For more than 2½ quarters, things were going according to plan for Berlin’s boys basketball team.
The Indians were keeping the pace of the game down, negating East Troy’s noticeable size advantage and staying ahead on the scoreboard.
One surge changed all of that.
The Trojans went on a 12-3 run over the final three minutes of the third quarter and never let the underdog Indians regain the lead, handing Berlin a 57-44 defeat in a WIAA Division 3 sectional final at a jam-packed Arrowhead gym on Saturday afternoon.
We did a pretty good job most of the game of not giving them easy ones but that one stretch. Momentum started to snowball a little bit,” Berlin coach Andy Kasuboski said. “
The decisive run started with a banked in 3-pointer by the Trojans’ and included a fast break dunk by Brett Prahl, one of the few times East Troy was able to score in transition the entire game.
Three Toby Hegner free throws were the only points for Berlin during that stretch, the last sending the Indians into the fourth quarter trailing 38-31.
“They started feeding off that momentum and defensively, they played a little bit better,” Kasuboski said. “When they did start to get that lead, it just seemed like everything was a little more difficult.”
Berlin, which trailed 9-2 early on before leading almost the entire second quarter, twice got as close as four points in the fourth quarter.
Michael Falk’s 3-pointer with 3:32 remaining sliced East Troy’s lead to 44-40, while a basket by Hegner a minute later answered a Trojan basket.
But that would be as close as the Indians could get.
East Troy scored on layups on back-to-back possessions to push the lead to 1:15 left and then made 7-of-8 free throws in the final 52 seconds — Dodge made all six of his attempts in that stretch to — to widen the final margin.
“We knew it was going to be tough. We came out with everything we had,” Hegner said. “We knew they were going to make a run. … Basketball is a game of runs and they had theirs at the right time and we couldn’t get it back.”
Hegner finished with 28 points on 9-of-20 shooting in his final game for Berlin, including hitting 3-of-8 3-pointers — something that he hasn’t been part of the Creighton recruit’s repertoire a lot this season.
“I didn’t have it that much this year, but I came out with confidence today,” said Hegner, who also added 14 rebounds. “I knew I was going to have to make some shots to keep us in the game. They started to fall in the second half.”
Falk added 14 points, including a 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter to snap a 7½-minute scoring drought for the Indians.
His wing 3-pointer about two minutes into the second quarter also gave Berlin its first lead at 14-11.
“Michael had a great game and a great season, too,” Kasuboski said. “Controlling the game, making sure we didn’t fall into the up and down game we wanted to play and knocking down shots.”
Hegner and Falk, who combined for 42 of the Indians’ 44 points, scored all seven points in a surge late in the second quarter that gave Berlin its biggest lead at 21-15.
As the halftime buzzer sounded, though, Dodge chucked in a near-half court shot that cut the Indians’ advantage in half going into intermission.
“That was a big play, too,” Kasuboski said of Dodge’s heave. “Going into the half with just a three-point lead. A six-point lead would have been huge.
“This is a special group. Toby makes it a special group, partly, but they are as good as kids as you can find.”
Notes: Peter Schrader was the only other player to score for the Indians. … Berlin went 7-of-10 from the free-throw line, while East Troy finished 10-of-11. … Brett Prahl led East Troy with 20, while Dodge finished with 19.
Game ball: Hegner, for his stellar 28-point, 14-rebound effort in his final game for Berlin.
Numbers game: 3, the number of players who scored in the game for Berlin.
Berlin…5 16 10 13 — 44
East Troy…9 9 20 19 — 57
Berlin: Schrader 2, Hegner 28, Falk 14. 3-pointers: 6 (Hegner 3, Falk 3). FTs: 7-10. Total fouls: 12.
East Troy: Dodge 19, Ilomcaie 4, Mitchell 2, B. Prahl 20, A. Prahl 12. 3-pointers: 5 (Dodge 3, B. Prahl 2). FTs: 10-11. Total fouls: 8.