East Rock’s Berry torches Rams for 38 points and 12 3-pointers as Eagles roll
ELKTON – The scouting report Strasburg High School girls basketball coach Darin Jenkins put together for his team ahead of its Region 2B tournament quarterfinal game against East Rockingham included a key piece – knowing at all times where Eagles sharpshooter Ali Berry was on the court. No amount of planning could’ve prepared the Rams for just how good the Eagles junior was on Tuesday night.
Berry was spectacular from beyond the 3-point arc, as she dazzled the home crowd with 38 points and 12 3-pointers – both school records – while the Eagles romped to a 66-37 win over the Rams.
Eagles head coach Paul Comer, who at one point during the game asked Berry how big the rim looked, said after the junior’s record-setting performance that it must’ve seemed to Berry that she was shooting into the ocean.
“When she gets hot it’s fun to watch and she does it in practice almost every night,” said Comer, whose team advances to Thursday’s Region 2B semifinal game against George Mason. “I mean sometimes I don’t even know if she goes out here and hits the rim. I’ve been waiting for her to bust loose in a game like that and really go, and I let her go a little bit tonight. Wow, what a performance.”
The first of Berry’s dozen threes came 45 seconds into the game, and by the end of the first period she had 11 points as East Rock (21-5) held an 18-10 lead. At halftime she’d already matched her previous school record of six 3-pointers and had 20 points, and Berry was a perfect 6-for-6 from deep in the second half before exiting the game with the rest of the Eagles’ starters with the game well in hand with 4:19 to play.
Berry was 13-for-21 from the field and attempted 19 3-pointers.
Adding to the impressiveness of her performance, Berry played the entire second half against a box-and-one defense – in which Strasburg tried, without much luck, to shadow the junior using three different players – and regularly hit shots with a hand in her face.
Jenkins said afterward that anything the Rams (14-11) tried against Berry “was not happening.”
“I don’t know what we could’ve done any differently,” said Jenkins, who added that Berry’s shooting display ranked at the top of those he’s seen as a coach. “There were times that we had a hand in her face and she still made it. There were times that she was left wide open and obviously she made those. But she’s a great player. She’s a great shooter. Hats off to her, she had a great night.”
For Strasburg, the loss marked the second time in as many years that East Rockingham has ended its season in the first round of the regional tournament. It also was the third straight blowout loss in a regional first-round game for the Rams, who lost to the Eagles by 48 points last season and to Wilson Memorial by 41 in 2016.
East Rockingham started Tuesday night’s game with a 9-0 run and held Strasburg without a field goal for the first 2:45 of the contest.
The Rams, who struggled with turnovers against East Rock’s aggressive full-court man-to-man pressure, finally appeared to settle in after falling behind 14-2. Six-foot-3 sophomore Christyan Reid – who led the Rams with 14 points and four rebounds in the loss – gave Strasburg some life by scoring 6 points during an 8-2 Ram run that cut the Eagles’ lead to 18-10.
“We can’t quite duplicate what they do to us in practice,” Jenkins said of East Rock’s press, which helped force 23 Strasburg turnovers. “We can try. We (the coaches) jump in there and play along with them sometimes and we really try, but until you get out there and you see how aggressive they are and how fast it is. I think at first that 9-0 run, when they jumped out, was because of the pressure. Then we sort of stepped back and we got our feet underneath of us and we said ‘OK, we can do this.’ I was proud of the girls, the way they were able to handle it.”
Strasburg trimmed another 12-point deficit to a 24-17 Eagles lead midway through the second period when sophomore Jaden Alsberry hit a jumper from the free-throw line that Camerin Alsberry followed with the Rams’ only 3-pointer of the night. But the Rams turned the ball over on their final three possessions of the first half and Berry connected on back-to-back treys in the final minute to send East Rockingham into halftime with a 32-19 lead.
The Eagles, who connected on 15 of their 24 made field goals from beyond the 3-point arc and shot 50 percent from deep, outscored Strasburg 21-8 in the third period to blow the game open.
Daniella Henry had 6 points and four rebounds for Strasburg, Jaden Alsberry had 4 points and six other Rams had at least 2.
“I’m proud of the girls tonight. We had a great effort. They didn’t give up,” Jenkins said. “Our two seniors (Camerin Alsberry and Hannah Alexander) that were out here, I thought they’ve helped us all year. They’ve been great leaders and we’re gonna miss those guys.”