Hershey holds off Exeter upset bid, 54-50, in District 3 5A opener

HERSHEY >> The evening started with such promise. But there was a long way to go and Exeter couldn’t quite see it all the way through.


Sixth-seeded Hershey needed a late rally at home to avoid a District 3 5A first-round upset to No. 11 Exeter, by emerging with a 54-50 victory after a hard scrap on its home floor.


The plucky Eagles wrap their season at 15-10; the 20-4 Trojans move on to face No. 3 Northeastern, which bested Conrad Weiser 58-45 Monday night.


Hershey was given all it could handle by Exeter, which finished third in Berks League Section 1 during its regular season. The Eagles jumped out to a 9-0 lead Monday evening; the host Trojans didn’t crack the scoreboard until a 3-pointer from Jake Wilson (more on him in a bit) with 3:44 to play in the first quarter.


A veteran-laden Hershey squad never panicked, slowly chipping away at hole the squad had dug for themselves until the hosts clawed to within 23-20 at the break. In fact, veteran head Paul Blackburn (who notched career victory No. 300 with the win), didn’t even call a time out during that disastrous start.


In the end, the youthful Eagles had their wings clipped by an ice water-in-veins crew that may even be a tad underrated at the six spot in 5A. But what a row it was.


After surrendering the lead for the first time at 27-25 midway through the third quarter, Exeter fought back and had Hershey on the ropes, holding a lead as late as 1:49 to go — when Wilson nailed another 3-ball to give the Trojans the lead for good at 49-47.


It was something veteran Exeter head coach Kevin Boettlin can certainly hang his hat on moving forward.


“It was definitely a see-saw battle the whole way,” Boettlin said. “I think we made some crucial turnovers at times and missed some layups and foul shots in the second half. You don’t do that and get it done in districts.


“No one should put their heads down. Every one of them gave me 100-percent of their game today. It was a tough game all the way to end. Unfortunately, we didn’t make the shots when we needed to, but this was great experience for them. They battled to the end and as a coach, you can’t ask for more. To be honest, we’re ahead of where my expectations were at the beginning of the year. The future’s bright here.”


Wilson needed 13 points coming into the contest for 1,000 on his career. Though that pursuit took a back seat to the larger quest Monday evening, he got it with a critical triple that pulled his Trojans back from brink after Exeter opened up a 45-38 lead midway through the fourth quarter. He finished with a game-high 17 points.


Hershey flashed a press trap at the start of the second half that flustered Exeter. The Eagles had difficulty breaking it at first, costing them a pair of turnovers and key conversions that allowed Hershey to grab its first lead of the game midway through the third.


“We had a tough time recognizing that at first,” Boettlin said. “Once we figured it out, we were OK. Unfortunately, our youth kind of showed up a little bit in trying to figure out what was being thrown at us. Once we figured it out, we settled down again.”


Exeter survived that scare thanks in large part to Jason Metz, who scored eight of the Eagles’ 15 third-quarter points. They also got a clutch 3-pointer from Anthony Wise, who tied the ballgame back up at 30 after witnessing that early lead dissipate completely. Wise led Exeter with 15 points; Metz had 12.


But the upset was not to be.


An 8-0 run late — sparked at the start by Wilson’s triple — gave the Trojans a 46-45 lead with 2:30 to go. Leading 49-48 with 45 ticks left, Hershey’s Chase Wallace found Sean Coller under the basket on a drive for two points and the foul. Coller hit the and-1 for a 52-48 lead and an edge the hosts were able to ride out to safety. Barely.


District 3 5A first round

Hershey 54, Exeter 50

Exeter –  17  6  15  12 — 50

Hershey –  11  9  14  20 — 54



Metz 4 4-4 12, Metz 5 3-4 15, Dobroniecki 1 2-2 4, Javier 4 0-0 8, Rohrbach 1 0-0 2, Haines 2 0-0 4, Murray 2 0-0 5. Totals: 19 9–10 50.

3-pointers: 3 (Wise 2, Murray)


Wilson 6 2-2 17, Wallace 4 5-5 13, Jackson 2 1-2 7, Coller 3 4-5 11, Painter 2 0-0 4, Hines 1 0-0 2. Totals: 18 12-14 54.

3-pointers: 6 (Wilson 3, Jackson 2, Coller)








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