DeSoto's stamina keys fourth-quarter rally in win over Berkner

GRAND PRAIRIE — The gym was growing louder, like it does in every fourth quarter of a close game, and hotter, proven by the referees, who seemed to call for someone to wipe condensation from the court at every dead ball.

And in this setting, the DeSoto players could see it in the Richardson Berkner players’ eyes and legs. Their opponents were getting tired.

They relayed this message to DeSoto coach Chris Dyer. He responded back quickly: “Shoot, let’s keep pushing them.”

After a burst of 3-pointers, steals and forced turnovers, DeSoto won its 5A Region II quarterfinal, 64-55, on Tuesday.

DeSoto hadn’t led until almost midway through the fourth. That was when the players realized their energy level hadn’t been depleted one bit.

Even in the playoffs, DeSoto (32-5) stays conditioned. Matthew Jones said they routinely run miles around the track during practice, having to finish in six minutes.

“People don’t run the track,” said Jones, who scored 29 points. “We always do.”

His fresh legs were apparent. He made two of his four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, and the second one gave DeSoto its first lead.

But this wasn’t just Jones’ game. As Dyer says, the balance around his star player can also make you forget Jones is there, and it certainly prevents opponents from focusing on him.

In the last minutes, Benquan Petty (20 points) and Jabril Durham caused turnovers and made important shots. After Petty banked in a runner to make it 52-51, Berkner (27-8) would never lead again.

Berkner had made 3-pointers, banged inside and led by as many nine. It just couldn’t withstand the fourth-quarter comeback of a still-energized DeSoto team, a comeback that happened so quickly.

“We try to run as much as we can,” Dyer said.

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