TAMPA — The Friday night lineup at the Berkeley Prep Invitational featured last season’s Class 4A state finalists.
The host Buccaneers locked up with reigning 4A state champion Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest in the late game. The Bucs took a 15-point lead into halftime, then held on for a 52-43 win over the team that knocked them out of last season’s state semifinals.
“We wanted to beat (Pine Crest) real bad; it was a sense of redemption tonight,” junior forward Justin Gray said. “Last year they out-rebounded, out-hustled us. We were determined we were gonna get all those 50-50 balls.”
Gray backed up his approach to the game with tremendous hustle for boards and loose balls, while attacking the rim. Gray led the Bucs with 16 points and picked up five rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots.
The Bucs went on a 9-0 run to start the game and controlled the pace most of the first half. The third quarter belonged to Pine Crest as it went on an 11-4 run and pulled to within three points. Pine Crest got a big lift from 6-foot-10 sophomore center Antonio
Vrankovic, who scored all 14 of his points in the second half. The Bucs moved Gray over to cover Vrankovic and were able to take back control in the fourth quarter.
“(Vrankovic) is a tough, physical player. Guarding him is tough,” Gray said.
In earlier action, Wharton faced off with 4A state finalist Lake Highland Prep. The Wildcats dominated the first half behind senior Sir Patrick Reynolds’ team-high 23 points. Reynolds was 5 of 6 from 3-point land and grabbed four rebounds. But a 22-5 blowout third quarter put Wharton behind for good. Reynolds hit two 3s in the final period but it was not enough as the Wildcats fell 66-55.
In the first game, Plant was wiped out 60-37 by Ransom Everglades. Senior Alex Mitura led the Panthers with 11 points.