Top-seeded Exeter captures fourth crown in the last seven seasons.
Exeter boys basketball claimed yet another Class A title on Sunday afternoon, topping The Williston Northampton School 51-44 in a battle between the top two seeded teams in the tournament. The championship is Exeter’s second in the past three years and fourth in the last seven, as they once again prove to be the powerhouse in Class A.
Pearson Parker ’19 led the way for Big Red and was named Most Valuable Player after finishing with 13 points, six assists and five rebounds. Parker was a steady presence during a Williston second half run and eventually put the game on ice for top-seeded Exeter after knocking down a step-back jumper as the shot clock was dwindling down to pad the Big Red lead to six points with just one minute left to play.
Exeter’s defense was the story from the opening tip as they relied on their effort on that end to build a 24-17 lead heading into halftime. The Wildcats came out hot to start the second half and eventually grabbed a 34-33 lead with nine minutes to go, but it would not last. Parker and classmate Jordan Jones ’19 combined for a trio of three pointers to power a 9-0 run and reclaim a lead they would not relinquish. Big Red outscored the Wildcats 18-8 over the final nine minutes.
“Today's game was a reflection of how our kids handled their day-to-day business all season,” says head coach Jay Tilton. “From their early commitment to Coach Fishel’s strength program to bouncing back from that incredibly draining semifinal game versus Milton, this has been a mentally tough group that just wouldn’t back down from challenging situations. Williston gave us everything we could handle, but in the end our commitment to our defense carried us as it has all season. This is clearly the best defensive group I’ve had in my time here at Exeter.”
Matt Hawke ’19 and Alex Swett ’19 combined for 21 points for Big Red and, along with classmate Jake Blaisdell '19, provided their customary hard-nosed defense to make it difficult for the Williston offense to get into any rhythm. "Alex, Matt, and Jake have been pillars of our season success," says Tilton. "Their experience, steady approach and commitment to detail in practice really paid off — not just today, but all year. But without question, they stepped up in a big way today."
“The titles are awesome, but not what I would say defines us,” says Tilton. “I’m so proud of the people we’ve had wear the Exeter uniform in my time here. I know they love Exeter, play hard for each other and understand that they have built and contributed to something that is bigger than any single player. I love the standard of excellence these young men have created.”