TAMPA — The battle between Berkeley Prep and Carrollwood Day in Tuesday night’s Class 3A, District 5 semifinal was about as wild a game as you will find, full of dramatic shots falling in and stars fouling out.
Finally, after two overtimes, Carrollwood Day prevailed 76-70, then cheered like crazy for senior forward Tony Livingston, who led all scorers with 29 points, scoring 17 of those after the Patriots’ leading scorer, Mike Trigg, fouled out midway through the fourth quarter.
“Tony Livingston won that game for us tonight,” coach Colin DeHate said. “Tony Livingston has ice in his veins (sinking five of his last six field-goal attempts and all six of his final shots at the foul line). We had several other players (step up after Trigg fouled out), but Tony came up huge.”
When Trigg fouled out with 17 points, the Patriots led 53-52. Berkeley Prep (19-6) promptly missed a couple of shots while Livingston scored four points, pushing the lead to 57-52. The Bucs, however, made two key shots, including a 3-pointer by Matt Mulfinger to tie with seven seconds remaining.
In the first overtime, Livingston scored all seven of the Patriots’ points, but Berkeley Prep still had a chance to win, rimming out a shot at the buzzer.
Livingston then scored the first four points in the second overtime and the Bucs had their second starter foul out (Mark Mulfinger, who joined teammate CJ Hawkins with five fouls).
After Matt Mulfinger fouled out about a minute later, Carrollwood Day (16-4) finally pushed its lead to a comfortable 74-67 with 30 seconds left.
“I told the team after Trigg fouled out that we have to weather the storm,” DeHate said. “I’m so proud of how we stepped up. I knew we could do it.”
Livingston said that after Trigg went to the bench for the rest of the night, “I got more focused. I got focused because I knew I had to do it. I wanted the ball because I knew I had to get it done.”
The Carrollwood Day victory sets up the district final against Bishop McLaughlin, which had no such drama in a 70-36 victory over Brooks DeBartolo in Tuesday’s other semifinal. Hurricanes Emanuel Sharp and Dillon Mitchell finished with a game-high 23 and 21 points, respectively.
“The team knows that this is the playoffs and it’s time to step up,” Bishop McLaughlin coach Derrick Sharp said. “(After 14 days of the team quarantining from COVID-19 in January) we are coming together with more energy. I feel good about where we’re at now.”
The Friday night matchup will be the first between Bishop McLaughlin (17-5) and Carrollwood Day this season.