HERSHEY - Inevitably, every Hershey boys basketball game this season will revolve around the Trojans' talented Dylan Painter, a dominant 6-foot-10 force ticketed for Villanova next fall.
That is until Palmyra's Austin Yetter starts shooting like he did Tuesday.
Connecting on eight of nine 3-point attempts, Yetter piled up a game-high 28 points to headline a convincing 58-46 Palmyra victory on the road. After Painter dropped 10 immediate points in the first quarter, the Cougars (5-2, 2-2 Mid-Penn Keystone) managed to hold the big man to just a pair of field goals and led the rest of the way for a critical divisional win.
"They're our biggest rivals," Yetter said. "We knew that this was one of the biggest games of the year, coming into this, my senior year. We just needed to win here to make a statement."
Yetter's statement started with a left-wing trey barely two minutes into play, a single scene inside a back-and-forth and exciting opening act. Then, Palmyra junior Isaac Blatt (11 points), saving his most thunderous for last, dunked to conclude the first quarter, as Painter sat on the bench for a brief breather. The two-handed finish, which handed the visitors a two-point lead, stood as part of a 7-2 run that ended at the second quarter's 7:00 mark via a bucket by Hershey guard Jake Wilson.
However, Wilson's score was the only interruption to the ongoing Austin Yetter Show, which featured four 3-pointers through halftime and a 30-16 Cougars edge at the break.
Meanwhile, Palmyra kept Painter on lockdown with double and triple-teams and held the Trojans scoreless for the remainder of the period. Junior Braden Vernet could routinely be found at the center of those swarming inside efforts, a pest in Painter's pocket all night.
"That's a lot of Braden Vernet," Cougars coach Pete Conrad said of his team's defensive success. "Isaac didn't guard (Painter) a lot, but he was in the area and he's so long. (It was) Braden's toughness working hard to make him less comfortable in the spots he's getting to."
Leading twice by as many as 15, Palmyra managed to keep its distance over a more even second half that included a tactical change from the Hershey bench. Attacking the basket through a smaller lineup, the Trojans put themselves in the bonus at more than a minute to go in the third quarter, but never within two scores.
And as time wound down in the fourth, there was Yetter knocking down his final two triples within a 90-second span to seal the deal.
"We were outplayed, both ends of the floor," Hershey coach Paul Blackburn said. "I thought defensively they made it difficult to get Dylan the basketball. And I think for other guys, it threw their rhythm off.
"The bottom line is we couldn't stop them. We didn't guard them tonight well enough, and they executed."
Palmyra 58, Hershey 46
Ethan Harro 1 0-0 3, Bryant Willis 1 0-0 2, Isaac Blatt 3 5-6 11, Eric Lynn 3 3-3 9, Braden Vernet 2 1-2 5, Austin Yetter 9 2-2 28. Totals — 19 11-13 58.
Chase Wallace 4 0-2 9, Connor Gurt 3 0-0 8, Jake Wilson 4 2-5 10, Luke Blackburn 0 0-2 0, Matt Brier 1 0-0 2, Luke Hedrick 1 0-0 3, Dylan Painter 4 6-6 14. Totals — 17 8-15 46.
P_ 16_ 14_ 11_ 17 _ — _ 58
H_ 14_ 2 _ 12_ 16 — _ 46
3-point goals — P 9 (Yetter 8, Harro) H 4 (Gurt 2, Wallace, Hedrick)