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NTL BOYS BASKETBALL: HUBBARD, SAYRE OVERCOME MORNINGSTAR, WYALUSING, 73-69 (2023-01-24)

By CHRIS MANNING
Valley Sports Report
WYALUSING — It’s not often fans to get witness what happened on the court during Sayre’s 73-69 win over Wyalusing during NTL boys’ basketball action Tuesday. The two leading scorers — Wyalusing’s Blake Morningstar and Sayre’s Jackson Hubbard — combined for 78 of the game’s 142 points.

For the middle two quarters, Hubbard appeared unstoppable, either going to the basket or from deep, where he connected on five 3-balls for the game. In the fourth quarter, he didn’t have a field goal but went 5-for-9 from the free throw line to help the Redskins secure the win.

Morningstar scored 32 of his 42 points in the second half, taking over the paint with his right-hand jump hook. He also had two momentum-changing plays — a 3-pointer at the buzzer at the end of the third quarter, and a coast-to-coast lay-up plus the foul in the fourth to get the Rams to within two.

In the end, though, Sayre’s 12-point lead in the third quarter proved to be sufficient as Wyalusing was never able to come all the way back in the fourth.

“It was a really good offensive night for us,” said Sayre coach Jon Ward. “We don’t often get to play a team that plays man-to-man — when we’re playing the Small Schools its usually zone — but we can execute.

“We’ve got a lot of guys out there playing together, and they make the right play,” added Ward. “We were doing a good job getting to our spots, and, of course, we’ve got Jackson Hubbard, he was on fire tonight.”

Hubbard had 15 points in the second quarter alone to lead Sayre from a four-point deficit at the break to a five-point lead at the half. The senior would score 11 more in the third quarter — with nine of them coming off 3-balls — to push Sayre’s lead to 12 points at one point.

“He’s very capable of that every single night,” said Ward. “He was feeling it from three. He’s found his stride lately, the last few games he’s had a 36-point game tonight, a 42, another 30, so that’s what we need more out of him is to continue doing that as we get into the postseason.

“He was doing a good job distributing — drawing the defense and kicking it out — and our guys were hitting shots,” added Ward. “That really helped us, it was very timely.”

Sophomore Nick Pellicano added 11 points, while freshman Karter Green and sophomore Michael Griffin each had eight points each. Senior Zack Garrity netted six with sophomore Hudson Trump scoring four.

After Morningstar, Parker Petlock added 12 points, including three 3-balls, while Trehnon Hugo and Nick Vanderpool had six points each. Thomas Oliver chipped in with three.

It was Wyalusing getting the fast start, going 2-for-2 in their first two possessions to take a 5-0 lead. Sayre cut it to 5-4 off a pair of Hubbard free throws, followed by Hubbard finding Green for a bucket.

Morningstar answered with a lay-up to make it 7-4 halfway through the quarter, then Oliver nailed a 3-pointer to give Wyalusing their biggest lead of the game, 10-4.

A Pellicano putback cut it to 10-6, but a Morningstar driving lay-up made it 12-6 with under two minutes left in the quarter.

Back-to-back Sayre 3-balls from Garrity and Hubbard tied the game at 12-all. The Rams had the final say, though, as Hugo hit a jumper, followed by Morningstar making a full=court pass to Hugo for the lay-up to take a four-point lead.

Pellicano hit a runner to start the second quarter, while at the other end Oliver found Morningstar for a bucket.

A Vanderpool jumper extended the lead back to six points, but a Hubbard 3-ball cut that in half.

Morningstar would hit two freebies, but Hubbard got a jumper to go to make it 22-19.

A Petlock 3-ball saw Wyalusing take a 25-19 halfway through the quarter, but that’s when Sayre began its push.

Hubbard started it with a lay-up, while Morningstar answered with a jumper. The Redskins then went on a 11-0 run in the final 2:30 of the half to take a 32-27 lead.

Griffin started the run with a 3-pointer, while Hubbard scored six of the next eight points.

Morningstar came out and hit a jumper to make it a 3-point game, but a Hubbard 3-pointer followed by a Pellicano bucket saw Sayre extend the lead to 37-29.

Morningstar answered with a jump hook, but another Hubbard 3-ball, followed by a Trump putback saw Sayre extend their lead to 42-31.

This was danger time for Wyalusing as Sayre looked to be pulling away.

However, Morningstar would come back with a jump shot. Pellcano answered with a driving lay-up and the tit-for-tat that defined the third quarter began.

Vanderpool bagged a jumper, then Hubbard hit a 3-ball.

Petlock would go 3-for-4 from the line, but Hubbard had a driving lay-up.

It went like that until Sayre led 55-44 with 9.7 seconds left. That’s when a technical foul on the Redskins put Morningstar on the line, and he made both freebies.

Then, after taking the ball out, they got it to him on the wing, and Morningstar hit a deep 3-pointer over the outstretched arms of two Sayre defenders to cut it to to 55-49 at the buzzer.

Sayre tried to regain momentum in the fourth as Hubbard found Pellicano for a basket.

Morningstar came back with a jump hook, but Sayre’s Garrity hit a 3-ball to extend their lead to 60-51 a minute into the fourth.

Morningstar would get to the line, making both, but a Griffin 3-pointer extend Sayre’s lead to 63-53 with 5:20 left to play.

That’s when the Rams made one final push, beginning with a Morningstar jumper. He added another jumper after Hubbard went 1-of-2 from the free throw line to cut it to 64-57 with four minutes left.

A Morningstar old-fashioned three-point play cut it to 64-60 with 2:43 left to play. Then came his big momentum swing as he got a steal on the defensive end, drove the length of the court, and laid it up over two Sayre defenders to make it a one possession game.

Sayre regrouped by calling a timeout, then used some good ball movement that ended with a Trump basket to extend their lead to four points with two minutes to play.

After a Wyalusing miss, Sayre had an opportunity to add to its lead at the free throw line. However, Trump missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but a Sayre offensive rebound found Trump for a field goal and their lead ballooned to six points with a minute to play.

Morningstar would answer with a 3-ball at the other end, cutting it to 68-65 with 48.2 seconds on the clock.

Wyalusing would foul Hubbard, who made both to make it a five-point game with 42 seconds left.

Morningstar would get fouled, and make 1-of-2 to cut it to 70-66 with 30.8 seconds to go.

Hubbard would get fouled again, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1, while at the other end Morningstar found Petlock for a 3-ball, cutting it to 70-69 with 19 seconds to play.

Hubbard would go to the free throw line again, this time making 1-of-2 to give Sayre a 71-69 lead with 15 seconds on the clock.

Wyalusing would get a lay-up attempt with seven seconds left, but it was no good. Pellicano got the rebound, was fouled, and went to the line, where he went 1-of-2, giving the Rams one last glimmer of hope.

However, they turned it over on their next possession. Hubbard went to the line, made the first, and secured the win.

It was a big win for the Redskins as it keeps them effectively tied with NEB and NP-Liberty for the Small School title. Both of those teams had wins over the Rams, and now Sayre can say they do, too.

“It sends a message to them that we’re still right there,” said Ward.

Sayre will get those two teams at home during the second cycle as they make a push for the NTL Small School title.

“We’re on top of the Small School right now and everybody has to go through us,” remarked Ward. “We’re looking to win out the rest of year until district play, and that’s how we’re going to go going forward.”

Sayre, now 7-9, returns to action Thursday at Williamson.

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IN PHOTO: Sayre's Jackson Hubbard. ... VSR STOCK PHOTO.


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