Green Hornets beat Northeast Bradford
WELLSBORO – After nearly a decade of dominance under Todd Outman, there were whispers in the Northern Tier that Wellsboro would not be a contender in the NTL for the first time in 15 years. After beating Northeast Bradford, last year’s NTL small school champions and a state qualifier, 54-38, Wednesday at Wellsboro Gymnasium, those whispers are disappearing.
Joe Grab had an efficient 28 points, sophomore Liam Manning had 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench and the young Hornets sent a statement across the Northern Tier and in District 4.
“We want to stay under the radar, but after tonight and Saturday (a 58-54 win over North Penn-Mansfield) it is going to be tough,” Wellsboro coach Steve Adams said. “When you’re out of coaching and not sure you’re going to get to coach again, you start to realize how special it is to get the opportunity to coach. I was a little nervous coming into the gym tonight.”
Wellsboro did not show nerves, though. Grab, the only player back with any meaningful minutes from Wellsboro, continued his spectacular start to the season as he had 28 points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals. Grab was especially efficient, as he did not force anything and frequently made the right play.
“My shooting was not great tonight so when I’m not shooting well early on I look to drive and either create for myself or for my teammates.”
Both of those things were on display in the second quarter. Grab had two great finishes in transition early in the quarter. Then, in the last two minutes of the half, he found Conner Adams and Isaac Keane off drive and kicks for made threes as Wellsboro inched ahead in a back-and-forth first half to lead 25-20.
“That really made Northeast step out and respect Isaac and Conner and opened up lanes for Joe,” said Adams.
The tide turned for good in the third quarter as Liam Manning started to play his best basketball. Two straight putbacks gave Wellsboro a 34-25 lead early in the third quarter and forced a Panther timeout. The lead never got below seven, and once it hit double digits never dipped back into single digits as Wellsboro took care of the ball in the fourth quarter, with Grab driving and either finishing, getting to the foul line, or dishing for layups.
Manning did not play any varsity time last year, but the 6-foot-4 forward showed off a multi-faceted game on Wednesday, as he finished inside, hit a few turnaround jumpers, protected the rim and crashed the boards.
“Liam was tentative in the two scrimmages but he’s starting to come into his own,” said Adams. “He’s key for us. He gives us a post game and that’s important for our spacing.”
Wellsboro’s man-to-man defense, a mainstay over the last decade, showed strides towards an elite level on Wednesday as they held Northeast to tough looks and frequently only one shot.
“We’re starting to get an identity with our man defense,” said Adams.
Karter Whitmer 0 0-0 0; Joe Grab 10 6-7 28; Conner Adams 1 2-4 5; Isaac Keane 2 1-2 7; Ty Morral 1 2-2 4; Darryn Callahan 0 0-2 0; Liam Manning 5 0-0 10; Ty Wetzel 0 0-0 0; Ryan Sweet 0 0-0 0; Carson Davis 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 11-17 54.
Lucas Crown 4 0-2 8; Dan Williams 1 2-4 4; Nick Marrino 1 3-5 6; Jordan Lynch 1 0-0 3; Tony Bisigano 1 0-1 2; Logan Mullen 0 0-0 0; Andy Crown 2 1-2 5; Clayton Conner 3 3-6 10. Totals 13 9-20 38.
Northeast Bradford 9 11 8 10 — 38
Wellsboro 11 14 13 16 — 54
3-point goals: NEB 3 (Conner 1, Lynch 1, Marrino 1), Wellsboro 4 (Keane 2, Adams 1, Grab 1)