Gray-led Berkeley Prep rallies for Kingdom of the Sun title
By Richard Burton
Down by eight with 1:53 left in regulation, Tampa Berkeley Prep appeared on its way to its second defeat in the finals of the Kingdom of the Sun boys basketball tournament in the last six years.
It’s star, Justin Gray, had other ideas.
Gray, a Texas Tech signee, scored nine points over the final 1:44 and buried a pair of 3-pointers to force overtime in the final 13.4 seconds, as the Bucs rallied for a 59-56 overtime win over Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons.
The tying 3-pointer by Gray with 2.2 seconds remaining came after the Chiefs failed to get the ball inbounds following the first 3-pointer by the Berkeley Prep standou
Gray also made the steal to set up the game-tying 3-pointer for the Bucs, who trailed by six points with 30 seconds left.
In overtime, Gray and the Bucs scored the first four points and survived a late charge by Cardinal Gibbons, which saw a 3-pointer by Jose Morales rim out as time expired.
“I’m still in shock,” said Bucs coach Bobby Reinhart, who was a standout for the 1982 Kingdom champions from Decatur (Ga.
) High School where he played for his father, Bob. “We were dead in the water, but Justin just made some great plays.’
Gray earned the tournament MVP as he scored 13 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter. The 6-foot-5 senior added seven rebounds and seven blocks.
The seven blocks set the championship game record and surpassed the previous mark of five held by Miami Central’s Gary Holmes (1978), Montverde’s Landry Nnonko (2011) and Jacksonville Providence’s Patric Young (2009).
Throughout the tournament, Gray carried the Bucs and even more so in the fourth overtime Kingdom final.
He finished with 66 points, 23 rebounds and 16 blocks, but his play in the fourth quarter of all tournament games is what set him apart.
On Monday, Gray was 4-of-6 from the floor in the fourth quarter and made all five of his free throws, after he entered the fourth just 2-of-10.
For the tournament, Gray scored 30 of his points, made 14-of-16 free throws and was 8-of-10 from the floor in the fourth quarter of his team’s games.
“Big time players make big-time plays,” said Reinhart, whose team lost in the tournament finals on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Georgia
’s McEachern High’s Trae Golden in 2007. “He carried us and fortunately we had just enough to get the job one in overtime.
“Give Cardinal Gibbons a lot of credit. I didn’t think we had played very well going into the fourth quarter with a four-point lead and they put the gas down early and took it to us (in the fourth), but our guys battled hard and got the job done.”
Craig Bowman scored 12 points for the Bucs, while N’Namdi Green added eight. Both Bowman (35 points in the tournament) and Green (31 points) were named to the all-tournament team.
For Cardinal Gibbons, Richard McIntosh had a monster game with 13 points and 18 rebounds, while Melvin Brooks contributed 11 points and seven rebounds, before fouling out with 3:02 left in overtime.
McIntosh’s 18 rebounds were one shy of the championship game record held by Miami Central’s Holmes against Vanguard in 1978.
The Chiefs placed McIntosh and Brooks on the all-tournament team, while Jose Morales (11 points) was named the tournament’s Mr. Hustle award winner.
Greg Kacprzak (14 points) was the top scorer in the finals for Cardinal Gibbons, which outrebounded Berkeley Prep 40-25, but was done in by an 18-of-49 shooting performance and a 0-of-5 mark from 3-point range.
The Chiefs did finish with the second largest rebounding edge in championship game history, trailing only DeLand’s 19-rebound advantage over Vanguard in 1976.
The theme of the tournament was defense, though, as both teams had top-five all-time defensive efforts.
Berkeley Prep allowed 64 field goals in the tournament, good for fourth all-time with University School
set in 2010.
Cardinal Gibbons was almost as good, as it gave up just 65 field goals, tied for sixth best in tournament history with Memphis
) East, the 1994 tournament winners.
The Bucs ability to win close games was obvious, as its 23-point total margin of victory in four tournament games was the fourth smallest in tournament history. Alcoa (Tenn.
) in 1993 and DeLand in 1976 won the Kingdom title with 17-point total margin of victories in their four games.
The Chiefs were also good late for most of the tournament, until Gray took over.
Cardinal Gibbons’ 15-point margin of victory in reaching the championship game was the fifth-slimmest margin to reach this point in tournament history. The all-time closest margin by a team to make it to the finals was Alcoa (Tenn.
) in 1993, which won by eight points over its first three victories, before it downed Vanguard in the host team’s last appearance in the tournament championship game.
On Sunday night, the two teams were able to survive what was the second closest semifinal round in tournament history with the margin of victory in the two teams being a combined six points.
The previous closest semifinal round in terms of margin of victory was five points, which happened in both 1998 and 1999.
Berkeley Prep, which allowed 37 points in the semifinals, held Cincinnati LaSalle to the second-lowest scoring output in the history of the tournament semifinals.
The all-time best defensive performance in the tournament semifinals belongs to Vanguard’s 1977 team, which limited Green Cove Springs Clay to 32 points.
The Bucs did manage to set the all-time record for fewest points in a half in the semifinals, as they limited LaSalle to 11 points, one less than Vanguard allowed Clay.
Berkeley Prep also tied a Kingdom mark held by eight other teams by holding LaSalle scoreless in the third quarter.