Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Keenan Evans' 35 points help Berkner hold off furious Plano West rally, 75-73
GARLAND -- As a defending state qualifier, Richardson Berkner typically is considered the favorite.
But to advance to the Class 5A Region II tournament, Berkner pulled off something of an upset over highly regarded Plano West in a 75-73 victory Tuesday in the regional quarterfinals at the Culwell Center.
With Texas Tech signee Keenan Evans leading with 35 points, Berkner survived a frantic, fourth-quarter rally led by West’s roster of major college prospects, including juniors 6-8 D.J. Hogg and 6-7 Mickey Mitchell.
Berkner led, 70-60, with a minute left. But Evans needed to make six of eight free throws to hold off a charge by Mitchell, who had a monster dunk with 20 seconds left and hit a free throw to make it 71-67, and Hogg, who made two 3-pointers in the final 4.5 seconds.
“Plano West is a formidable opponent,” Berkner coach Jason Petty said. “Keenan and Hogg were kind of trading sensational plays. And we can make free throws and miss free throws. But the key for us in the playoffs is that we’ve been making them late.”
Berkner (24-7) advanced to the regional semifinals Friday in Waco. West (22-7) was eliminated after its best playoff run since a 2010 regional final.
Hogg, who hasn’t chosen a college, ended with 27 points. Mitchell has committed to Ohio State largely off his summer league play. He hadn’t played since November because of a back injury but came off the bench to score eight points in the final six minutes.
Avery Johnson Jr., the son of former Mavericks coach Avery Johnson, had 16 points for West, but highly recruited football prospect Soso Jamabo went out with a leg injury in the final minutes after scoring nine points.
“We have had some up and downs,” West coach Anthony Morgan said. “We have been behind, but we’ve had a natural way to turn it on when we need to. But we kept giving them easy baskets early, and we had to work for ours. You run out of gas doing that.”
West experienced frustration with a pesky Berkner defense as West got a pair of technical fouls and even missed an alley-oop dunk attempt early in the second half. Berkner’s 6-5 Robert Johnson II got to the line off his rebounding, and guards Josh Francis and Torey Everett aggressively drove the lane.
Berkner hit 11 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter.