no doubt they will be two
of the Northern Tier’s League’s top teams. The Wildcats return their five starters and just two players graduate.

The Trojans bring three starters back in Barrett, Imbt and Ethan VanNoy. Troy was also noted for a very solid junior-varsity squad this season.

Things are going to be very exciting in the Northern Tier League next year.

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Bob Baker was the longtime sports editor of The Daily Review. More recently, he has been a radio voice of NTL high school sports on several Bradford County radio stations. He is currently a regular contributor as a columnist for River Road Media Group’s Northern Tier Sports Report and Valley Sports Report.

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