By Jean LeBlanc and Guy Stever
BERLIN — Exeter's Scott Gillis and Nick Perwowski combined to score 35 points, leading Exeter to a convincing 45-31 victory over the Berlin Mountaineers in the finals of the Division I Unified Basketball Tournament, played at the University of New Hampshire on Saturday. The win completed a perfect 12-0 season for the top ranked Blue Hawks and was their first title in Unified basketball.
The third ranked Mountaineers suffered their first loss in 2016-17. It was the second straight season that Berlin was the runner-up team in a division that has over 40 high schools take part in the sport.
Exeter reached the finals with wins over White Mountains 48-41, Nashua South 53-40, and Somersworth 53-48.
The Mountaineers battled their way to UNH with victories over Gilford 38-18, three-time defending champs Keene 28-22, and ConVal 28-25.
In the first quarter, the Hawks jumped out to an 8-4 lead. Gillis had six points and a Bayz Moreau bucket provided the Hawk scoring.
The Mounties got single hoops from Randy and Roger Belanger.
Berlin's cold shooting from the floor, kept it from making any headway into the Exeter lead. The Hawks outscored Berlin 10-4 to take an 18-8 lead into the locker room. Nick Perwowski had all 10 points for the Blue Hawks. Roger Belanger had both hoops for Berlin in the second quarter.
Berlin did get its offense on track in the third quarter, however, Perwowski was just too strong. Exeter outscored Berlin 13-11, with Perwowski netting 11 of those points.
Roger Belanger had three hoops, Randy Belanger had a hoop and a free throw and a Julia Gray bucket accounted for the Mountaineer points.
Gillis heated up again in the final eight minutes of play for Exeter, leading the Hawks as they outscored Berlin 14-12. Gillis had eight points for the Hawks, while Jerry Healy, Austin White and Roger Belanger each had two hoops each for the Mounties.
For the game, Exeter was led by Perwowski, who had a game-high 21 points, and Gillis, who added 14.
Roger Belanger's 18 points paced the Berlin offense.