However, Berchoff would pick up his second foul early in the second quarter when he stepped in to take the charge but was whistled for a block on a bang-bang play. With Berchoff out, Lynn English gained momentum and the lead, 37-33 at the half.
Going into the second half the Panthers needed another scoring option outside of Cross and Berchoff, who accounted for 31 of Beverly’s 33 first half points. Enter Jonangel Franco, who handled the Bulldog guards and attacked the basket fearlessly.
“He (Franco) was fantastic. He is such a good player and we’ve been saying it all season that he is what makes us go. If he has a great game, we are tough to beat,” said Lewis.
Franco scored all 14 of his points after the break as Beverly built its lead to as many as eight points in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t know if anything changed (from the first half). We didn’t play very well in the first half either. We came out flat and didn’t play the defensive style we play,” said English head coach Mike Carr. “To their (Beverly’s) credit they did a very good job of beating the pressure.”
The pressure did eventually get to the Panthers late in the fourth quarter when some bad turnovers and quick buckets for the Bulldogs turned the table on the game. It was back-and-forth for the last four minutes before English went back on top in the final minute off a Stevie Collins three-pointers.
However guys like Berchoff, Duguid, Franco, Cam Rogers (13 points) and Chris Sinclair (eight points) had been resilient all game for Beverly and Cross rewarded everyone with his late game heroics.