Sometimes it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen in high school basketball. The Exeter High boys’ basketball team lost all five of its starters to graduation last year. That normally means a struggling team the following season.
But the Eagles have fooled everyone with a very good start to the 2013-14 season. With victories over Daniel Boone and Governor Mifflin, the Eagles are off to a 2-0 start in the Berks League, and are 6-2 overall, including a second place finish in the Wyomissing Holiday Tournament.
“I’m very excited by the way the team has started the season,” said Exeter head coach Kevin Boettlin. “Each game we are getting confidence and the defensive effort has been tremendous.”
The defense has indeed been playing well, holding the opposition to an average of 40 points per game. Meanwhile, the Exeter offense has scored 50 more points in five of the eight games.
The team is led by co-captain Bret Gilbert, who is the only senior starter. Coach Boettlin likes what he has seen out of Gilbert so far.
“Bret is a leader, a good role model, a student of the game and one of our better shooters,” said Boettlin. “He has worked hard in the off season and we’re looking forward to his contributions his year.”
With only one senior in the starting line-up, the Eagles are going to have to rely on some younger players to pick-up their game. Sophomore Michal Menet has been one of those players.
“Michal has become a solid inside player with soft hands and great agility,” said Boettlin. He has also worked on the mid range game which is making him a dual threat and giving opponents match up issues.”
Menet has been providing a good bit of the offensive fire power for the Eagles. He is second on the team in scoring with 87 total points, averaging 10.9 points a game.
The leading scoring on the team has been Daniel Garcia Jr., a transfer from Reading High. He is the starting point guard and has been a real pleasant surprise. Not only does he run the offense as the point guard, but he is averaging 12.3 points a game.
Boettlin also likes what he sees in junior Taylor Trojanowski. He played in only nine varsity games last year so he has a lot to learn, but he seems to be learning quickly. He’s third on the team in scoring during the early going, averaging 7.3 points a game, but his value is mostly on the defensive side of the court.
“Taylor has a high upside,” said the coach. “He attacks the basket very well and has a solid jump shot. Taylor has been one our top defenders and usually has the assignment covering our opponents top player, which he has excelled at.”
Luis Arnot is another junior whose contributions don’t always show up in a boxscore.
“He gives 100 percent each day, rebounds on both sides very well and will do anything you ask,” said Boettlin. “He has been showing leadership qualities and is great teammate.”
So far this young team has shown that they can compete at the varsity level. The questions is can they compete for a playoff berth? The answer may come soon, as they come up against the bigger schools like Reading and Wilson. Beating teams like those two will be tough, but it will be interesting to see if they can stay with them throughout the game.
Despite the inexperience of the Eagles, the goal is always to make the playoffs, both league and district playoffs. So far it looks like they will have a fighting chance to reach both goals. But there is still a long way to go.
“We have good shooters, a solid inside presence and a group of kids who play together as a team,” said Boettlin.
Now we’ll see if they can keep the good start going the rest of the season.