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TAMPA — This morning, Berkeley Prep assistant T.J. Norman returns to his job as a U.S. Army chief warrant officer piloting Black Hawk helicopters. With another deployment overseas looming, he was sent off Tuesday by the Buccaneers with a series of gift baskets.
They were of the 3-point variety.
Three treys by three Berkeley players sparked a 17-4 third-quarter run, lifting the Bucs (14-5, 3-0) to a 66-59 victory against Tampa Catholic (16-3, 3-1) in a fast, physical game with Class 3A, District 10 implications.
TC fought back to within a point, 55-54, on Lashawn Harrison’s free throw with 2:46 to play, but Berkeley forced three turnovers in the last 90 seconds and made five of seven free throws down the stretch after a 2-for-8 start from the line.
“This hasn’t sealed anything for us,” said Bucs coach Bobby Reinhart, whose team travels to TC a week from Friday in an equally crucial contest in this four-team district.
“This is a good win because I know they’re a very good basketball team. We know we’re pretty good, but I like the resiliency that we’ve had lately. We haven’t really gotten it done pretty, but we’ve really battled and fought in games that we’ve won recently.”
Behind a breakneck transition game, TC broke out to an early seven-point lead but watched the hosts claw their way back. Berkeley took its biggest lead of the first half, 23-17, on backup Mike Seward’s jumper and led by four at halftime.
The Crusaders embarked on a 10-0 third-quarter run behind junior Nick Aguila’s six points for a 38-32 lead before Berkeley answered with its decisive spurt. Seward, Alex Goldenberg and Josh Williams had treys, while Tyler Davis’ traditional three-point play capped it.
Following Harrison’s free throw that made it 55-54, Davis added another old-fashioned three-point play with 2:31 remaining. With 1:03 to play, he converted Nelson Agholor’s no-look pass from the free-throw line into an easy layup to make it 62-56.
Davis (12 points) was one of four Bucs in double figures. Harrison’s 23 led TC, which played without 6-foot-5 senior James St. Marc, who was on a school trip to Montreal.
“I told our guys they just outplayed us,” said TC coach Don Dziagwa, whose team had won seven in a row coming in. “They deserved to win, we didn’t deserve to win. We didn’t do the little things we had been doing well.”