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Tampa Catholic withstands tough challenge from Berkeley Prep

The Crusaders don’t lead until the fourth quarter, but edge the Bucs 68-64.
Tampa Catholic's Kobe Knox dunks for two  of his 12 points in a 68-64 victory over Berkeley Prep on Friday night. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
Tampa Catholic's Kobe Knox dunks for two of his 12 points in a 68-64 victory over Berkeley Prep on Friday night. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]
Published Jan. 25

TAMPA — Before the game Friday night at Tampa Catholic, Berkeley Prep coach Renaldo Garcia told his team that for the first time this year, they would have a super tough matchup at every position.

Tampa Catholic, in fact, was pretty much bigger and taller across the board. Berkeley Prep didn’t blink.

From the start, the smaller Bucs fought hard, took the lead and held it until early in the fourth quarter.

The bigger, taller Crusaders, however, never let up and seemed to wear down the Bucs. With six minutes, 10 seconds left in the game, Tampa Catholic took its first lead, then battled to the finish for a 68-64 victory.

“(Tampa Catholic) puts a lot of pressure on you in every aspect of the game,” Garcia said. “When you have to fight extra hard for every rebound and during every position it takes a toll.”

In the final minutes, Berkeley Prep (15-3) still had a couple of chances to reel in the Crusaders (16-5) only to have a couple of long-range 3-pointers rim out.

“(Berkeley Prep) gave us everything we could look for,” Crusaders coach Don Dziagwa said. “We didn’t shoot too well in the first half (converting only one of 13 3-point attempts). But we seemed to shoot a little better in the second half and I think we did wear them down there at the end.”

For a long while it looked like the Bucs might pull off the upset, holding a 16-15 lead after the first quarter, a 37-31 lead at the half and its biggest lead, 42-31, early in the third quarter.

“But then we had a couple of minutes there where (Tampa Catholic’s) physicality stepped up,” Garcia said. “Overall I was very, very proud of our effort. We never backed off.”

In the end, Keegan Karnes led the Bucs with 16 points, followed by CJ Hawkins (13), Varun Ajjarapu (11) and RJ Garcia (six).

TC forward Johni Broome led all scorers with 20 points, scoring most of those under the basket down the final stretch. Alijah Harrison added 15, followed by Marcellus Crutchfield (13) and Kobe Knox (12).


  1. Shorecrest Prep senior Asher Rovin, who missed most of the regular season after sustaining a concussion, strikes the ball past Tallahassee Maclay's Broedy Poppell (21) in the first half at Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand on Thursday. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
  2. Plant junior Nyla Jean not only averages double digits in scoring, but she has a knack for stealing the ball from opponents. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
  3. Carrollwood Day’s Milahnie Perry scores 14 points to lead the Patriots, who get a balanced effort in the Class 3A state semifinals. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
  4. Shorecrest players hug, cry and console each other after losing to Orange Park St. Johns Country Day in the Class 2A title game at Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand. [WILLIE J. ALLEN JR.  |  Special to the Times]
  5. Points were hard to come by in the first half for forward Jakara Akins, left, and Keswick Christian, which trailed Florida A&M 22-16 at the half of a Class 2A state semifinal Wednesday afternoon. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
  6. Caitlin Blankenship, along with older sister Brooke, moves on from Academy at the Lakes, which won consecutive state titles, to River Ridge. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
  7. St. Petersburg boys basketball coach Chris Blackwell, seen here in a game earlier this season, said his team had to utilize freshmen as Tuesday's game at Fort Myers wore on ... and on ... and on for five overtimes. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
  8. East Lake's Jordan Hillmon, seen here earlier this season, scores a game-high 26 points in Tuesday's region semifinal win. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  9. Hillsborough junior Jalen Harris, seen here earlier this season, scores 16 points, including two big free throws late, on Tuesday against Lakeland. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
  10. Bayshore Christian guard Deon Brown leads all scorers with 24 points in a 68-58 victory Tuesday night over Cambridge Christian in a Class 2A region semifinal. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
  11. Clearwater coach Kris Foote, seen here in a game earlier this season, is happy to have another home game: “We get good crowds, they’ve been pumped up, and home-court advantage is big to keep things as close as possible to routine." [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  12. Jesuit coach Neal Goldman on the end of his team's season: “We got our team together at the end of the year, our chemistry was strong and we won a district championship. To get this far was pretty sweet. . . I’m proud of that.” [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]