Berkeley Springs falls 41-27 in Regional final
The final score is deceiving, but Berkeley Springs lost its bid for a state tournament berth on Friday, March 9, at East Hardy High School in the Class AA Region II title game to Petersburg 41-27. The Indians came into the contest an underdog, but took the fight to Petersburg, before a late rally gave the Vikings the double-digit victory.
"We had about a two minute mental lapse that really cost us," said Berkeley Springs coach Chad Brinegar. "I thought we had a good plan and did a very good job of implementing it, until we lost focus for a brief period of time. Petersburg came into the game averaging more than 60 points a game. We took away their outside game and did a good job of being patient on offense. We were right there, but just could not quite get it done. Give Petersburg some credit, however. They did a good job of handling the ball and making free throws in the final minutes of the game."
The biggest problem for Berkeley Springs, besides converting on the offensive side of the ball, was Petersburgs' senior point guard John Webster. Webster had terrific game, scoring a game-high 19 points, handling the ball on offense and creating havoc on defense.
"Webster is a nice player," Brinegar said. "He really came up big in this game and made a big difference."
Webster scored Petersburg's only basket of the second quarter with 3:03 remaining in the half, cutting the lead to 13-10. Foster Sirbaugh then made one of two free throws to close out the second-quarter scoring and the Indians headed to the break with a 4-point lead, 14-10.
"We did a nice job defensively in the first half," said Brinegar. "We forced several turnovers and didn't give them too many easy looks at the basket. We missed a few opportunities on offense, but we were happy to have the lead and the momentum."
Foster Sirbaugh opened the second-half scoring, giving Berkeley Springs its biggest lead of the game 16-10, with 6:07 left in the third quarter. Webster then scored the next five points to cut the lead to 16-15. LJ Wright extended the Indian lead to 18-15, before the Vikings reeled off the next four points to take their first lead of the game, 19-18 with under four minutes remaining in the quarter.
Nathan Sirbaugh hit a driving lay-up seconds later to retake the lead. After Petersburg regained the lead 21-20, free throws by Wright and Williams gave Berkeley Springs a one-point lead 22-21. Petersburg scored the last two points of the period and headed into the final quarter of regulation with a tenuous 23-22 lead.
Jimmy Zimmerer of Petersburg buried a 3-point shot to open the quarter, giving the Vikings a 26-22 lead. Williams then missed a pair of free throws with 6:02 remaining; Petersburg collected the rebound and spread the floor on offense. They ran a full minute and half off the clock before they found John Riggers open under the basket and he converted giving Petersburg its biggest lead of the evening, 28-22.
Foster Sirbaugh quickly answered for Berkeley Springs, cutting the Viking lead to 28-24 with 4:10 remaining in the game.
Petersburg content to take the air out of the ball and trusting their ability to convert free throws, continued to spread the floor, forcing Berkeley Springs to foul. Webster made four consecutive free throws to extend the lead to 32-24 at the 2:36 mark of the final quarter. Berkeley Springs was unable to generate any offense and the Vikings kept making free throws. In fact, Petersburg never took a shot from the floor in the final 4:10 of the game, scoring all of their points from the line for the final margin of victory.
"We are all disappointed," Brinegar said. "We were so close but came up a little short. I feel badly for the seniors. They have given a lot to the program and I wanted them to experience another state tournament. We will certainly miss all of them."
Nathan Sirbaugh led the Indians with eight points, Trump added six, Foster Sirbaugh five, Wright and Brian Ness three each, while Williams rounded out the offense with two points.