TAMPA — The host Buccaneers and Orlando Lake Highland Prep served up a dramatic ending to the Berkeley Prep Invitational boys basketball event Saturday night.
The Bucs led by nine at the half, had their lead cut to two before the fourth quarter, lost the lead and then missed a potentially tying shot with 2.7 seconds left in a 76-72 loss.
"The reason we play games like this is to gauge where we're at as a team," Bucs coach Bobby Reinhart said. "When you play at this level, you have some of your weaknesses exposed."
After beating defending Class 4A champion Pine Crest on Friday, the Bucs squared off against Class 4A runnerup Lake Highland Prep. Junior Justin Gray attacked the rim early and gobbled up rebounds for Berkeley Prep. Gray scored 12 and snagged six rebounds with three blocks, including one against Highlanders junior Joel Berry.
The Bucs' 3-point shooting created a nine-point edge going into the second half as junior Marshall Holmes (25 points) hit three for the game and freshman Jacob Mathis (12 points) hit two.
The Highlanders were able to match the Bucs' hustle as Berry scored a game-high 29 points, grabbed a pair of rebounds and had a block against Gray. Senior Denzel Davis nabbed a game-high eight rebounds and hit a crucial 3-pointer from the top of the key in the fourth quarter for the Highlanders.
In earlier action, Wharton shook off a sloppy second half from Friday and blew out Clearwater 79-47. Senior guard CJ McGill scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the first half. McGill was nearly flawless shooting and a constant presence on defense. He also had two steals, two assists and a block. Both steals went coast-to-coast for layups.
The Wildcats built a 17-point lead by halftime, stretched it to 25 after the third quarter and expanded it to 32 by the end of the game.
Earlier in the day, Tampa Catholic lost 64-55 in overtime to Ransom Everglades. Junior guard Sam Harris hit a jumper to tie the game late in the fourth, but the Crusaders fell behind in overtime and could not catch up. Junior Isiah Thomas led the Crusaders with 16 points.
In Saturday's first game, Plant fared a little better than it did Friday. Still, the Panthers fell 54-37 to Boca Raton St. Andrews. Senior Adrian Heig led the Panthers in scoring with nine points.