BERKELEY — As the final buzzer sounded on Pittsburg’s stunning road victory over Berkeley on Tuesday night in the first round of the North Coast Section’s Division I playoffs, Jeremiah Collins joyously threw the ball as high as he could to celebrate with the rest of his teammates.
Such a reaction was warranted after the No. 12-seeded Pirates, who trailed by as many as 13 points, wrapped up a 47-44 upset win over the fifth-seeded hosts.
“Man, this team has been through its ups and downs,” Collins said. “To get this win and move on to the next round, it’s a blessing.”
Berkeley (19-8), playing in front of a raucous home crowd, jumped out to a 19-6 advantage in the second quarter and enjoyed a 26-21 halftime lead.
Samir O’Brien scored eight of his game-high 21 in the first half for the home team and also contributed to a defense that frustrated Pittsburg’s half-court offense.
After being unable to complete the most basic plays without losing the ball for the first 16 minutes, Collins and teammate Paulance Quarles went on a 9-0 run in a two-minute span to give Pittsburg (16-11) a 30-27 lead in the third quarter.
Quarles drilled a mid-range pull-up jump shot, and then Collins copied his move for another score.
Then Quarles made yet another difficult jump shot, and Collins finished the burst with an off-the-dribble three-pointer from the top of the arc.
“They made some tough shots, and when momentum happens, it’s hard to stop it,” Berkeley coach Mike Hudson said. “It seemed like everything went in.”
Pittsburg, which led 34-33 going into the fourth quarter, couldn’t keep the hot shooting going. The Pirates withstood a frenzied Berkeley rally in the final two minutes.
After a ridiculous open-court layup and free throw by Collins put Pittsburg up 45-37, the home team went on a 7-0 run that cut the margin to one with about 12 seconds to go.
During Berkeley’s late rally, Jamari Widemon put back a missed shot, and O’Brien finished an and-one layup and hit two more foul shots to bring the score to 45-44. Helping Berkeley’s cause was Pittsburg missing the front end of one-and-one free throws on back-to-back possessions.
But with around 10 seconds left, Quarles made a pair of free throws to put Pittsburg back up by three, and then the Pirates stole the ball on Berkeley’s last possession to seal the victory.
“It’s a great, great, great win,” Pittsburg coach Rich Gonzales said.
Collins led Pittsburg with 18 points. Quarles added 14 and Kayshaun Hunte scored nine on three 3-pointers.
O’Brien had 21 to lead Berkeley. No other player for the Yellowjackets scored in double figures.
Pittsburg will play host to No. 13 seed James Logan on Friday night. The Colts shocked No. 4 seed Monte Vista on Tuesday.
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