DANVILLE, Ky. — The Berry College men's basketball team sent waves throughout the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) this afternoon, winning the program's first SAA title with an 88-78 final over the Hendrix College Warriors.
The Vikings entered the tournament as the No. 8 seed, but finished as the last team standing after a miraculous tournament run, including a victory over No. 1 seed and host Centre College on Friday. Berry will now await their opponent in the team's first NCAA Division III Tournament appearance after the selection show tomorrow at 12:30 p.m.
Caleb Johnson was selected as the SAA Tournament MVP after a historic performance, setting a program record with 45 points on 14-for-20 shooting. He was also 15-for-16 at the free throw line, hit a pair of threes, had eight rebounds and never left the floor.
Elijah Hirsh joined Johnson on the All-Tournament team. Despite getting into foul trouble early, Hirsh was a force on the defensive end of the floor, collecting five rebounds and two big blocks.
Berry had a strong first half, leading 38-28 at halftime with Johnson putting up 19 points. The Vikings shot 48.3-percent from the field and were dominant on the boards, leading 20-14 in the opening period.
Johnson turned a good game into an unforgettable game in the second half, posting 26 points and was 12-for-13 at the charity stripe to seal the Vikings victory.
As a team, Berry was 47.3-percent from the field but was an incredible 82.5-percent on free throws, hitting 33-of-40. The Vikings were also able to capitalize on the Warriors turnovers, recording 22 points when given extra possessions.
- Caleb Johnson: 45 PTS, 14-for-20 FG, 15-for-16 FT, 8 REB
- Ethan Clark: 10 PTS, 2-for-3 FG, 5-for-6 FT, 7 REB
- Myles Moore: 9 PTS, 3-for-10 FG, 3 REB
- Jacob Link: 23 PTS, 6-for-13 FG, 11-for-12 FT, 9 REB
- Preston Smith: 18 PTS, 5-for-11 FG, 5-for-5 FT
- Trey Rouse: 10 PTS, 4-for-9 FG, 4 REB
- This marks the first time in SAA history and one of the few times in NCAA Division III history that the No. 8 seed has won their conference tournament.
- Caleb Johnson's 45 points set a program single-game scoring record
Berry will await their opponent in the NCAA Division III Tournament to be announced tomorrow at 12:30 p.m.