Berkeley High School’s boys basketball team brings back very little varsity experience but the Stags have looked like seasoned veterans out of the gate this winter.
Maybe culture doesn’t graduate.
The Stags, apparently retooling after going 26-2 and finishing runner-up in Class 5A, opened the regular season with three convincing victories over Battery Creek (63-42), Timberland (55-34) and Stall (82-62).
They travel to Ashley Ridge on Tuesday, Dec. 10 and host Woodland High School on Friday, Dec. 13 and Timberland High School on Tuesday, Dec. 17.
Among the group that moved on were the top four scorers. They won a region crown for the third straight year and went on to have the best season in school history.
“This year’s team only has two guys with varsity experience,” BHS coach Joe Wallace said. “The others either played JV or didn’t play high school basketball at all last year. That’s the unique and challenging thing about this team. We are excited about the challenge this year brings. The last few years, we’ve had several guys who were on varsity for two or three years so their chemistry was already there and they knew about the speed and intensity of varsity basketball.”
Guard Hakeem Meggett, a senior, returns after averaging 7.4 points and three rebounds in 2018-19. Guard Solomon Butler, a junior, was a regular contributor, too.
“With this year’s group, they are learning on the run and it’s definitely a work in progress,” Wallace said. “So far, we are 3-0 and we’ve had different people step up in each game to lead us in scoring and rebounding.”
Junior guard Mark Crawford had a nice varsity debut, pouring in 24 points. In the Stags’ second game, junior guard Jalen Wallace recorded a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Meggett has been consistent, averaging 12 points. He also leads in assists and steals.
Junior guard Framon Frasier had a 13-point game against Battery Creek.
“We don’t have the size that we’ve had the last few years but we are still creating a lot of steals and deflections on defense, which we are turning in to points for us on offense,” Wallace said. “There is no pressure on us. We’ve been picked to finish no higher than fourth in the region. The guys are playing unselfish basketball. That is very important. We have been stressing the “We before Me” mentality and the kids are embracing it.”