MANCHESTER — Coach Jon Eyster admitted it wasn’t the best game his team has played this year.
But at this point of the season, he’ll gladly take it.
Eyster's Northeastern Bobcats topped visiting Hershey 71-61 Thursday night in a District 3 Class 5-A boys' basketball quarterfinal contest.
The victory sends the No. 3 seed Bobcats to the semifinals Monday night at the Giant Center in Hershey against No. 10 seed York High, a surprise 53-50 winner over No. 2 seed Greencastle. Tip-off Monday is 7 p.m.
Northeastern and York High split during the regular season. The Bobcats won on their home court 75-53, while York High prevailed in the second game 72-64 in overtime.
For the defending District 3 5-A champion Bobcats, it will be the second straight year they've met a York-Adams League Division I rival in the semifinals. Last year, the Bobcats beat Spring Grove.
“We were just good enough to win tonight,” said Eyster, whose Bobcats led 49-33 early in the fourth quarter before No. 6 seed Hershey cut the deficit to 57-51 with 2 minutes, 43 seconds remaining. “We made some unforced errors and lost our composure a few times, but we did enough to win and that’s what counts.”
While Bobcats standout Antonio Rizzuto was slow to get started — he sat out a big part of the first half after taking a nasty fall and getting two fouls — the other half of Northeastern’s dynamic duo, Fred Mulbah, was red hot. He had four 3-pointers and 16 points in the first half as the Bobcats built a 30-20 halftime edge. Mulbah finished as the game’s leading scorer with 25.
“Making those outside shots helped because then it was easier to penetrate later in the game,” Mulbah said.
Mulbah and Rizzuto had Hershey coach Paul Blackburn impressed. After scoring two points in the first half, Rizzuto came on and finished with 17.
“They’re a successful program because of players like that,” he said. “At halftime we thought we could make a run, but not only Mulbah, but some of other players, made some key shots, too.”
Rizzuto said those little things add up.
“That’s what I was telling the guys before the game, do all the little things,” Rizzuto said. “Dive for the loose ball, grab the rebound, things like that”
“Everyone sees the stuff Fred and Antonio do, but if our No. 5 guy doesn’t box out their 6-foot-7 man, Antonio can’t get that rebound,” Eyster said.
Hershey (20-5) quickly cut the lead to 30-26 in the third quarter before the Bobcats (25-2) outscored the Trojans 17-7 to lead 47-33 entering the fourth quarter.
Now it’s on to the Giant Center against a familiar foe.
“We know them and they know us,” Eyster said. “It’ll just be a matter of who executes the best on the big floor.”
Game info: All tickets for the Northeastern-York High will be sold at the door at the Giant Center and are $6.
The Northeastern athletic department will provide a fan bus or buses, with enough interest. The cost will be $6 to ride the bus. Fans must sign up at the Northeastern athletic office to reserve a seat on the bus. The athletic department will accept reservations until noon Monday.
OTHER DISTRICT 3
York High 53, Greencastle-Antrim 50: At Greencastle, the 10th-seeded Bearcats upset the second-seeded Blue Devils in a District 3 Class 5-A quarterfinal.
Kyree Generett and Marquise McClean led the Bearcats by scoring 18 points apiece.
York High (15-9) moves on to the semifinals and will face York-Adams Division I rival Northeastern (25-2) at 7 p.m. Monday at the Giant Center. Northeastern is the No. 3 seed and the defending District 3 5-A champ. The two teams split their regular-season games.
Greencastle dropped to 21-4.
Kennard-Dale 72, Littlestown 59: At Fawn Grove, the Rams clinched a PIAA Class 5-A state berth with the win.
The fourth-seeded Rams (19-6) will now face ninth-seeded Bishop McDevitt (13-11) in District 3 5-A semifinal at 8 p.m. Monday at Penn Manor High School.
McDevitt stunned No. 1 seed Lancaster Catholic (22-4) on Thursday, 47-43.
No. 5 seed Littlestown dropped to 15-8. The Thunderbolts will take on Lancaster Catholic in a consolation semifinal at 6 p.m. Monday at East Pennsboro.
Carter Day (16), Joey Thomas (15) and Adam Freese (13) each hit double digits in scoring for K-D. Logan Collins led all scorers with 29 points for Littlestown.
New Oxford 56, Donegal 49: At New Oxford, the Colonials kept their season going with a District 3 5-A consolation win.
Seventh-seeded New Oxford improved to 18-8. No. 15 seed Donegal finished at 12-12.
The Colonials will face No. 14 seed Conrad Weiser in a consolation semifinal game at 8 p.m. Monday at Lebanon High School. Conrad Weiser (16-10) beat No. 11 seed Exeter on Thursday.
The winner of Monday's game will earn a state berth.
Shippensburg 53, Dover 52: At Dover, the Eagles' season came to an end with the District 3 5-A consolation setback.
The fourth-seeded Eagles finished 19-6. No. 12 seed Shippensburg moved to 15-8.
Keith Davis and Elijah Sutton had 15 points each for Dover. Victor Dorm added 12.
Reach George Hammond at email@example.com.