Liam Manning got a steal in the corner and instantly got his head up. The 6-foot, 5-inch big man dribbled behind his back around a defender, and slammed down a ferocious one-handed slam dunk, sending the Hornet crowd into a frenzy. It gave Wellsboro a 26-9 lead just 10 minutes into the game.
Less than 24 hours after a tough road loss that eliminated them from NTL Large School championship contention, Wellsboro faced down a rivalry game on the home floor of rival North Penn-Mansfield Saturday afternoon and played maybe its finest game of the year, winning 61-37.
“That’s definitely been something I’ve dreamed about since I’ve been a little kid really to get into a big game like this and throwing down so it felt really good,” Manning said.
Everything felt mighty good for Wellsboro. They started strong, knocked down shoots from the inside and outside, and frustrated a potentially potent Tiger offense.
Conner Adams got Wellsboro on the board with their first five points and found Liam Manning and Wellsboro led 7-0. Brody Burleigh tried to get NP-Mansfield back in the game and two baskets cut it to 9-4, but Wellsboro would explode to end the quarter. Darryn Callahan had a quick six points and Conner Adams hit a three with two seconds left and Wellsboro led 20-6.
The pick-and-roll worked early and often for Wellsboro and Conner Adams was a big part of it.
“We just knew we had to have fun. We were kind of tight going in the other games and we went out there and had a lot of fun today,” Conner Adams said.
The second quarter was a much better quarter for the Tigers. After Manning’s dunk and an Adams layup got it to 30-13 at the midway point in the quarter, North Penn-Mansfield closed strong as Karson Dominick had a quick five sandwiched around a Peyton McClure foul shot to make it 31-18.
In a rivalry where comebacks are frequent — North Penn-Mansfield cut a 12-point halftime deficit to just one in the fourth quarter against Wellsboro earlier this season — it felt like a run would happen. It never came for the Tigers, however.
Wellsboro made sure of it with more hot shooting. Threes by Peyton McClure and Adams had Wellsboro up 39-22 early in the third quarter, and it was a rout from there. The Tigers did get it back to 16 on an Eli Shaw three with under three to go in the quarter, but Wellsboro finished strong and ran 1:30 off the clock to end the quarter, culminating in a wide-open Cam Brought layup to make it 48-30 going to the fourth.
The Tigers tried to press Wellsboro, but they handled it with ease. Various Hornet players found Brought wide open for layups underneath the hoop as he had eight Hornet points in the fourth quarter as Wellsboro ran the stall offense to perfection and cruised home to a 61-37 win.
“We’ve had a little bit of a rough stretch. We talked a lot about loosening up and trying to be a little more relaxed in the ballgame. You know, we know what lies in front of us, I felt we were just kind of playing with a little bit too much pressure in the last few games,” Coach Steve Adams said.
Sammy Lawrence 0 0-1 0, Brody Burleigh 5 0-3 10, Alex Davis 3 0-0 6, Eli Shaw 4 0-0 11, Karson Dominick 3 3-6 10. Total 15, 3-10 37
Peyton McClure 2 3-5 9, Conner Adams 6 0-0 15, Liam Manning 6 0-0 12, Darryn Callahan 4 1-2 9, Hayes Campbell 3 0-1 6, Cameron Brought 5 0-0 10. Totals 21 4-8 61.
NP-Mansfield 6 12 12 7 — 37
Wellsboro 20 11 17 13 — 61
3-point goals: NPM 4 (Shaw 3, Dominick 1), Wellsboro 5 (Adams 3, McClure 2).