EXETER TOWNSHIP - Northeastern’s PIAA Class AA quarterfinal was the polar opposite of the game that preceded it.
While York Suburban won in a thrilling, five-game match, the Bobcats heavy-handedly swept Nanticoke, 25-7, 25-8, 25-6, to advance to the PIAA semifinals on Tuesday. Northeastern gave up a combined 21 points Saturday afternoon as the Bobcats cruised to the win. They'd watched much of Suburban's match from the stands at Exeter Township.
“The environment shifted pretty quickly. It was a pretty awesome environment right before we entered the court,” Bobcats coach Matt Wilson said. “I think for us, I was pretty happy and thrilled that we came in and set the tone early. And sort of stayed pedal to the metal from that point forward.”
Northeastern rolled to a 13-7 lead in the first game, then picked up the next 12 points to seize 18 point win. The second and third games unfolded in similar fashion.
So far, the PIAA tournament has not proved to be much of a challenge for the Bobcats, who dispatched their first-round opponent Crestwood with relative ease Wednesday. Despite back-to-back sweeps, the Bobcats have remained focused as they’ve progressed through the tournament.
“Right now we just have to focus on every point,” Reese Devilbiss said. “Be ready for things we’re not used to seeing. … Really the practice gym is what keeps us ready for things to come at the end of the season.”
The lopsided wins continue to be opportunities for Northeastern's younger players to gain experience in big-game situations. Wilson used the third game for that purpose on Saturday as the Bobcats closed things out.
“Most of our starting lineup is seniors, so most of us are going to be gone next year,” Devilbiss said. “So the guys have to fill our spots, and I think they’re doing a real good job right now. It’s great to see that they can go out and just compete at the same level we do.”
The time and location for Tuesday's semifinal against York Suburban has not yet announced.