BERLIN - Playing from behind for almost the entire game, senior Holden Murphy tried to will the No. 8 Berlin boys basketball team to a win. It just wasn’t enough.
Despite Murphy’s efforts and his 25 points, the rest of the Redcoats managed just 24 points, and No. 9 Amistad used a dominant second half to pull off a 70-49 upset on the road and end Berlin’s season in Thursday night’s second-round matchup in the Division III state tournament.
The Redcoats (14-7) trailed by just four at halftime, but the Wolves caught fire in the third quarter and finished with nine 3-pointers on the night. Kyle Hartley led the 3-point attack for Amistad (16-6), shooting 4-for-4 from downtown to help the Wolves outscore Berlin 19-8 in a decisive third quarter.
“They shot the lights out,” Berlin head coach Mike Veneziano said. “That’s a great team. They can win Division III. They’re very balanced and disciplined.”
Hartley was one of four Amistad scorers in double figures, while Gianni Fanelli reached double-digits for the Redcoats with 14.
“They played six guys and they all scored,” Veneziano said. “That’s kind of been our crutch all season. We rely on two guys to score, and when we play good teams we need other guys to score. Tonight we didn’t get that.”
The home crowd was subdued into silence to start the game as Isaiah Joyner grabbed three offensive rebounds to spark an 8-1 Wolves run to set the tone for the night.
“They destroyed us on the offensive glass,” Veneziano said. “I think we only had one offensive rebound all night.”
Murphy got Berlin back within striking distance with seven straight points, including a deep 3-pointer to pull the Redcoats within two. Fanelli knocked down a 3 of his own minutes later, followed by another from Murphy to give Berlin a 15-13 lead and finish off a 14-2 run to wake up its boisterous student section. Jaden Ratliff ended the first quarter, and the Redcoats’ run, with a 3-point play to help the Wolves reclaim the lead for good.
A deep 3 by Eli Blackwell helped Amistad start the second on an 8-0 run to regain control. The Redcoats almost ended the run with a 2-on-1 break, but Fanelli missed the layup and the follow-up attempt was sent out of bounds thanks to an emphatic block by Ratliffe. Fanelli missed two more fastbreak layups in the second quarter, as the Redcoats squandered multiple opportunities to draw closer before the halftime break.
Despite the mishaps in transition, Berlin clawed back behind Murphy, who finished with 19 points in the first half and the scored team’s last five points to pull within one. But Amistad extended the lead on its final possession of the half thanks to a 3 from Hartley, his second in as many possessions to give the Wolves a four-point edge at the half.
Offensive rebounds stung the Redcoats again early in the third, as Ratliff cleaned up an Amistad miss to put the Wolves ahead by nine, their largest lead of the game at that point. Hartley’s third triple in as many attempts pushed the advantage to 12 with one minute remaining in the third.
“They made their shots and we didn’t execute,” Murphy said. “They were really disciplined once they got the lead. We’ve come back a lot this year, but they played really disciplined.”
Amistad burned the Redcoats again on the final possession of the quarter, as AJ Edwards knocked down a 3 at the third quarter buzzer to put Berlin down 15 heading into the final period.
The Redcoats tried to spark a comeback with a Fanelli 3 to start the fourth, but Cyprien Joseph answered back with a 3-point play to the Wolves back ahead by 15.
Hartley provided the dagger with 5:47 left in the fourth, knocking down his fourth three of the night to give Amistad a comfortable 20-point lead.
Down 19 with 1:21 to go, Veneziano subbed out his seniors, including Murphy, for the last time.
NO. 9 AMISTAD 70, NO. 8 BERLIN 49
Amistad 16 15 19 20 - 70
Berlin 15 12 8 14 - 49
Amistad: Jaden Ratliff 6-1-13, AJ Edwards 4-4-14, Isaiah Joyner 3-1-7, Cyprien Joseph 6-3-17, Eli Blackwell 2-2-7, Kyle Hartley 4-0-12 Totals: 25-11-70.
Berlin: Ryan Hyde 3-0-6, Holden Murphy 8-5-24, Jeff Media 1-0-2, Giancarlo Tufano 0-0-0, Alex Halkias 0-0-0, Gianni Fanelli 3-3-14, John Addamo 1-0-2. Totals: 16-8-49.
Three-point goals: Holden Murphy (B) 4, Kyle Hartley (A) 4, Gianni Fanelli (B) 3, AJ Edwards (A) 2, Cyprien Joseph (A) 2, Eli Blackwell (A).
Records: Berlin 14-7, Amistad 16-6.