TAMPA - Down by only two points early in the second quarter, the Cardinal Mooney boys basketball team looked to have survived an early surge from host Tampa Berkeley Prep.
The Cougars opened with the first field goal of the second quarter and settled in for what they hoped would be a close Class 3A regional quarterfinal.
But four minutes later, Cougars coach Stefan Gates called a timeout so Cardinal Mooney could regroup from a Bucs' run that put them up by 20 points with 3:34 left in the first half.
The Cougars never recovered, and things turned from bad to worse in a 83-43 loss to Berkeley Prep.
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"All of the sudden they bang a couple 3s, and they are at home, and the crowd gets into it, and they start getting energized," Gates said. "Before you know it, that thing goes from two to 20 . . . and it gets away from you."
With the loss, the Cougars ended the season 11-16. The game went to a running clock in the final quarter.
The nice part about being in a district with only three teams is the Cougars will almost always advance to the regionals. The bad part is they won't always be equipped to handle the competition when they get past district.
"We knew it was going to be really, really tough to come in here," Gates said. "We ran into a really good team. This was one of the best teams we've played this year."
Berkeley Prep coach Bobby Reinhart said it was one of his team's best offensive performances of the season. The Bucs (21-6) outscored Cardinal Mooney 36-3 from behind the arc.
"We passed the ball real well," Reinhart said. "We got a lot of open looks, and guys were knocking down shots, so it was a nice combination to have. Once we settled in, we were passing the ball well all night, shots started falling.
"We want to play up-tempo as much as we possibly can, and that spurt in the second quarter really got us going. We really got into our transition game, and that causes the defense to have to (stay) back, and that opens the 3-point line."
Through the first 22:08 of the game, only four of the Bucs had even scored. Four starters - Austin Suarez, Zak Kazanski, Archie Barnes and Johnathan Gray - scored their team's first 61 points before Christian Reintgen made two free throws to give the Bucs their first points off the bench.
Reinhardt sat his starters most of the fourth quarter, but substitutes seemed equally adept at putting the ball in the basket as the Bucs extended the lead and closed out the game.
Saurez finished with a game-high 22 points, while Kazanski added 19 and Barnes and Gray had 12 each.
"They do a really good job of sharing the ball," Gates said. "They are unselfish and they make the extra pass. If you can share the basketball, be unselfish and make the extra pass, you have a chance to be pretty good."
The Cougars were led by Tyler Samuels with 14 and Jeremy Tellor with 13.
CARDINAL MOONEY (43) - Matt Tellor 1 0-0 2, Matt Doble 3 1-4 8, Grant Rowley 0 0-0 0, Jeremy Tellor 4 5-6 13, Paul Mattera 1 0-0 2, Jay Moor 0 0-0 0, Joe Whitacre 0 0-0 0, Sam Dixon 0 0-0 0, Sean Kenealy 1 0-0 2, Tyler Samuels 7 0-2 14, John Scott 1 0-0 2, Craig Montgomery 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 6-12 43.
BERKELEY PREP (83) - Brandon O'Conner 1 0-0 2, Dan Nillson-Cole 3 1-2 9, Mandi Lagas 0 0-0 0, Ben Patrick 0 0-0 0, Cory Acton 0 0-0 0, Archie Barnes 5 2-4 12, Johnathan Gray 4 1-2 12, Francis Dhondt 1 0-0 3, Zak Kazanski 7 3-4 19, Christian Reintgen 0 2-2 2, Austin Suarez 6 6-6 22, Taylor Martin 1 0-1 2. Totals: 28 15-21 83.
Cardinal Mooney 11 17 12 3 - 43
Berkely Prep 16 28 26 13 - 83
3-pointers: Cardinal Mooney 1 (Doble), Berkeley Prep 12 (Suarez 4, Gray 3, Kaznaski 2, Nillson-Cole 2, Francis Dhondt; Team fouls: Cardinal Mooney 18, Berkeley Prep 12; Fouled out: Kenealy (Cardinal Mooney); Records: Cardinal Mooney 11-16, Berkeley Prep 21-6.