COLUMBIA - A dream season on the hardwood for a school known more for its success in football ended in disappointment as the Berkeley High boys dropped a close 46-39 decision to three-time state champion Dorman on Friday night in the Colonial Life Arena.
Berkeley’s best season ever ended at 26-2. Both of Berkeley’s losses came to state championship teams. The other defeat came over the Christmas break to SCISA AAA champion Cardinal Newman.
Dorman (28-3), known as one of the state’s better defensive teams, limited the Stags to 36.2 percent shooting and forced 21 turnovers. The Stags made just 1 of 9 shots from beyond the arc.
Berkeley coach Joe Wallace, while disappointed, could not praise the effort of his team enough.
“What a historic season we had,” Wallace said. “Our community, for the last month or so, have done a great job of supporting us, and we really appreciate that. They rallied around us, and tonight felt like a home game.
“The guys worked really hard this year. We accomplished all of our goals, except one. I am very proud of these young men and very proud of their commitment.”
The Stags kept the contest close, a goal of Wallace’s coming in. Berkeley trailed 23-22 at halftime and 33-27 after three quarters. The Stags were down by seven points before one last run. A basket by Trevur Smalls cut Dorman’s lead to 41-37 with 1:05 remaining in the game. But the Cavaliers were able to seal the game with free throws down the stretch.
Smalls finished the game with 10 points while senior point guard DJ Chisolm led Berkeley with 14 points. Berkeley’s leading scorer for the season, forward Ishan White, finished with seven points and 13 rebounds.
“I think we had some turnovers that were uncharacteristic of us, but that’s part of the game,” Wallace said. “Even with those turnovers, we had a shot to win. That’s a testament of the character of our team.”
Berkeley’s defensive effort was solid as well. The Stags limited Dorman to 38 percent shooting and forced 16 turnovers. Dorman managed just three of 16 shooting from beyond the arc.
“The game went how I expected it to go, back and forth,” Wallace said. “I didn’t think we would blow them out and I didn’t think they would blow us out. It was a great basketball game. Not the ending we had hoped for, but a great game.”