School, community give Berlin Brothersvalley boys big sendoff before state basketball title game

Mar. 21—BERLIN, Pa. — The Berlin Brothersvalley boys basketball team is looking for redemption.

The team is heading back to the PIAA Class 1A championship game in Hershey for a rematch against defending state champion Imani Christian Academy, which defeated Berlin in the 2023 final.

The school and community gathered Wednesday to send the boys off and cheer them to victory. The game will be played at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Giant Center.

"This is unbelievable, and I'm extremely grateful for this," said junior Haydon Hutzell. "It's special. Not a lot of kids get to experience this once, but I'm lucky enough to experience it twice.

"We're just going to do what our coaches tell us and what we've been practicing. We're going there to win it all. We made it, so we're going to give it our best shot and bring it home."

Coach Tanner Prosser said he's incredibly proud of the team and their accomplishments.

"It's a really hard thing to do. You have to have work hard, and you have to have great kids who are committed to playing for each other and they've done that all year," he said. "Now they have the opportunity to play in the biggest game a high school kid can play in."

Prosser said his players were motivated to get back at it after the end of last season.

"They worked on their game individually and got in the weight room, and we did stuff as a team and got better," he said. "From the first day of practice in November, they continued to jell and improve. They always play for each other, and that's the key."

Prosser's message to the boys is to play every possession as hard as they can for their teammates.

"If we do that, we typically like the results," he said. "We're going to go out with that mindset and play every possession as hard as we can for our team, and we'll live with that."

Junior McKelvey Foor said it's a great feeling to be heading back to the championship game.

"We've put the work in to be there, and I feel like we can win this," he said. "With the guys we have and the practice we've put in, we're ready to go."

Foor said Imani Christian Academy got them last year, but if they play well they'll be unbeatable.

"We want to win it all," he said. "The job isn't finished."

Junior Joseph Richardson said he never imagined being able to play in a championship game.

"I still haven't really processed it," he said. "We're going to go out there and play our game."

Richardson said the team has put in a lot of work and is prepared for the big game.

"We're going to do what we've been doing all year and win," he said. "It's just so special being here."

Before Hutzell got on the bus, his mother, Laurie Pletcher, gave him a hug for good luck.

"This is very exciting, and it's the second year in a row and we need to do it this year," she said. "I'm being supportive and telling him to give it his all and do the best you can do."

Pletcher said it's great seeing people line the streets to wish the team well.

"This is amazing," she said. "We have a very supportive community. It's the best."

Lisa Black said her son, senior Parker Black, is unable to play due to injury, but it's awesome to see the team going back to the final.

"This is very exciting, and I knew they could do it," she said. "I hope they go and give it their best and give it their all. I hope they come out on top."