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Berger paces Mountaineers by Governors into quarterfinals
Heritage’s Keenan Berger swoops to the basket against William Blount’s Joel Graham, left, and Reed Daniels on Tuesday. Photos by Wallace Bowden

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Keenan Berger runs the floor real nice for a big man.

The Mountaineers' Andrew Pryor attempts to squeeze between the Governors' Josh Young.

The Mountaineers’ Andrew Pryor attempts to squeeze between the Governors’ Josh Young and Graham.

The Heritage High School center went the distance with a first-quarter steal, finishing with a soft, scooped finger roll at the basket with a defender draped on his hip.

Good stuff.

It was that kind of night for the German foreign exchange student and the Mountaineers, Heritage eliminating William Blount, 62-39, at the District 4AAA Tournament Tuesday night at Maryville.

Next for the Mountaineers (20-11) is a quarterfinal matchup with Farragut (14-13) Thursday at 6. The winner advances to a Friday semifinal with regular season champion and top seed Maryville.

Berger never cooled after the hot start, going on to pace the Mountaineers with a game-high 19 points in the win over the Governors. Heritage got 14, including a trey, from slashing guard Blake Ervin, 12 from Brandon Davis.

Jai Atkins led William Blount with 12. Seniors Joel Graham and Reed Daniels finished with eight points each in their final game as Governors. Bradley Boling finished with six, including one of two William Blount 3-pointers.

“We just tried to do what we do and take the big guy (Atkins) out of the picture,” Heritage coach Bill Duncan said. “He’s tough when he gets the ball. We just wanted to attack them inside, and we did. That was our goal.”

Blake Ervin makes his move.

Blake Ervin makes his move to the basket.

That the Governors were having a tough time of it from the 3-point line then became a big part of the story. Ervin and backcourt mates Andrew Pryor and Jake Long continually forced William Blount’s shooters further and further from the basket for open looks.

“Their length on defense really makes it tough,” Governor coach Kevin Windle said.

With Berger scoring inside, Ervin off the drive and Davis from midrange, the Mountaineers pressed home a size advantage around the basket.

“We tried to get it inside to get (Atkins) in foul trouble,” Berger said. “He’s pretty good.”

Boling’s game-opening 3 sparked William Blount to an early 5-0 lead, but Heritage caught up and went by in a hurry, the Mountaineers leading 17-6 after a quarter.

It was 31-20 Heritage at the half.

Back-to-back buckets from Long to open the third, followed by a lay in from Davis, revved Heritage to blow it open, the Mountaineers lead at 50-28 to start the fourth.

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