Northeastern braces for tough test in title game
Bobcats topple Spring Grove, highlighted by Fred Mulbah's highlight-reel dunk. (Teddy Feinberg/GameTimePA.com)
It's championship time for the Northeastern Bobcats, and a formidable opponent awaits.
That would be the Mechanicsburg Wildcats, who bring a 22-5 overall record, a No. 2 seed in the District 3 Class 5A tournament bracket, and a quality overall team.
Friday's district title game is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. at Giant Center in Hershey.
“They’re good. ... They’re playing really well right now," said Northeastern head coach Jon Eyster. "They’re scoring more points the last two or three weeks than they’ve scored all year. They’ve really picked up the pace and tempo a lot.”
That was on display during Monday's 56-45 district semifinal win against No. 6-seed Milton Hershey. Eyster said he was impressed by point guard Kyle Scheib, pointing to the senior's ability to break down Milton Hershey's pressure defense and draw fouls in the process.
The Wildcats also have some perimeter scoring to go along with quality 6-foot-5 post player Cade Alioth.
And that could be the key litmus test in this contest.
The YAIAA is a guard-oriented league, and when the Bobcats faced arguably the area's best big man — York Catholic's Melik Martin in the league semifinals — the 6-foot-5 senior gave them all they could handle inside, finishing with 20 points.
“We’ll have to deal with a post guy. That always creates problems for us," Eyster said.
The Bobcats' head coach added that above all else, his team must be cognizant of Alioth's ability to rebound the basketball.
"He just cleans up the offensive glass," Eyster said. "That’s maybe his biggest asset for them."
As for the Bobcats, they played an exceedingly strong semifinal against Spring Grove, winning 78-58 on Monday. Northeastern was clicking on all cylinders, draining seven 3-pointers in the first half and outscoring the Rockets 21-7 in the third quarter.
“We were pretty hot," said Bobcats guard Fred Mulbah. "I can say it was one of the best shooting performances that we’ve ever had.”
A similar showing would likely bode well against the Wildcats.
“We’ll get shots," Eyster said. "Whether we make enough or not, that remains to be seen Friday.”
It's been a standout year for the No. 1-seeded Bobcats, and they'll look to carry their renewed vigor into the district championship.
“When we play focused and we have a little composure," Eyster said, "we’re going to be in every game.”
If you go
What: District 3 Class 5A championship game
Who: No. 1 Northeastern (24-2) vs. No. 2 Mechanicsburg (22-5)
When: 8:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Giant Center, Hershey
Live: Follow live updates at GameTimePA.com.