TAMPA — Brooks DeBartolo wanted to make a statement against visiting Berkeley Prep on Wednesday night. Mainly that the Phoenix were the real deal.
No doubt about it now. Brooks DeBartolo hung tough throughout the game, then down the stretch was just plain tougher, ultimately securing a 45-38 victory over the Bucs, who according to MaxPreps came into the game ranked No. 6 in Class 3A, or 16 places higher than the Phoenix.
The difference in Wednesday’s outcome arguably came down to sheer effort, a notion not lost on Berkeley Prep coach Renaldo Garcia.
“(Brooks DeBartolo) wanted it more than us,” Garcia said. “They controlled the glass and they were the more physical team.”
The Phoenix (11-3) were particularly intense on defense, almost exclusively in their suffocating man-to-man that has held every opponent so far (except one game that went into overtime) to under 60 points.
“We work every day, every day on defense,” Brooks DeBartolo coach Lavel Dumont said. “We pride ourselves on defense.”
The Phoenix defense, in fact, almost completed a shutout in the fourth quarter, holding Berkeley Prep (13-3) to only four points, including only one point in the final five minutes.
“I felt like it was typical for us,” said Brooks DeBartolo sophomore George Kimble, who finished with 10 points, including eight in the final quarter. “We focus on playing defense and then our offense gets points off our defense. We focus on defense and then we really never get tight.”
Maybe that’s why Brooks DeBartolo didn’t seem to worry at all when Berkeley took a five-point lead late in the third quarter and appeared to be gaining some momentum.
“We always feel like our defense will keep us in it,” Kimble said.
Under the basket, Phoenix senior forward Trae Martin presented many problems, blocking five shots and scoring a team-high 13 points. Berkeley was led by senior guard Mark Mulfinger with 15 points, followed by RJ Garcia II with 10.