Prough, Grab lift Hornets to NTL Tournament Championship

Dalton Prough watched has watched Wellsboro grow into a Northern Tier League dynasty from the bottom up. Joseph Grab is experiencing Wellsboro basketball tradition for the first time.

Together, the senior and freshman helped Wellsboro drop the hammer on North Penn-Mansfield Saturday night at Mansfield University. Together, they and their teammates made sure the league championship stayed in their possession.

Prough scored a game-high 20 points and Grab was outstanding in the second half as Wellsboro pulled away and defeated the rival Tigers while capturing its second straight NTL Tournament championship. The Green Hornets (23-1) capped a perfect league season, won their 22nd straight game and have won at least a share of an NTL title in all but one season this decade. If anyone wants to win an NTL championship, the road goes through Wellsboro.

“It’s awesome. Coach (Todd) Outman has been through it all and I’ve been with him since I was a little fourth grader,” Prough said. “It’s really cool to see the progression since he’s taken over (in 2010). It’s really unique and I value it.”

“When I first took the job our goal was to win championships and those kids did a good job with it and we just tried to build upon it and the kids keep coming in every season and working hard and want to keep how well we’re doing going,” Outman said. “It’s all about the kids and how well they’re receptive to what we’re trying to teach them.”

Quinn Henry ran the offense well, scoring 12 points and dealing three assists, while Brandyn Tuttle had nine points and nine rebounds. Outman used 10 players throughout the game and the depth paid big dividends as the game progressed.

Wellsboro defeated North Penn-Mansfield (15-9) for a second straight year in the NTL final and this is the first time this decade one of these rivals has swept the other. The Tigers gave Wellsboro its toughest league game two weeks ago and led for much of the first quarter before tying the game 25-25 late in the first half. The Hornets, though, closed the half on a 6-0 run and never trailed again.

Wellsboro allowed just 10 second-half points and four field goals while extending its lead to 12 after three quarters. The Hornets also surrendered just five points in each of the final two quarters.

“This is one of the best rivalries around and it’s fun to play against them,” said Prough, who scored 14 of his 20 points in the first half. “They gave us a hard time all three games, but we pulled through and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Grab was a big reason why.

The freshman guard has seen his minutes increase throughout the season and showed no fear playing in his biggest game yet. Grab scored five points late in the third quarter and his late 3-pointer gave Wellsboro its first double-digit lead, 42-30. Grab continued playing well on both ends of the court as Wellsboro dominated the fourth quarter and his drive off the dribble gave Wellsboro a 52-35 lead with 2 minutes, 40 seconds remaining.

“As a freshman you don’t get much playing time so when you do you have to help the team and that’s what I tried to do,” Grab said. “Everyone has taught me a lot. It means a lot that they trusted me to go out and help the team. Coach has trusted me throughout the season and has said they’re going to need me in games like this and tonight was one of those nights.”

Dylan Meyer and Jacob Green each scored 10 points for North Penn-Mansfield and Green’s long 3-pointer late in the first half tied the game, 25-25. The Tigers led 9-4 three minutes into the game, but Wellsboro’s balance and defense started changing the game’s complexion in the third quarter.

North Penn-Mansfield will be seeded No. 3 in the District 4 Class AA playoffs and opens its title defense against No. 6 Sayre. Wellsboro is seeking its first district championship since 1952 and is the top seed. The Hornets host Bloomsburg in the quarterfinals.

“I think we’re peaking at the right time,” Grab said. “We really want to play well during districts.”

Wellsboro 60, North Penn-Mansfield 35

NP-Mansfield (35)

Nick Kasper,1 1-2 4, Dylan Meyer 3 4-6 10, Garrett David 2 0-0 4, Brent Burleigh 2 1-3 5, Jayden Andrews 0 0-0 0, Jacob Green 3 2-2 10, Sawyer Freeman 1 0-0 2. Totals 12 8-13 35.

Wellsboro (60)

Dalton Prough 8 2-2 20, Brandyn Tuttle 2 5-5 9, Quinn Henry 5 1-2 12, Collin Pietropola 2 0-1 4, Nic Ingerick 2 0-1 4, Andrew Brelo 1 0-0 2, Holden Kennedy 0 2-2 2, Tanner Button 0 0-0 0, Joe Grab 3 0-0 7, Hunter Brown 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 10-13 60.

NPM 12 13 5 5 — 35

Wellsboro 14 17 11 18 — 60

3-point goals: NP-Mansfield 3 (Green 2, Kasper 1); Wellsboro 4 (Prough 2, Henry 1, Grab 1)

Records: Wellsboro (23-1), North Penn-Mansfield (15-9).