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Tuesday, February 28, 2012
DeSoto eliminates Berkner with late 10-0 run

By Randy Jennings

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas -- When DeSoto guard Benquan Petty's unintended bank shot finds it way into the basket, he says, “It’s a sign I’m hot.’’

And when it happens in the final four minutes of a tight playoff game, as it did Tuesday night, it can mean the difference between a date in the Class 5A Region II tournament in Waco or the end of the season.

Petty’s basket off glass from 17 feet with almost no angle triggered a 10-0 run in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter, helping DeSoto defeat Richardson Berkner, 64-55, in a Class 5A Region II quarterfinal at Amos Turner Gymnasium.

After playing catch-up for almost the entire game to that point, Petty gave DeSoto only its second lead of the night, 52-51, with 3:45 to play

Just as devastating to Berkner was a steal of the ensuing inbounds pass by Petty’s backcourt mate Jabril Durham. When Durham converted from close range after the steal, DeSoto (32-5) had two baskets within five seconds and a three-point lead.

Try as it might, Berkner (27-8) never recovered.

“Those two plays were big,’’ said DeSoto coach Chris Dyer. “I thought Benquan got fouled on his shot, but then again I always think our guy got fouled. Then Jabril’s steal was huge.’’

The win advances DeSoto to a Region II semifinal against Spring Westfield, a 66-59 winner over Spring Dekaney, scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday at Waco Midway.

Berkner and DeSoto followed a similar script from the first meeting of the teams, a 67-64 DeSoto victory Nov. 18 in a tournament in Pasadena. Berkner was outscored in the fourth quarter, 27-16, that day and 22-12 on Tuesday.

“We run so much in practice and work so hard, we’re stronger at the end,’’ said Petty, who finished with 20 points.

Rebound statistics seem to back up Petty’s claim. Out-rebounded 17-8 at halftime, DeSoto controlled the boards 16-9 in the second half.

Matt Jones, a Duke commit rated No. 22 nationally in the 2013 class by ESPNU, led DeSoto with 29 points on 8-of-20 shooting. Two of his four 3-pointers came in a 10-point fourth quarter.

“Our guys just kept playing,’’ said Dyer. “Berkner was too big to play half court, so we had to run.’’

Kendal Harris, a slashing 6-3 junior guard, topped Berkner with 20 points. He and 6-5 junior Soma Edo (10 points) accounted for all five of the Rams’ field goals in the fourth quarter.

The Rams hit 80 percent of their shots in a first period that saw them open a quick 13-point lead. The advantage was seven at halftime and by the start of the fourth period, down to just one.

‘With two really good teams, it comes down to which makes the most big plays,’’ said Berkner coach Rod Wright. “It was definitely a game of runs. As much as we’d like to have taken the floor in Waco, it wasn’t to be. But I’m very proud of this team.’’

Afterward, Dyer said that Berkner is the best team in the state not going to a regional.

“Coming from someone I admire like Coach Dyer, that means a lot,’’ Wright said.