Wellsboro boys dominate East Juniata

As the fourth quarter continued to wind down Wellsboro’s Matt Reese dribbled the ball back and fourth at the top of the key, patiently waiting to make his next move toward the basket.

And as Reese dribbled, contemplating the Green Hornets’ next play, the chants of “You can’t guard him” ringing from the Wellsboro student section seemed more and more fitting.

While appearing almost unguardable at times, Reese seemingly carried Wellsboro to a 53-29 District 4 AA semifinal win over East Juniata on Wednesday night at Montoursville.

The senior guard attacked the basket relentlessly in the second half, scoring a game-high 16 points while making acrobatic layup after acrobatic layup.

“They started putting a little more ball pressure on me,” Reese said after the win. “And they were giving me the baseline and our big guys were able to seal off 11 (Coder), but it was tough to finish over him.”

And when the Green Hornets needed him the most, Reese stepped up. When Wellsboro started having bad possessions and started taking bad shots, Reese took over.

“We got a little complacent on offense and took a shot on the third or fourth pass,” Wellsboro head coach Todd Outman said. “That’s what he is to this team. He’s the leader on the floor.”

With Reese and Jordan Jackson leading the way on offense – the duo outscored East Juniata, 31-29 – Wellsboro could focus on suffocating the Tigers on the defensive side of the ball.

“We knew coming in that Lorenz and Coder were the two guys we needed to stop,” Outman said. “Matt (Reese) is just tenacious on defense and he is a tremendous on-ball defender. And the guy that stepped up tonight was Kieron Smethers. We needed that tonight.”

Smethers, despite giving up several inches, drew the assignment of guarding East Juniata’s Bailey Coder. The undersized forward didn’t step down, though, as he smothered the Tigers’ big man who went scoreless.

“It was huge. He had a huge defensive effort tonight,” Reese said of Smethers. “He played like an animal. I’ve never seen him play like that before.”

And even when Smethers was occupied with Coder in the paint, he still made highlight reel-quality plays on the perimeter, stepping out to the 3-point line to stuff shots from Dillon Leonard and Nick Lorenz.

“He rotated well to pick them up and we didn’t want to give them a lot of looks because they shoot a lot of 3’s and make a lot,” Outman said. “He is so long and they don’t anticipate the length of his arms and he gets there and ends up blocking it.”

Wellsboro (53)

Joe Doganiero 2 0-0 5, Jordan Jackson 7 0-0 15, Matt Reese 8 0-1 16, Dylan Prough 2 0-3 6, Jermaine Brooks 0 0-0 0, Mike Pietropola 2 0-0 4, Kyler Widows 0 0-0 0, Nick Marple 0 0-0 0, Dawson Prough 0 0-0 0, Kieron Smethers 3 3-4 9, Jake Mitchell 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 3-8 53.

East Juniata (29)

Jake Sankey 1 0-0 2, Nick Lorenz 2 6-7 10, Jeremy Pannebaker 0 2-2 2, David Brantley 3 0-0 8, Evan Kline-Geffert 0 0-0 0, Bailey Coder 0 0-0 0, Chas Maguire 0 0-0 0, Dillon Leonard 2 0-0 5, Cole Snyder 0 0-0 0, Jay Pillot 0 0-0 0, Delvin Hockenbroch 1 0-0 2, Clayton Erhard 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 8-9 29.

Wellsboro 17 12 12 12 – 53

East Juniata 6 11 8 9 – 29

3-Point goals: Wellsboro 2 (Doganiero, Jackson), East Juniata 3 (Brantley 2, Leonard)