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Adams’ 28 Leads Hornets To 4th NTL Showdown Title
Mansfield University – Wellsboro senior Conner Adams scored a career-high 28 points to lead the Hornets to a 65-48 win over rival North Penn-Mansfield in the NTL Showdown finals on Saturday, February 18.
The win is the Hornets’ 4th league tournament title since the format was introduced in the 2013-14 season, breaking a tie with Athens for the most wins by a school.
“I’m really happy for the guys,” head coach Steve Adams said following the game. “They wanted a championship and to win the Showdown championship is a great accomplishment. Mansfield only had one loss on the season, and they’re a heck of a ball club, and for us to play as well as we did tonight says something about our guys. We really wanted this one, we felt we maybe let and game or two slip to them. They were both really good games, I think 4 points separated us in those two games. We were pretty evenly matched and our guys were really focused.”
Early on the top two teams in the PIAA District IV Class 3A field battled it out from start to finish and were neck-and-neck for the majority of the opening quarter. Wellsboro held a one-point, 15-14 lead late in the quarter. With time running out and the ball, Adams drove through the paint, side-stepped the Tigers’ Cooper Shaw and made the basket, putting Wellsboro up 17-14. Adams had 6 points and junior Hayes Campbell had 5 to lead the way.
Wellsboro started the second quarter out on reverse layup from Peyton McClure, assisted by Campbell, on a back door cut, then followed it up on their next possession with a deep three by Adams, increasing the lead to 22-14. The Hornets held North Penn-Mansfield to just two field goals in the quarter as they went on an 11-6 run, building a 28-20 halftime lead.
Adams started the second half out with a mid-range jumper then two trips later, a Campbell pass found senior Cameron Brought for an open layup. The Tigers had more offensive success in the quarter with Dominick scoring 8 points, after being held to just 5 points in the first half. Both teams were near even again in the third, with a slight 15-14 edge by Wellsboro to increase the lead to 43-34.
The Hornets saved their best quarter for the game’s final quarter, pouring in 22 points. As the Tigers turned up the defensive pressure to try and force turnovers, instead they ran into foul trouble. Wellsboro handled the Tigers’ full-court pressure and turned it into multiple trips to the foul line. Wellsboro shot 14 times down the stretch, converting 11 of them, with Adams shooting a near perfect 9-for-10 at the line. With their success at the foul line Wellsboro built their lead up to 21 points, eventually winning by 17.
Adams led all scorers with 28 points and went 11-for-12 at the foul line. McClure finished with 17, Brought and Campbell added 8 points apiece and junior Caden Smith had 4 points.
“Conner is a competitor and he’s never going to quit or give up. None of our guys will. Ever since they started the Showdown Conner is a sports fan so he wanted to play in it, and once we made it, he said, ‘Dad we have to win this.’ He really pushed hard, he was excited and focused, and when its your son its awful special to share a championship.”
Dominick finished with 24 to lead North Penn-Mansfield, 11 of them coming in the final quarter. Brody Burleigh added 11 and Cooper Shaw chipped in 6 points.
“It’s been my goal all four years to get here,” said Adams. “Sophomore year we qualified but COVID happened so it’s been a goal to get here and win. It was a great game. At home we were up at the half and we said we weren’t going to let them beat us three times. At home we got tired and mentally got down a little bit, so we stayed mentally focused.”
Brought (13) and Campbell (9) controlled the glass, grabbing 22 rebounds between the two of them. Adams added 6 boards and also made 4 assists, Smith added 5 assists and 5 boards, and McClure grabbed 4 rebounds and made 3 assists.
“One of our strengths has been limiting teams to one shot. Early on in the first quarter though we weren’t boxing out like we needed to, and we talked about that. And that’s one thing about our guys, they’re very coachable. When you tell them that they need to do something different, no matter what tone you use to tell them, they do it.”
Next up for Wellsboro (18-6, 13-3 NTL Large School Division) is the District IV Class 3A playoffs. The Hornets secured the 2nd overall seed in the class and will face Warrior Run at a date and time to be determined.
“Warrior Run is a good ball club. They’re going to be tough but we get them at home,” concluded Adams. “Our student section is phenomenal and it helps with the home crowd. Our guys will be ready. There’s eight teams that qualified and they’re eight that could win. You break it down from eight to six that have a really good chance of winning it. We’re in that mode but there are some really good teams, so we’ll have to be ready. We’re going to enjoy this one and then on Monday we’ll start getting ready for Warrior Run.”
Writing: Ed Weaver
Photography: Garrett Carr