Classical was able to keep its composure down the stretch, even when its lead slipped away. Sophomore Phillip Rogers made two free throws to pull the Rams even at 55, then Eraldo Custodio hit a turnaround jumper to regain the lead and Jorge Perez delivered the dagger Lewis’ team had been looking for — a corner three for a 60-55 advantage with 1:57 to play.
Beverly didn’t go away. Junior guard Chris Sinclair came up with a steal and a layup to make it a one-possession game (60-57) with 1:23 to go and, after two free throws from Classical, Cam Rogers knocked down a three to pull Beverly within two (62-60).
Panthers’ junior forward Jon Berchoff then came up with a steal, but couldn’t convert a layup in traffic that would have tied the game. Beverly also committed a turnover in the final seconds when the deficit was only three points.
“We just beat them three weeks ago by 22 points and Scott came up with a completely different game plan,” Grassa said. “It’s take-your-pick with them. Cross we know has been very effective, and we were focused on Berchoff and Rogers. We tried to focus our attention on those three and that’s what I think Scott did, telling his guards to just take my guards to the hole. It was very effective because as soon as you try to help, they’d kick it.”
Beverly played hard, full-court man-to-man defense, which forced Classical to work hard for its shots and spread the wealth. Phillip Rogers, who scored 31 against Beverly the last time these two teams played, was held to 14 last night. Custodio also had 14, and Jalen Brown led the Rams with 16. Perez also hit double figures with 10.
Beverly’s effort on defense may have limited its offense at times. Cross scored a game-high 22 points and Berchoff added 14. Cam Rogers managed nine.