'We have the whole town behind us': Hershey-bound Berlin basketball team savors community sendoff

Mike Mastovich, The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.
·2 min read

Mar. 24—BERLIN — The street in front of Berlin Brothersvalley High School was lined with dozens of blue-clad basketball fans of all ages on Wednesday afternoon.

Students from elementary school to high school stood and cheered alongside their parents, teachers, coaches and people from the community who held signs, banners or balloons.

Local fire department vehicles, police cars and ambulances drove past with sirens and horns blaring as a charter bus followed the procession.

The next stop, approximately 3 hours away, was Hershey, where the District 5 champion Berlin Brothersvalley boys basketball team will face District 11 champion Nativity BVM at the Giant Center, with a state championship at stake. The PIAA Class 1A boys title game will begin at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.

"It's just a great community," Berlin boys basketball coach Tanner Prosser said after a final practice at the school gymnasium just before the team boarded the bus. "They're very supportive of all the athletic teams and the kids.

"It's just an exciting time for the school," he said. "A lot of the kids were spending time (Wednesday) getting ready for the send off, making signs and posters. Our kids are appreciative of it all the time."

This is the boys basketball team's first trip to the state title game, but Berlin has had previous championship experience. The girls basketball team coached by Rachel Prosser, who is Tanner's wife, won the Class 1A state championship in Hershey in 2019.

"I think they may have saw what the girls got to do in addition to the games and wanted to do some of that," Tanner Prosser said of what his players learned from the girls' gold-medal performance two years ago. "Honestly, they just like to play and they believe in each other regardless of who, where or when they are playing."

Tanner Prosser, who also is the athletic director at Berlin, said each team will receive 650 tickets to the state championship game in Hershey. The crowd sizes are limited due to COVID-19 pandemic guidelines and precautions.

Regardless of how many are in the stands, the Mountaineers know the Berlin community has the team's figurative back.

"The community support is awesome," senior Will Spochart said. "They're behind us. Every game they come to. It's really great knowing the community is behind us."

Senior Preston Foor said he expects the atmosphere to be memorable. He also is counting on a blue wave in the Berlin portion of the stands.

"We're not playing 5-on-5 when we get to Hershey," Foor said. "We're playing 635-on-5. We have the whole town behind us and I can't thank them enough."