Stags guarantee best finish under Wallace
Rallying with just a week remaining in the regular season and their sights set on securing the third playoff seed in Region 8AAA, the Berkeley Stags have guaranteed their best regular season finish under Coach Joe Wallace with wins over Stall and James Island.
The Stags outlasted the Warriors 59-53 on Feb. 4 and downed the Trojans 58-51 on Feb. 7 to improve to 11-10 on the 2013-2014 season and 4-4 in Region 8AAA play.
As the final week of the regular season begins the Stags are currently in fourth place in the region behind Orangeburg-Wilkinson, Hanahan and James Island.
“The playoff picture is still not settled,” Wallace said. “I am excited about our chances of making the playoffs. This could be my first playoff appearance as a head coach. We won seven games my first year, eight last year.”
With two regular season games left, Berkeley has 11 wins, the most wins in Wallace’s three seasons.
In a crucial game against James Island the Stags took a 19-2 lead after just eight minutes of play, holding the Trojans to a single basket.
James Island rallied in the second quarter as the Stags endured a cold snap of their own to close the lead to 22-14 at the half.
“The game against James Island was our Homecoming as well as Senior Night,” Wallace said. “I started my four seniors, Dee Harley, Matt Harkness, D’Andre Richardson and Tyrahn Bradford with junior Alex Taylor.”
The Stags increased the lead to 40-27 and held off a Trojans comeback to take the win 58-51.
The win avenges a Jan. 21 65-53 loss to James Island and moves the Stags closer to the region’s third seed.
“This was the second game in a row where our defense showed up strong and our assist totals topped double digits again with 13,” the coach said. “I was very proud of my guys for the effort that they put forth.”
Harley and Richardson led a balanced Berkeley scoring attack with 16 and 11 points, respectively.
Taylor provided the inside muscle with nine points.
Against Stall, the Stags proved to be too much for the Warriors, jumping out to a quick 26-19 lead at the half and holding on to win 59-53 in a game of scoreboard keep-away.
The Warriors often drew close, but never close enough.
“We played unselfish basketball against Stall,” Wallace said. “This was the first time in several weeks that we accumulated double digits in assists as a team with 15.
Coach Dave Copeland and I continue to stress to the guys that defense is going to win games for us.
“My guys stepped up to the challenge and showed a good defensive effort and we came away with a much-needed win.”
Demery Ford led the Stags with 11 points.
Taylor and Richardson added eight points each and Peyton Thompson chipped in seven.
The Stags wrap up the regular season at home against Orangeburg-Wilkinson and on the road against Stall on Friday before the playoffs begin Feb. 18.