Exeter High School’s 42-year championship drought in boys basketball … it’s all over!

DURHAM — Exeter High School's 42-year championship drought in boys basketball … it's all over!

Led by a smothering defense and blistering second-half pace, the top-seeded Blue Hawks capped their perfect season and long-awaited state title celebration with a 53-30 win over No. 2 Salem in Saturday's final in Durham.

Without a doubt, 21-0 Exeter put on a show in front of thousands at old Lundholm Gym.

They piled up 12 steals and forced 19 turnovers. Senior Kevin Henry had 18 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore Josh Morissette and junior Ryan Grijalva added 11 points apiece.

They helped clinch just the second Exeter hoop title in school history, and first since the 1977 team won Class I. The program's only other Class L or Division I final appearance came in a losing effort to Matt Bonner and Concord High School back in 1998; Exeter coach Jeff Holmes, now in his 22nd year, was in his first year at the helm during that '98 season.

It was a four-point game, 23-19, at halftime, but the Blue Hawks put the pedal down over the final 16 minutes outscoring Salem by a 30-11 margin.

Ben Laycock was Salem's leading scorer with eight points. The Blue Devils finished at 19-3 overall.