Staff Photo: John Bohn Berkmar players Adonai Rogers (3), at rear left, Zach Weiner (11), center left, and Brandon Thompson (15), right, await the final seconds to expire during their loss to Alpharetta in a state Class AAAAA quarter final boys basketball game played Saturday at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton. Alpharetta defeated Berkmar 80-70.
CARROLLTON -- There's really only one term to describe the way Berkmar's boys must have felt following their Class AAAAA state quarterfinal against Alpharetta.
The No. 7 state-ranked Patriots endured a barrage of shots from seemingly every possible distance and angle.
When the smoke cleared, the Raiders had blistered the nets behind the hot shooting of Ty Toney and Carlos Burse, who combined for 50 points in an 80-70 victory Saturday at The Coliseum on the campus of the University of West Georgia.
"It was all coaching," a disappointed Berkmar coach Greg Phillips could only say after seeing the Patriots' season come to an end at 23-8. "I thought we got outcoached. That loss is on me.
"I give all the credit to Alpharetta. They played extremely well. They made a lot of tough shots."
In all fairness to Phillips and his staff, it's hard to come up with a game plan when a team is as on-target as unranked Alpharetta (19-12) was in advancing to the Final Four against sixth-ranked Savannah next week at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
While the Raiders shot a decent 47 percent from the floor for the game, they were considerably more deadly from long range, hitting 53 percent on 9 of 17 shooting from behind the 3-point arc, including four 3-pointers from Burse, who finished with 19 points, and three more from Toney, who posted a game-high 31 points to go along with nine rebounds.
"Toney and Burse are key for us," Alpharetta coach Fredrick Hurt said. "But other guys are stepping up different nights. ... Our whole slogan for the year is, 'We, not me.' And they're buying in."
After trailing just 16-13 after the first quarter, Berkmar, which had beaten Alpharetta 65-62 back on Jan. 28, watched as the Raiders simply couldn't miss -- almost literally -- in the second quarter.
Isaiah Deane came off the bench to score seven points in the period, while Bjorn Walker added six and Toney added five, as the Raiders built as much as a 36-20 lead.
Rowe -- who, along with Brandon Thompson carried the Patriots in the first half, with the duo combining for 20 points in the opening 16 minutes -- hit a pair of free throws with 33.5 seconds left to cut the deficit to 36-22 heading into intermission.
But with Alpharetta having hit 50 percent of their shots from 3-point range in the first half, the Patriots had their work cut out for them.
"The seniors since their first (varsity) year, when they were 1-14, they've ... never quit on us," Phillips said. "I can't say enough about the seniors who stuck with us and persevered through so much."
And seniors like Thompson and Yonel Brown weren't about to let Berkmar go down without a fight.
After cutting the Alpharetta lead to as little as 10 points early in the third quarter before trailing 56-43 by the end of the period, the Patriots tried to make a move late behind Brown, who scored 17 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter.
With Berkmar trailing 66-52 with 3:48 to play, Brown capped a run of six straight points with a drive to the basket to cut the Alpharetta lead to just 66-58 with 2:18 remaining.
The Patriots then had two chances to cut further into the lead, only to come up empty before Walker hit two free throws and Toney hit four more to push the lead back to 72-61 with 1:08 left.
"That's when it got really interesting," Hurt said. "But we ... turned a drive into a deflection into a loose ball that we came up with."
Brown gave Berkmar one last chance by hitting a 3-pointer with 1:02 left.
However, Alpharetta, which hit 19 of its 23 free throws on the night, hit 8 of 10 from the line in the last 59.9 seconds, including 5 of 6 from Toney, to seal the win.
"Every time it looked like they (Berkmar) were about to make a run, we hit a shot to stop the momentum," Hurt said.
Two other Raiders joined Toney and Burse in double figures, with Walker finishing with 13 points and nine rebounds and Deane adding 12 points and six boards off the bench.
For Berkmar, there were also a few bright spots besides Brown's late heroics.
Rowe matched him with a team-high 20 points, pulled down a game-best 12 rebounds and blocked five shots, while Thompson finished with 14 points and five assists and Tyler Rogers chipped in 10 points and six boards.