The championship of the Northeast Christmas Invitational between unbeatens Berkeley Prep and Wharton lived up to the billing, coming down to the final possession.
The Buccaneers’ zone defense had stifled the up-tempo Wildcats all game, and they got the needed defensive stop to topple Wharton 41-39.
Wharton’s up-tempo offense finally came alive in the fourth, going on a 5-0 run to tie the game at 36 with 3:37 left.
But the Buccaneers’ Antonio Johnson made a huge steal, the 10th Wharton turnover, and raced to the other end to finish a layup and get a foul. After another defensive stop, Jacob Mathis penetrated the middle as he had done all game, and put in a shot to give him 16 points.
After a Wharton 3-pointer and Berkeley Prep turnover, Wharton had a final chance, down two with 6.7 seconds left. The Buccaneers clogged the middle and forced an errant shot, and Mathis secured the rebound and the win.
Tournament MVP Mathis also had six rebounds, four assists and two steals.