Exeter girls basketball team surprises the county and themselves

Photo by Aimee Herbert Abby Mengel helped the Exeter High girls' basketball team win nine of its first 10 games this year.
Photo by Aimee Herbert Jennifer Eck is leading the Exeter High School girls' basketball team in scoring this season.

Let’s face it, it’s been a long time since the Exeter Township High School girls’ basketball program has been successful. Year-in and year-out, wins have been tough to come by for the Lady Eagles.

In fact, over the past seven years, the Exeter girls’ basketball team has a Berks League record of 2-73. The team’s last league win prior to this season came on Jan. 14, 2010, a 48-33 victory over Fleetwood, a team that was 0-11 coming into the game. The Eagles’ only other league win in those seven years came against Conrad Weiser almost exactly one year before the Fleetwood win. Never in that span of seven years have the Eagles won a division game.

But this year things have been different. Not only are the Lady Eagles getting some victories, but they are piling them up. Exeter won its first five games of the season, including a 42-23 victory over Daniel Boone, a division opponent.

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The Eagles went on to win nine of their first 10 games, letting the league know that they are not only back, but maybe a playoff contender.

But before we crown them league champions, maybe we should dial it back a little. The Eagles are off to a great start, but now the schedule gets tougher as they get into division games against the bigger and tougher teams.

Still, they are now ready to at least compete against any team in the league. That was something they did last year, but were never able to come out with the victory. That’s been the difference this year.

“We’re very pleased with the start,” said Exeter’s head coach Ted Snyder. “Last year we found a way to lose the close games, this year we are winning them.”

Led by Jennifer Eck (junior) and Katye Johnson (senior), the Eagles have six players back from last year’s roster who know the system and are really starting to play well.

Eck leads the team in scoring, averaging 11.7 points a game (as of Jan. 8). Johnson is right behind her with a 9.3 points a game average.

Ali Snyder is a sophomore who is scoring a little more than eight points a game, one of several underclassmen who are making significant contributions to the team.

“We still have a tendency to get down when things don’t go well, but we are improving with that,” said Coach Snyder. “My seniors have provided great leadership.”

Snyder admits that the great start his team is having was a surprise even to him. Depth is a problem for this team. For the most part, he has just used six girls in the games. It’s hard to beat bigger teams (both in size and numbers) when your only playing six girls.

As the season goes on, it gets more difficult to get away with playing just six players, especially if injuries get in the way.

“We know it will be tough because our schedule will be getting tougher, but honestly we just try to teach them how we want to try and play and focus on that and if that leads to win, great,” said Snyder.

This week the Eagles have games with Reading, Governor Mifflin and Conrad Weiser. It doesn’t get any easier after that. Coach Snyder will find out a lot about his team when they go up against other division opponents.

The question isn’t whether the team can compete with those teams, it’s if they can pull out the victory in the end.

About the Author

Ric Webb is the sports editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers. Reach the author at edwebb@berksmontnews.com or follow Ric on Twitter: @berksmontsports.