Athens tops Troy in NTL Showdown despite Barrett's 45.

By: Garrett Carr | Towanda Daily Review | February 16, 2020

Athens tops Troy in NTL Showdown despite Barrett's 45.

Troy's Ty Barrett was scoring from everywhere. The sophomore guard was in range the moment he got off the bus Saturday Night for the NTL Showdown Championship Game that served as a rubber match between Troy and Athens. Yet, Athens kept finding a way, and despite a sensational 45 points from Barrett, it is Athens who can rightfully call themselves champions as they outlasted Troy, 68-64.

"That was one of the best games I’ve ever seen a kid play," Athens Head Coach Bob Woodward said. "I thought we did a nice job contesting his shots but it just did not matter. He was scoring from everywhere. Hats off to Troy because they played a heck of a game."

In an NTL Boys Basketball Season full of close games, it was only fitting that it ended with another thriller.

An 18-16 first quarter, won by Troy, with Barrett scoring 16 points, was as good of a quarter played in the league this year.

"I thought both teams came out playing really well early," Woodward said.

It was Athens, though, who would make a push in the second quarter. Behind six points each from Aaron Lane, Troy Pritchard and JJ Babcock, plus a three by Treshman Mason Lister,  Athens took a 37-28 lead into halftime. A key sequence played out in the last minute of the second quarter when they went score-stop-score, with a basket by Lane at the Buzzer to extend the lead. With the league being so close this year, Coach Woodward knew that every basket would matter.

"That little run at the end of the half was huge for us," he said. "That gave us a little cushion going into halftime, which, the way Ty was playing for them, we needed it."

The second half was Troy’s turn to make their run. Barrett scored an incredible 17 points in a 6 minute stretch to bridge the third and fourth quarters, and with 5:30 left to play in the NTL basketball season,  Barrett tied it up with a driving layup around three Wildcat defenders. The ensuing possession would prove to be decisive.

Athens' Troy Pritchard scored 2 of his team high 20 points on the next trip down, but what caught everyone’s attention was the limping Ty Barrett. Barrett had to be helped off the court by teammates, and things looked grim for the Troy Trojans.

Pritchard, who has battled illness this week, was in an unfamiliar situation having to come off the bench, but played arguably his best game of the season.

"Troy came in and was really efficient for us," said Woodward. "His scoring down low really helped us tonight, but also his rebounding. We hadn’t been rebounding well."

With Barrett getting taped up by the athletic training staff, Athens slowly extended their lead back to eight points, as Troy could not get anything to fall, going 0-7 from the foul line for a stretch in the fourth quarter after Barrett went out. Troy's 8-19 performance from the line proved to be costly.

When Barrett came back in, Troy had one last run in them. Two circus shots in the lane by Barrett and some cold foul shooting by the Wildcats, who at one point missed five straight late in the fourth quarter, gave Troy the ball down two with under a minute remaining.

It was not to be. Troy's attempt missed, Athens pulled down the rebound, and finally foul shots started to fall for Athens. When the final buzzer sounded, Athens could stake their claim as the area's top team, 63-58.

"This team has overcome more adversity than anyone will know," said Woodward. "It made them tougher and stronger and I’m so proud of these kids."