Considering how Berlin lost its PIAA Class A second-round playoff game versus Vincentian Academt Wednesday at Hempfield High School, it's easy to understand why the Mountaineers took the loss so hard.
Berlin pushed Vincentian, which entered the game with one loss and not many close calls through 27 games, to the limit. The Mountaineers even led the heavily favored Royals with four minutes remaining.
It ended with a 44-42 loss when Vincentian's Academy Abbey Bartoszewicz putback her own missed layup as time expired. The Mountaineers twice rallied from double-digit deficits, held Royals standout Brenna Wise without a field goal in the second half and Vincentian to just 12 second-half points.
"All the hard work these girls put in, I couldn't be more proud," Mountaineers coach Rachel Prosser said as she held back her emotions in the aftermath of the heartbreaking loss.
Berlin should also be excited for the future.
Marah Riley was the lone senior starter. Jordan Eutsey was also a senior, but she lost her last two seasons to two different knee injuries.
Back will be Shelby Coughenour, arguably the Mountaineers' best player. Erica Craig, who defended Wise exceptionally in the second half, will return. So will point guard Gina Trulick and Aleesa Fieg, who made all eight of her free-throw attempts to lead Berlin with 10 points against Vincentian.
Considering how well Berlin played in the state playoffs and a difficult District 5 Class A bracket, there's reason to believe Berlin can better this year's 23-5 record.
"They should take a lot of confidence from this. They played their hearts out. They did what they needed to do to win against one of the top programs in the state," Prosser said. "This should want to make them get better. They were one turnover away from winning this game. We have room to improve. That's the good thing."