This weekend could bring Berry’s men’s basketball team face to face with their toughest conference opponents as the Vikings play in the Final Four of the Southern Athletic Association tournament.
Held at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, Saturday’s semifinals will see Berry face No. 2 seed Hendrix 6 p.m. The top-seeded and hosting Centre Colonels take on Millsaps in the first game at 4 p.m. The SAA championship game is set for Sunday at 2 p.m.
Berry advanced to the SAA semifinals for the third straight year with a commanding 77-50 win over the Sewanee Tigers in the Cage Center on Sunday. With the victory, the Vikings improved to 18-8 overall, just one win off their total from last season, which was the most overall wins in the Vikings’ Division-III era and the most since the 2008-09 season.
Austin Brooks shot 11-for-11 from the field, making him the first Viking in Berry’s D-III era to go 100% from the floor in a single-game with a minimum of eight made shots.
With the big win against the Tigers, head coach Mitch Cole feels his team is trending in the right direction at the most important time of the year.
“All we’ve talked about this year is peaking in February,” Cole said. “We want to be at our best come conference tournament time. We’re trending well right now and just trying to be at our peak each day in practice. Whoever is firing on all cylinders right now has a chance to win it.”
Hendrix (16-10) defeated Birmingham-Southern 75-68 in their quarterfinal matchup, led by a 34-point performance from sophomore Seth Stanley. The Vikings and Warriors met twice during the regular season with Hendrix claiming the edge in a pair of overtime shootouts.
The Warriors claimed the first contest in the Cage Center 60-59 and won the second game in Conway 78-73 on Feb. 2.
Cole noted that the Warriors provide a tough challenge for his team.
“They’re a good all-around team,” Cole said. “Seth Stanley is probably an all-American candidate. We have to find an answer for him. They have good shooters, good drivers and good defenders. We just have to play better than we did the first two times.”
Berry is familiar with Centre’s Alumni Gym as the Vikings claimed the SAA tournament crown in Danville at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.