Berkley girls hoops team takes aim at elusive division title

By: Mike Moore | Woodward Talk | Published December 4, 2013

 Berkley High junior Sophia Hall tries to drive past sophomore Celia Somers in a recent practice.

Berkley High junior Sophia Hall tries to drive past sophomore Celia Somers in a recent practice.

Photo by Deb Jacques

BERKLEY — Too long.

Way too long, actually.

That’s how Jordan Gruppen described the Berkley High girls basketball team’s drought, as far as division titles are concerned.

“It’s been since 1988 that we won a league,” he said. “And I only know that because that’s what it says on a banner in the gym.”

With the 2013-14 season off and running, Gruppen feels 2014 may be as good a time as any to put an end to the suffering.

“The chemistry and the positive energy is one of the first things that jump out at you with this year’s team,” Gruppen said last week. “We’re kind of inexperienced, but I think the chemistry is good enough to make this a real good year.”

A season after going 12-10 in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division and placing third, Berkley graduated just one senior, but had a few others who decided not to return to the team.

While three starters are back in the mix, varsity experience beyond that is relatively slim.

“Which means we may have some growing pains,” Gruppen said. “But I still think it comes down to how these girls are able to work together. So far, the practices have been great, and that gives me a lot of hope for the potential they have.”

Celia Somers, Emily Koerner and Grace Hammerle are all back to anchor the starting lineup.

Somers and Koerner led the team in scoring last season with roughly nine points per game, each. Koerner averaged seven rebounds, as did Hammerle.

“The scoring is there, as is the rebounding,” Gruppen said. “Defensively, we were strong last year, and I expect to be again.”

Ferndale High won the Blue last winter and will likely be a top contender again. Southfield High will also have a shot, and Gruppen said Oak Park High has vastly improved.

Still, after looking over his team, the way the division could shake out and the potential he feels he has this year, there is optimism.

“It’s time, absolutely,” Gruppen said of winning the Blue. “It’s a goal every year, and if you ask me, ‘2014’ would look great on that banner.”