Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Daunting task of defending Kentucky-bound Harrison twins looms, but Richardson Berkner likes its defense
RICHARDSON — Jason Petty knows how good twin brothers Andrew and Aaron Harrison are. He’s seen them on film and heard all the buzz, too.
Richardson Berkner’s second-year coach also knows that the Harrisons are going to have their hands full Friday night in Austin.
“They’re really good players,” Petty said, “and it can get tough if you let those two monsters shake loose on you. But our guards are really good, too. I like my team, and we’re defending really well right now.”
Andrew and Aaron Harrison, star guards at Fort Bend Travis, will be the primary hurdles for Berkner in a 5A state semifinal at the Frank Erwin Center. The twins signed with Kentucky in the fall, and both are in the top 10 of ESPN’s national recruiting rankings.
Aaron Harrison, a shooting guard, averages 23.1 points and 5.2 rebounds, while Andrew, a point guard, scores 14.1 points and dishes out 5.1 assists.
Travis (31-5) lost to Fort Bend Bush three times during the regular season, then defeated Bush, 61-53, in the Region III final. The Harrisons combined for 45 points in the win.
“People are looking for us to say we’re changing everything that we’re doing to guard these two kids,” Petty said. “We’re not. We’re going to continue to do the things we’ve had success doing. Maybe we’ll be successful, maybe we won’t, but that’s what we’re going with.”
Petty has reason to be confident.
Guards Kendal Yancy-Harris and Keenan Evans have flourished on both sides of the floor, and 6-5 center Soma Edo could be the difference-maker in a game featuring stellar guard play.
Berkner (33-5) held Spring Westfield scoreless in overtime during a 64-58 win in the Region II semifinals. It was the sort of win Petty couldn’t have counted on early in the season, but it proved how much tougher and stronger Berkner had become.
“It was crunch time,” Yancy-Harris said. “We had to make big stops to win the game. [Westfield] made some unbelievable shots, huge shots. But we made some big stops in overtime.”
Yancy-Harris and Evans hope to apply that same pressure to Travis, which is averaging 67.4 points in five playoff wins.
Berkner plays a stifling man-to-man defense and has given up more than 60 points only once since Dec. 28. It has won 18 straight games.
It has struggled at times, though, to contain teams with good guard play.
Of Berkner’s five losses, two came against Hebron — a team that features standout guard Ridge Shipley. The Cal Poly signee averaged more than 20 points in three meetings.
“We let them get it in the paint too much,” Yancy-Harris said, “and got outrebounded.”
Berkner also lost to Plano East, which got 20 points from guard Marcus Mathieu.
But all of those losses are at least two months behind Berkner, which Petty says has only recently started playing its best basketball.
Edo said the team has come too far to change its game plan or be intimidated by the Harrisons.
“They’re just regular people,” Edo said. “It’s not like they’re Superman or something like that.”
Follow David Just on Twitter at @DavidJustDMN.