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3.2 Hershey vs 7.6 Bethel Park: Preview via David Bray Jr.

3.2 Hershey vs 7.6 Bethel Park: Preview via David Bray Jr.

Written by: Dell Jackson on March 8, 2024


3.2 Hershey vs 7.6 Bethel Park
Match-up Preview

By: David Bray Jr

As the playoffs begin tonight, we take a look at the matchup between the 2 seed from Section 3, 20-4 Hershey who invited the 6 seed from WPIAL, 13-13 Bethel Park to their home for the first round of the PIAA Tournament. 

First let’s look at the away team. Bethel Park travels from the Pittsburgh area to Chocolatetown, USA to take on Hershey. Bethel Park has a very strong defensive presence, with the ability to take over a game through steals and costly mistakes by the opposing team. This is a very quick team on defense and they expose a lot of teams who cannot push the ball up the court effectively and break a press. However, being this aggressive could push the Blackhawks into some foul trouble, causing them to sink into their bench. Bethel Park’s victories are polar opposites of each other, with them beating Ringgold 90-49 in the regular season and upsetting #6 seed South Fayette in the WPIAL playoffs 34-32 in a big defensive focused game. Bethel Park also limited the Section 7 #3 seed, Shaler to only 35 points in the second round of the playoffs. On offense, Bethel Park likes to control the tempo of the game, often by slowing down, almost like Virginia has been this year in the NCAA. They don’t have a true #1 option as #00 Shawn Davis and #10 Jack Bruckner have been effective scorers. #2 Nick Brown has been solid, penetrating the lane and finding openings for teammates. Bethel Park is a bigger team, with Davis being 6’4, #3 Paul Digbeu being 6’5, and #5 Tanner Pfeuffer being 6 ‘6 off the bench. The Blackhawks gather a lot of offensive rebounds with Davis and Digbeu being a large part of that proportion. Despite their success on the defensive end, recent results have shown that they lack an offensive threat to push themselves towards larger leads, like the WPIAL game against Shaler where they lost 35-26. As they have achieved upsets in the past as the #11 seed Bethel Park hopes to take that momentum into the first round of the PIAA tournament.

Hershey has been a very solid team all year, with only 4 losses to their credit. The Mid-Penn and Section 3 runner-ups have been explosive during the playoffs, overcoming many different teams in the span of their year and have put themselves in a good spot for success. A big piece for them has been #34 Isaiah Danner, a 6 ‘6 big man who can establish himself in the paint and explode for big games like a 27 point performance against Conrad Weiser and 17 points against Warwick in the Section 3 playoffs. Guards #2 Cameron Sweeney and #10 Logan Richards have stood out for them this season including good shooting from the perimeter. With recency, #3 Derek Guzman exploded with 21 points against Mechanicsburg in the Section 3 final and kept the Trojans in the game. That being said, Guzman also poses a presence on the opposite side of the ball with Hershey having a defense that has limited many high octane offenses before. Sweeney is a catalyst when it comes to turnovers on the defensive end, turning steals into easy layups on the other end of the floor. Hershey can play a press and it has been effective against teams like Milton Hershey who coughed up turnovers to extend the Hershey lead early in the season. Despite their size, Hershey can have some trouble with rebounding as shown by their championship game against Mechanicsburg where they were out-rebounded 11 to 1 in a single quarter of the game. Hershey needs to stay out of foul trouble to stay in this game as against Cumberland Valley in the Mid-Penn championship, they lost Cameron Sweeney and caused the offense to lose a little of its spark, leading Cumberland Valley to take the win. This team can win, they just need to find the right pieces to succeed in crunchtime and take back the winning momentum they carried in the regular season.

The game tonight is at Hershey High School and tip-off will be at 6:00 pm. For tickets, you must purchase them at the PIAA website online as they will not be sold at the gate. If you cannot make the game, fortunately, I will be in attendance and will provide updates on my X (formerly Twitter) at @KeystoneBBall. This game will for sure be a good one as both of these teams have proven they have what it takes to make it here, but now it is time to execute. The winner will take on the winner of the matchup between Section 7 #5 seed Fox Chapel and Section 10 #1 seed Cathedral Prep. 


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