Winning – not energy shots and nerds – fuels Billings Skyview’s Brooke Berry now | Girls basketball


INVOICING – Brooke Berry’s journey to 1,000 career points hasn’t always been fueled by top picks.

Take his freshman year at Billings Skyview. His pre-game basketball ritual sometimes included a trip to the concession stand for a hot dog. Before nearly every game, Berry swallowed a two-ounce bottle of 5-Hour Energy Shot and chased it with handfuls of Nerds candy.

The result was an energetic Berry, okay. She chased basketball wherever it went, trying to make every play no matter how inconsequential the advantage might have been. Of course, the dividends from such a scheme were short lived. Usually midway through the first quarter, certainly at the end, Berry was hunched over at waist level, hands stretching her shorts up to her knees, torso lifting up and down as she tried to catch her breath.

“After the first trimester,” Berry says laughing now, “I was completely out of sugar. Oh, my God, I can’t believe I did that.

Wasted energy, really. Berry was a hard worker, to be sure. But efficiency was lacking, and the statistics showed it.

She averaged 11.7 points per game in her freshman (2018-19), but had an incredible 303 shots to get them. Berry only shot 29% from the ground, which included a performance of 22 of 117 from the 3-point line. By the way, those 117 3 points exceeded the total number of baskets scored by his next closest teammate (Kinsey Frost attempted 110 shots), another indication of where Berry’s decision-making needed to be improved.

Like those sugar crashes, Berry’s confidence plunged. Basketball had always become easy for her, but it was something different.

In the early 2010s, The Billings Gazette sponsored a youth sports page where parents and / or coaches could submit photos of their various sports teams. Buried in the newspaper’s photographic archives are numerous team photos recounting various tournament championships as early as year three featuring Berry and his friends, many of whom are now opponents, such as Maria Stewart of Billings Central and Ryan Dolan and Bella. Murphy from West. His current teammate Cami Harris also appears in a few of them.

So her arrival on the high school stage was supposed to help Skyview turn the tide and help stop a long state tournament drought that had been around since 2001. Maybe there was a part of her that believed, too. to the hype, not realizing that teams rarely get to declare tournaments on a player’s back. Instead, the Falcons won a game in Berry’s freshman.

“I was a 13-year-old freshman and there was a lot of pressure and I felt like I wasn’t helping as much as people thought,” Berry said.

After briefly considering the possibility of transferring, things started to improve. Brent Montague, a longtime friend of the Berry family, was hired to coach the Falcons. Montague’s daughters, Shayla and Allie, had played with Berry before, and Montague, who had known Berry all his life, knew how to get the most out of his new player.

The first to follow was the energy drink and candy routine. Then Montague taught Berry and his teammates how to prepare for games, encouraged them to visualize success. Then it was about making Berry understand the importance of owning a global game and not taking on too many responsibilities.

“I think the biggest thing I’ve seen of her is, hey, you need to know when to go and you need to know when to bring it back a bit and find your teammates. It’s a very fine line, because Brooke is a goalscorer. I mean, she can score in her sleep and that’s awesome, ”Montague said.

“But in order for us to get to where we want to go you have to get other people involved as well and that’s something she’s improved so much with and it’s made her a much better all-around basketball player.”

In sophomore, Berry averaged 16.1 points per game and shot 39 percent from the floor. Last season, as a junior, Berry averaged 16.4 points per game, best in class AA, shooting 49%. And remember those 117 3-point attempts from his freshman season? Berry attempted 70 the next two seasons combined, only 13 of them last year.

This year, Berry has accumulated 39 points in his team’s three games. That puts her at 973 for her career and on track to surpass the 1,000 mark shortly after the season resumes on Tuesday.

Better yet, Berry said, is that the Falcons are winning. In a 1-19 season in its first year, the Falcons have followed with 10-14 and 13-6 seasons and are 2-1 so far in 2021-22. Berry’s second season saw Skyview beat Billings Senior in overtime in a qualifying game for the state to end this long tournament drought, and the Falcons returned to the state last season and finished fourth.

Hopes are high this season for an even better end. Harris, MG Spotted Bear, and Breanna Williams all being legitimate scoring options, Berry no longer has to force things for herself. In fact, in addition to leading AA scoring last season, she was second in assists (4.21 per game), thanks to her teammates. Berry’s defense has also steadily improved (a fifth-best 2.63 per game) and she has always been a strong rebounding goalie (better than 4.0 per game for her career).

Few players give off as much excitement or joy on the pitch as Berry. She can be found laughing during a game (sometimes to herself) or hugging teammates, especially during her three volleyball seasons where celebrations are more common. If there is another sporting event at Skyview and if she has time, Berry is often in the front row, cheering on her classmates.

There’s nothing, Montague said, that Berry “thinks that’s too cool for her.”

“I think strangers are sometimes surprised at how humble she is,” he said. “Brooke has a big heart and is totally involved in all kinds of things at school. She’s a fun kid to be around and she is a big fan of other sports.

“The thing about Brooke is, she’s a very, very good kid and what you see on the pitch with her energy pretty much reflects who she is off the pitch. She’s got incredible energy, meaning. amazing humor and she is a lot of fun for people.

It’s been a long journey up to 1,000 points, a result Berry never expected or anticipated. Her teammates, she said, made her better, and besides, all she ever wanted to do was win games. Her journey will eventually lead her to the University of New Mexico’s Mountain West Conference, where she is scheduled to appear in June to begin her career with the Lobos.

“I always joke, I smile, but I also know when to call,” Berry said. “This is something that Mr. Mon (Montague) has really helped me to mature with. My freshman year, I didn’t know how to mentally prepare for a game, but Mr. Mon taught me how to do it.

“This is the reason I have been so successful at Skyview is just because of the security I have received from Mr. Mon being my coach.”

Those days of energy shots and candy? They are long gone.


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