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Berry stays calm during bus ordeal

By Staff
Nick Johnston, Sports Editor
There was no doubt Johnny Berry and his Hartselle Tigers were going to get there, but how were they going to stop?
Berry, head Hartselle boys coach, was driving the team to Huntsville for a shootaround at the VBC Wednesday before the SportsMed Shootout when he noticed a problem with the bus. As he exited off I-65 onto I-565, the accelerator stuck.
After fighting with the brakes, Berry realized he and his team might be in trouble.
"I turned to Coach (Gary) Orr and said the accelerator is stuck," Berry said. "He said to pull over, and I told him 'Give me another idea.'"
The bus traveled at 65 to 70 miles per hour, and the only thing the brakes did was slow it down just a little bit. Berry was able to wrestle the bus onto Memorial Parkway and then onto Clinton Ave.
"I'm just standing on the brakes, and smoke is going everywhere," Berry said. "I got it down to about 35 miles an hour and just turned it off."
The bus came to a stop about two blocks from the VBC, and Berry said though nothing like this had happened to him before, he stayed calm.
"Luckily, there was nobody on the road," he said. "If traffic would have started to get heavy, I would've just turned off the bus and pulled to the side."
Berry did not blame the ordeal for Hartselle's lack of offense against Johnson in the first round of the SportsMed Shootout. The Tigers lost to Johnson 88-57.
"In all truthfulness," Berry said, "we went into that game a little wide-eyed. We weren't ready for their kind of speed. We needed that. We've seen big, but we had not seen that quickness."
Hartselle went on to defeat Stanhope-Elmore 78-62.
"They're (Stanhope-Elmore) a lot like us. They are going through a phase were they've graduated some kids and lost a lot from last year," Berry said. Stanhope-Elmore reached the Final Four in Birmingham two years ago. "We did a real good job of being patient against them."
Hartselle fell out of the tournament with a 63-58 loss to Meridian (Miss.).
Last year, the Tigers reached the championship game only to lose in the finals.