Berry leads Bulldogs to hard-fought win over Panthers

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Bulldog junior guard Trey Berry made the pivotal play that propelled the Quitman Bulldogs over the Alba-Golden Panthers 63-57 on Feb. 1 in Quitman.

With 30 seconds left to play and Quitman holding a four-point lead, Berry was fouled in the backcourt. He promptly made both foul shots. After falling back toward mid-court, Berry broke to the inbound pass from Alba-Golden and stole the ball. He then drove to the lane transitioning the ball from his right hand to his left and scored off the glass. It was a back-breaking play, putting the Bulldogs back up by eight points, and, more than any sequence on the night, secured the Bulldogs’ big win.

The game featured the inside attack of the Panthers headlined by sophomore Boedy Baker against the outside guard play of Berry. Alba-Golden steadily built a first-quarter lead with Baker contributing six points from the post. Quitman had six points from Berry to keep the game close. At the quarter break it was Alba-Golden in the lead 14-10.

Quitman came out in the second quarter more aware and aggressive than their guests. Berry produced two driving lay-ins, the conversion of a turnover and an assist in the first three minutes of the quarter. Alba-Golden whistled a time out to curb the momentum.

The Bulldogs retained the lead for the remainder of the second quarter. Riley Flanagan and Jace Reid joined Berry, who finished with 26 points, on the scoresheet. Alba-Golden redoubled their efforts inside and drew within one point with a Baker offensive rebound put-in as time expired in the half.

The third quarter was scrappy. The teams produced five lead changes. Quitman took the lead for good with three minutes to play in the quarter. The Panthers closed the quarter with a beautiful drive from Jon Michael Chadwick to draw within four points 42-38. Ten missed free throws by Alba-Golden in the second half proved to be a big factor in the game.

Several elements came together in the final quarter to secure Quitman’s win. Two offensive fouls against Alba-Golden’s post Baker, two technical fouls against Alba-Golden, nice ball-handling and scoring by Bulldog junior Aiden Corrior, and Berry’s moment of magic in the final seconds. The Panthers had closed to within four points three times in the quarter, but each time Quitman had an answer.

It was an exciting and thoroughly entertaining game between two teams fighting for a playoff spot to represent District 3A-12.

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