The game for which many local prep basketball fans have been clamoring finally will occur — albeit a year later than hoped.
Tampa Prep and Jesuit, each of which has captured a state title in the last two seasons, will meet Saturday, Jan. 4, in the Berkeley Basketball Invitational, a two-day, 10-team event to be held in the Buccaneers' gym. Bright House Sports Network will televise the contest.
It will be the programs' first meeting since Feb. 2, 1999. The Terrapins prevailed 95-73 behind 6-foot-11 Duke signee Casey Sanders (28 points, 15 rebounds, eight blocks).
"That was a natural game to play, the last two state championship teams (in the county)," said Tigers coach Neal Goldman, who must replace his top six players from the team that won the Class 5A title in March. "(Berkeley athletic director) Bobby Reinhart really pushed for that and I said, 'Okay.' It was that simple."
A bit more complicated is why the teams haven't met in nearly 15 years. Terrapins coach Joe Fenlon (pictured), whose team won the 3A title in 2012, said he has lobbied for a game against Jesuit for years, to no avail. Goldman declined to comment on why the rivalry went dormant, but did say he has nothing personal against Fenlon.
Berkeley Basketball Invitational
(all games at Berkeley Prep)
Friday, Jan. 3
Tampa Catholic vs. Lakeland Kathleen, 1:30
Sarasota Cardinal Mooney vs. Jesuit, 3
Naples Community vs. Tampa Prep, 4:30
Ransom Everglades vs. Orlando Lake Highland, 6
Berkeley Prep vs. Miami Gulliver Prep, 7:30
Saturday, Jan. 4
Community vs. Kathleen, 1
Gulliver Prep vs. Cardinal Mooney, 2:30
Ransom Everglades vs. TC, 4
Tampa Prep vs. Jesuit, 6*
Berkeley Prep vs. Lake Highland, 8*
*To be televised by BHSN