POTTSTOWN >> Everything to this point is new for Methacton.
Yet the Warriors, making their first deep run into the Pioneer Athletic Conference playoffs since the 2014-2015 season, look like well-trained veterans at the most important point of the season.
Sophomore guard Brett Eberly and junior front-court mate David Duda scored 19 points apiece while 6-9 sophomore center Jeff Woodward added another 15 points as an all-out effort from a flock of underclassmen was key in Methacton punching its ticket to the PAC title game with a 65-53 win over Upper Perkiomen Friday night at Pottstown in a game that the Warriors never trailed.
“It’s very overwhelming at first. I was nervous coming into these past two PAC (playoff) games,” said Eberly, who shot 5-for-10 from 3-point land. “But I just needed to put it all aside and focus once we got out on the court.
“When I got on, I did my duty and this is what turns out. We’re going to the championship.”
Methacton, the PAC’s No. 3 overall seed and No. 2 seed from the Liberty Division, will face off against No. 5-seeded Spring-Ford in the championship game on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Rams downed top-seeded Norristown 44-43 in the nightcap’s overtime thriller.
Eberly and Duda fed off the efforts of Woodward in the paint. With the big man drawing constant defensive attention under the basket, the pair’s outside shooting and ability to control possessions proved lethal. Woodward racked up 13 boards and five blocks, including a pair of stuffs within the first two minutes of regulation
“That’s what’s really helped us down the stretch,” said Methacton head coach Jeff Derstine. “Early on (this season), Dave was doing a lot of scoring for us and Jeff was starting to come into form. Now in the second half of the season, Brett’s been playing with a ton of confidence. He hit some huge shots tonight, all three of them did.”
The trio scored Methacton’s first 13 points of the night before the team’s lone senior, forward Noah Kitaw, hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the first quarter on a 10-2 run. It was a forgettable start for Upper Perk, who began 0-for-10 from the field before senior Ryan Kendra broke the seal with a runner at 3:07.
In the second frame, though, Upper Perk was quick to respond. The Tribe went on a three-minute 14-3 run during the second, eventually bringing it to 28-22 at the half.
“When you get behind a 16-4 8-ball early on, it’s tough to come back from something like that,” said Upper Perk head coach Jared Krupp. “I give the guys credit. They scrapped and they tried to claw their way out of a hole, but it turned out the hole was too deep.”
Both teams traded buckets early on in the second half before consecutive 3-pointers by Duda and Eberly sparked a 16-10 run, which proved to be all the advantage the Warriors would need amid an even-scoring fourth quarter. Both team’s scored 17 points in the final frame with Upper Perk’s Kendra scoring eight of his team-high 18 points in the final eight minutes.
Although it didn’t play out as he would have hoped, Krupp gave plenty of credit to Upper Perk’s efforts in the program’s first ever trip to the PAC playoffs.
“You look at the second quarter, the third quarter and the fourth quarter,” he said. “With the exception of the first quarter, we really hung with a team like Methacton. That’s something we’ve got to be proud of.”
Behind Kendra, senior forward Will Walker had 14 points and nine boards while senior guard Liam Boyle scored 11.
The Tribe will now shift focus to next week’s District 1-5A playoffs. Upper Perk currently sits as the No. 10 seed out of 16 tournament qualifiers. If the season were to have ended Friday night, the Tribe would travel to face No. 7 seeded West Chester Rustin.
“We’ve done a lot of good things so far this season,” said Krupp. “Hopefully there’s still more to come.”
Meanwhile Derstine and the Warriors now shift focus to next Tuesday night.
“They’re both really good teams,” said Derstine, before Spring-Ford and Norristown’s semifinal game played out. “I know they played a double-overtime thriller a couple weeks ago.
“We had two tight games against Spring-Ford that came down to the wire. Both of them were battles. We know whoever it’ll be, it’ll be a battle. Our guys are excited for it. We’ve worked hard to get into this position.”
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