Two steps down and three to go for the Berlin boys' basketball team.
The fifth-ranked Redcoats took a big step forward in beating a behemoth Waterford team, 54-37 in Berlin in the second round of the CIAC Class L state tournament.
The teams were close throughout the first three quarters. Berlin led 10-9 after one quarter and 25-19 at halftime. The Redcoats led 23-11 at one point in the second quarter but the bench struggled and Waterford went on an 8-2 run the rest of the way to close to within six points at half.
Both teams scored 14 points in the third quarter as the lead stayed at six points, 39-33 going into the final quarter.
That is when the Berlin defense rose up. The Redcoats did not allow Waterford to score until there was a minute left in the game. Berlin opened the quarter on a 14-0 run to lead 54-33 with two minutes left. The Lancers scored two late layups off steals for their only points of the period.
Max Delorenzo led Berlin with 14 points, followed by Mike Rector with 12 and Kevin Stritch with 11.
Patrick Rogers led Waterford with 11 points while 6-foot-9 center Nolan Long had eight points. Waterford's explosive duo of Devante Valentine and Gary McLeod combined for just nine points.
Berlin is now 19-5 and plays in the quarterfinals in Wallingford against fourth-ranked Lyman Hall on Monday night. Waterford ends an impressive season 17-7.
"Our defense was really good tonight," Berlin coach Mike Veneziano said. "They were bigger than us at every position so we had to work hard on the boards and on the defensive end.
"I thought Kevin Stitch played very well. He gave us a boost. He didn't turn the ball over ad went hard to the hoop. He and Mike Rector and Max all got to the hoop and finished against their big guys, which was huge."
Veneziano also praised the play of Jeremy DeSimone off the bench. He was needed when Bobby Mozzicato picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter.
"He played big minutes for us," Veneziano added.
Only three more steps ... starting Monday in Wallingford.