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Methacton beats Boys Latin for first state quarterfinal appearance

Methacton's Jeff Woodward, left, and David Duda hug after the Warriors' win. (Owen McCue - MediaNews Group)

ROSEMONT >> There’s a wall outside the gym at Methacton High School with pictures displaying the best teams in the school’s history.

Currently representing the boys basketball program is the 2015 squad, which won 25 games and notched the school’s first state playoff victory.

Regardless of the outcome of Wednesday night’s PIAA Class 6A second round game at Harriton High School against District 12 runner-up Boys Latin, this year’s Warriors had at least an argument to be up on that wall after a second straight Pioneer Athletic Conference title, a district quarterfinal appearance, and a state first round win over Hazleton last Saturday.

After Methacton’s 91-73 win over Boys Latin Wednesday night, senior guard David Duda went over to Athletic Director Paul Spiewak and said, “That’s best-ever wall right there.”

The victory put this Methacton team in a class of its own. The Warriors advanced to the state quarterfinals for the first time in school history where they will face District 1 four seed Pennridge, a 55-51 winner over Abington.

“We’re the greatest team in Methacton history,” Duda said. “It’s an indication of the hard work that we put in September, October, November. All the preseason work we put in is paying off now.”

“That was our last goal in our preseason meeting,” Duda added, “and we just achieved it tonight.”

Methacton’s Jeff Woodward, center, scored 27 points and grabbed 25 rebounds against Boys Latin. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Boys Latin (23-6) came away with a 78-69 overtime win the first round of states over a Norristown team that split the season series with Methacton (24-7). Head coach RJ McDaniel said while he felt the Eagles were a perfect matchup for his team, the Warriors were the opposite.

McDaniel’s team doesn’t have a player listed taller than 6-foot-3. Methacton has a 6-foot-9 forward in junior Jeff Woodward. Boys Latin likes to play zone defense. The Warriors have the shooters to beat a zone.

His fears were proven right. Woodward totaled 27 points, 25 rebounds and six blocks. The Warriors made 12 3-pointers, including six from Duda, who finished with 26 points and three from junior Erik Timko, who had 23 points.

“It was a tough matchup for us,” McDaniel said. “They kind of had all the things that were our Achilles’ heel all season.”

Methacton’s Brett Eberly passes around Boys Latin’s Jabril Lawson. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Boys Latin kept things close however. Methacton got out to a 24-13 lead after the first quarter and built that advantage up to 14 points in the second quarter. Then Woodward went to the bench with two fouls with 4:26 left in the half.

Led by Malik Clark, Johaan Vinson and Steve Pierce, Boys Latin cut into the deficit with an 11-2 run to the end the half, trailing, 47-42. Vinson beat the buzzer with a three at the end of the half.

Woodward picked up his third foul early in the third quarter. Not long after, Clark, who led his team with 21 points, tied the game, 50-50, with 5:45 left in the third.

“At that point, we just gotta reset,” Woodward said. “It’s basically 0-0 for us. We just tried to go on as big of a run as we can.”

The game was all Methacton after that. Timko hit a three off an assist from junior guard Brett Eberly, who tallied seven of them in the game. Then Duda reeled off five straight before the next Boys Latin basket. Woodward scored his first points of the second half with 2:23 left in the quarter and added five more as the Warriors closed the quarter on a 17-4 run. He and Duda combined for 14 in the third.

Methacton led 67-54 entering the fourth. Midway through the period, the Warriors were up 83-61. They turned that into a 93-63 advantage by the time head coach Jeff Derstine emptied his bench. It concluded a 43-13 run for Methacton since Boys Latin tied the game. Timko had nine points in the fourth quarter to lead the way.

“We just play so well as a team,” Duda said. “Even though me, Jeff and Erik had 20, the other guys were doing the little things to get us the ball…We’re just so unselfish as a team, and it allows us to get all the shots we need to win.”

Methacton didn’t make the state playoffs until 2013. The Warriors’ second trip came in 2015 when they picked up their first state victory. Their two state playoff victories this season have Methacton 3-2 all-time in state games and have advanced the Warriors further than any team in program history.

“It’s huge not just for this team, but for this program,” Woodward said. “We’ve had great teams in the past … To make it this far and to get that recognition for our team, our school and just be able to represent our school and this team, and the great players who have played before us, it’s massive for us. It also feels pretty good to be up there with some of the greatest teams of all time who have come through Methacton.”

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