The feel-good story of the year continues. The Exeter Tigers are still alive.
|Exeter blew open a tight game in the second half and defeated top-seeded Hurley, 70-57, to claim a spot in the Class 1 District 6 championship game on Friday night. Scott White's Tigers will face the Chadwick Cardinals following the girls championship between Verona and Walnut Grove.|
|The Tigers caught Hurley in a perfect trap game scenario. Hurley received a first-round bye as the top seed in the field of seven teams. Losers of their last three regular season games, Hurley had not played since Feb. 23. Exeter, fresh off the colossal upset of Walnut Grove, had two things the Hurley Tigers lacked: momentum and confidence.|
|Plus, Exeter's White had an unexpected plan of attack.|
|"When they beat us earlier in the year, we scored a lot of points from outside, which is our reputation" Coach White said. "But I also saw that we could have success against them in the post. That was the plan, and our bigs stepped up and played a great game for us."|
|Exeter was certainly not intimidated by the higher-seeded team. A slow-paced first quarter had Hurley leading by a slim 16-14 at the buzzer.|
|The pace picked up in the second quarter with both teams pressing and pushing the ball up court. The teams fought to six ties before leaving the court at intermission with the score knotted at 31-31.|
|In the third quarter, Zach Wubker led an Exeter charge to the lead. After a quiet first half in which he scored just 4 points, he exploded for 14 in the third. The Wubker Express delivered a pair of treys and four free throws as Exeter built an 8-point lead with 2:58 left in the quarter.|
But Hurley would rally and finish the third frame on a 7-2 run to trail by only 49-46 at the final break.
|As the fourth quarter unfolded, Exeter took advantage of Hurley's mounting foul count. Exeter's Justin Brattin played possessed in the lane, scoring 12 in the quarter and contributing to four Hurley starters fouling out of the contest. With 3:16 to play, Exeter led 62-53.|
More fouls and free throws followed until Hurley waved the white flag in the final 30 seconds. Wubker held the ball as the Exeter crowd stood and counted down the final seconds.
|The Tigers qualified for the district championship game and kept their improbable post-season run alive with the 70-57 victory.|
"Playing in a tough conference like the Ozark 7 really prepares a team for this," said Coach White. "There are no easy nights in our conference. When you face teams like Southwest, Thomas Jefferson, Purdy and Wheaton night after night, you develop the kind of toughness it takes to compete with these teams."
|Exeter improves to 11-15 on the season and will face Chadwick, a 70-59 winner over Niangua, in tonight's district championship game.|
Exeter scorers: Zach Wubker 20; Justin Brattin 16; Brock Sorenson 11; Tyler White 9; Cody Stringer 8; and Kong Lee 6.
|Hurley scorers; Brycton Burk 22; Steven Jennings 19; Tyler Simpson 6; Matthew Wilson 4; Alex Whittington 2; Jalyn Wilson 2; and Josh Flood 2.|