PARK SLOPE, BK-Entering their final game of the regular season, Berkeley Carroll had an opportunity to clinch second place in their division. Ultimately, the task proved too tough to accomplish. Despite a yeoman effort, the Lions fell short to the Pelicans 79-60 on Senior Day at a loud BC Athletic Center in Brooklyn. The defeat was technically their first on home court, dropping them to the third seed for next week’s ACIS playoffs.
The game was much closer than the final score. After getting blown out at Packer’s gym, Berkeley Carroll was motivated to settle the score. Before they tipped off against their closest rival, coach Carmine Giovino honored two outstanding seniors for their dedication to the basketball program. That included four-year Lion Dondre Benson, who’s played every role for a proud coach who praised his student athlete’s commitment on and off the court. The team oriented Benson was presented with a bouquet. Even more emotional was honoree Josh Rosas. The senior missed the entire season due to injury. It didn’t stop him from supporting his teammates every step of the way. As was noted in a previous post, it’s never easy to miss significant time. It speaks to Rosas’ character.
A great presentation was followed by some great basketball. Neither side gave an inch in an ultra competitive first quarter that may as well have been confused for a playoff game. The battle level was intense and the pace frenetic. Due to Packer’s length, Giovino started junior Josiah Murrell to offset the Pelicans’ biggest edge. It proved to be a wise move with Murrell scoring six of his eight early. He had a put back and scored off a couple of nice passes, including one from sophomore Shawn Hicks. Hicks delivered a big game, pacing the Lions with 27.
The bulk of the scoring came from Murrell, Hicks and junior Shane Pearley early. They combined for 15 of the Lions’ 17. Packer’s size proved to be a problem. It took a while for junior Feldman to get going. Once he settled in, it was an uphill climb for the Lions, who were pulverized on the glass. Feldman topped all scorers with 35 and pulled down nearly 20 rebounds. He only got five in the first. Other teammates were involved, including Miller who dialed up long distance. He finished with 14 including an energizing jam off a steal that got the Packer side going.
Trailing by four, a determined Pearley scored the last four on a couple of strong drives to even the score at 17 after one. Following a Pelicans’ mini-run at the start of the second stanza, the Lions came right back thanks to a hoop from sophomore Chris Harper and a Ryan Hobbs free throw. The trouble with Packer is they’re very dangerous. Two consecutive three’s restored the lead to six (29-23). But the Lions hung in thanks to a 6-2 spurt to crawl within 31-29 with two minutes to go in the half. Pearley and Hicks hit from the field and Hicks added a pair from the line.
Even though they were allowing Feldman to score at will in the paint, Berkeley Carroll was right there. But before they got comfortable, Packer erupted to score the final seven. It was highlighted by a three before the buzzer that extended the lead to nine (38-29).
Packer came out looking to bury the Lions. They scored the first four to open up a 13-point lead. However, Hicks answered with five straight. He hit a step back trey from the left key and made a difficult leaner off a wild sequence to pull Berkeley Carroll within five (42-37). A Feldman three-point play restored Packer’s lead to eight. Again, the Lions didn’t back down. Hicks scored on a scoop to the hoop and Pearley followed with a fancy finish to make it 45-41.
If there was a turning point, it was when Murrell was called for an intentional foul. Another Feldman bucket put the Pelicans up six. Following a BC turnover, Feldman had a breakaway. But Murrell hustled back to foul him. However, the officials felt Murrell gave him a little extra resulting in the intentional which Giovino protested. But the lead ref gave a detailed explanation, ending the dispute. When the dust settled, Feldman drained a pair and then inflicted damage by scoring on another put back to turn it into a four-point possession. Just like that, the Lions trailed by 10 with 2:51 left in the third.
A Hicks long range bomb helped the resilient Lions cut it to seven. Every time they got close, Feldman answered. A 5-0 run included a driving hoop inside to restore order. Packer led by a dozen (58-46) after three.
Berkeley Carroll wasn’t done. They twice cut the deficit to six. Freshman Jimmy Council (11) scored from 10 feet. Hicks had another tough bucket to help the Lions cut it to 63-57. That was as close as they got. Packer went on a 9-1 run pushing the lead to 14 (72-58). Feldman scored six and Miller hit from downtown. It was enough to finally put the pesky Lions away.
The question is will it be the final time they see them. If the Lions can take something out of the game, it’s that they never quit. They’ve been a tough bunch all year. Now, it’s about raising their level in the postseason. A team that came together under Giovino and assistants Terrence Caufield and Reed Morgan should be ready. We’ll see if they can deliver under pressure.