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Berkley High girls basketball in contention for OAA Blue title

By: Mark Vest | Woodward Talk | Published February 4, 2020

 Berkley High freshman Jillian Gomes puts the ball up earlier this season. At press time, the Bears were tied for first place in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division.

Berkley High freshman Jillian Gomes puts the ball up earlier this season. At press time, the Bears were tied for first place in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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BERKLEY — After sharing an Oakland Activities Association Blue Division title with Rochester High last season, Berkley High girls basketball is once again battling with the Falcons for the top spot in the division.

At press time, both teams were 5-1 in division play. Birmingham Seaholm is one game back at 4-2.

The tough divisional battles can elicit a variety of emotions for Berkley coach Kirk Carolan.

“It’s nerve wracking, but you put it in perspective: ‘This is fun,’” Carolan said. “As a retired professional educator, I get to coach basketball every day. This is what I do for fun. … The tension is there, but it’s enjoyable.”

Between this season and last, Rochester has been the primary team standing between Berkley and a division championship.

“They’ve been close,” Carolan said. “They’ve beat us twice now on our own floor, so we owe them, and hopefully, we go get them next week. … It is fun.”

Rochester won the first meeting 41-40 at Berkley.

The league leaders meet again at 7 p.m. Feb. 6 at Rochester.

Aside from a race for an OAA Blue title, Carolan has also thought ahead to the district playoffs, which are set to begin March 2. The Bears are in a district hosted by Bloomfield Hills Marian.

The other teams in the district are Birmingham Groves, Seaholm, Bloomfield Hills Marian, Royal Oak High and Southfield A&T.

Some challenging non-divisional games can help prepare the Bears for postseason play.

“Our district is crazy tough,” Carolan said. “Marian always has a top program around the area and sometimes in the state.  … There’s no rollovers there. … So we have to play some of these better teams in the OAA Red and Macomb County leagues.”

The Bears have something going this season that could help in their attempt to navigate a tough district.

“I feel like we have more depth maybe than we’ve had in the past couple of years,” Carolan said. “All our kids are playing. They’re getting minutes every night, the way we play; we run and get up and down the floor and get after it. So our kids have to be fresh and rested. … I think that’ll help us down the road also with the younger kids having some experience.”

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