By Richard Greene
When the Paradise Panthers needed a big shot Tuesday night against Boyd, Conner Berry was there to deliver.
The senior guard poured in 23 points, hitting five three-pointers to lead the Panthers to a 44-28 victory over the Yellowjackets at Boyd High School gym.
The performance followed his season-high, 24-point outing last week against Godley in which he hit seven treys.
“The first of the year, I was hitting and then it stopped,” Berry said. “I’ve picked it back up. The past two games I’ve felt great and shot great.”
Paradise completed the season sweep of Boyd after going four seasons without a win in the rivalry.
“We haven’t beat them in a few years,” Berry said. “It’s nice to beat them twice this year.”
The Panthers (15-12) kept their playoff hopes alive, getting to 6-4.
“We’ve got to win out,” said Paradise coach Tim Dukes. “Anything is possible.”
Berry and the Panthers buried Boyd in a deep hole early. Berry hit a pair of three-pointers on consecutive possessions in the first quarter, including one that he was knocked to the floor on. He knocked down the free throw to complete the four-point play.
His second trey put Paradise up 12-3.
Boyd managed only one field goal in the first quarter, going 1-for-11. The Yellowjackets were 12 of 45 in the game.
“We couldn’t hit anything,” said Boyd coach Oscar Hernandez. “I thought the looks we had were good. We just couldn’t hit them.”
Dukes credited his team’s defense for holding the Boyd offense in check.
“Defensively, we did good,” he said. “We didn’t allow many offensive rebounds.”
Boyd managed only six second-chance points.
Keaton Hickman pulled down 13 rebounds for the Panthers to go along with seven points.
Three times Boyd made runs to get within two or three points only to have Berry answer with a big shot. He drained a three-pointer to stop Boyd’s 6-0 run in the second quarter to help Paradise take a 17-9 lead into halftime.
The Yellowjackets pulled within two, 20-18, on a Jared Cate putback midway through the third quarter. Berry then hit two treys to start a 10-2 run to push the Panthers’ lead to 10, 30-20.
“He’s a heck of a shooter,” Dukes said about Berry. “He’s got to continue shooting and hitting.”
Boyd made one last push to start the fourth quarter. Landry Adams hit a three-pointer as part of a 6-0 run to get the Yellowjackets within two, 30-28.
Adams led Boyd with 13 points.
Instead of connecting from long range for a response, Berry drove the ball to the basket for a layup. It started a 14-0 run to end the game for the Panthers.
“Hats off to Berry,” Hernandez said. “He was hitting everything. We tried to give him different looks. He was on fire.”