HERSHEY, PA (WTAJ) — Berlin’s trip to Hershey comes up short for the second time in three season, as the Mountaineers fall to Imani Christian 81-64 in Thursday’s 1A Championship.

The Saints, led by 6-10 center Alier Maluk, were significant favorites. Maluk is the top Pennsylvania prospect in the class of 2025. He scored 22 in the win.

“These guys wanted to be challenged all year long. There’s no bigger challenge than what they presented. I mean, they’re amazingly skilled. They have size,” said head coach Tanner Prosser. “We were going to have to be close to perfect and we weren’t that. I told the guys, you know, you want to be close to perfect, but if you can get it perfect, you have a perfect effort. That’s all we can ask from you. And I thought we gave it perfect effort. I thought our effort.

Berlins’ Pace Prosper led all scorers with 23 points, and nine rebounds.

“We play hard every day,” he said. “We’re not going to back down from anybody. We’re not scared of anybody. We’ll play anybody, any day, anywhere. And, you know, unfortunately, this one didn’t turn out.”

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It’s the second-straight year Berlin’s season is ended by Imani Christian who beat the Mountaineers 79-70 in the opening round of last season’s state playoffs.

Thursday’s loss is the team’s second in the state championship in three years after, falling to Nativity BVM in overtime in 2021. Berlin has never won a boys basketball championship.