Berks Catholic dominates Conrad Weiser, 56-36, in Berks Section 2 opener for both

ROBESONIA>> Last March, the girls’ basketball programs from Berks Catholic and Conrad Weiser nearly made history, with both teams falling one victory shy of playing each other in Hershey for the PIAA Class AAA championship.

The Saints and Scouts were seemingly joined at the hip from February onward — through leagues, districts and states.

Tuesday night’s contest at Conrad Weiser represented the first official meeting since those heady days nine months ago (many of the same players competed against each other during the summer).

One club looked as though it could make it back right now; the other has a bit of work to do.

Berks Catholic raced to a 20-point halftime lead and dispatched the host Scouts with relative ease, 56-36, in the Berks League Section 2 opener for both.

Saints’ bigs Devon Merritt and Reading transfer Dejah Terrell — intimidating presences on the floor — posed major matchup headaches for coach Mark Owens’ Scouts.

The James Madison University-bound senior Merritt — fresh off a state volleyball title last month —  caused issues by her defensive and shot-blocking presence in the paint. Her mere appearance there literally forced Weiser to look for points from the perimeter in half-courts sets. Venturing into the lane was not a realistic option for the much smaller Scouts. 

“Devon’s legit,” Owens said. “She’s going to James Madison and she’ll be fine at that level. … Two years ago she had an inside game, but now she has that nice action at the elbow. In warm-ups I saw her hitting threes. So Bob’s really developing her into a nice player.”

Merritt had always been a solid defensive factor for BC head coach Bob Birmingham. Where she has most stepped up her game is at the other end. She led Berks Catholic (4-1, 1-0) in scoring Tuesday night with 16 points, displaying that maturing depth of range away from the rim.

“That’s from all the hard work,” Birmingham said. “Just (Monday) night, Devon stayed 45 minutes late just to shoot around. That’s the best player in the area putting in extra time because she wants to get better.”

Terrell scored 10 of her 11 points after the break. Taylor Keys, the third member of BC’s potent frontcourt, added 10.

Conrad Weiser had precious little offensively beyond Chelsea Erkes’ long-range darts from the perimeter. Erkes finished with a game-high 17 points, including four 3-pointers. Tacari Talford was able to penetrate and draw fouls, but scored seven of her 11 total points from the line.

Owens admitted the early season Scouts (1-3, 0-1) are a work in progress.

“Against athletic teams, we’re struggling,” Owens said. “We’ve got to ramp up our practice and understand you’ve got to play at speed. We work hard there, but we’ve got to take practice to game.”

BC was crisp early, roaring out to a 29-9 lead midway through the second quarter. Distribution was spread evenly and shots were falling from all over the floor. Olivia Zdradzinski’s sharp-shooting from the perimeter was enough of an elixir to keep Weiser from completely collapsing on Merritt.

But the hosts cobbled together a 10-0 run from seemingly nowhere (actually, Erkes) to close the half and pull within 29-19.

It could have been a springboard. Instead, the Scouts nearly gave all of it back to open the second half by getting outscored 9-0 to start, effectively burying its chances to get back into the contest.

“It probably means I need to work on my halftime speeches,” Owens said with a chuckle.

“The challenges we had in the summer games, we still have them now. Growing pains. We have kids who were role players last year who are now starters. That’s an adjustment. They’re just going to have to grow. You can’t rush maturity.”


Berks Catholic 56, Conrad Weiser 36

Berks Catholic –  19  10  15  12 — 56

Conrad Weiser –  9  10  5  12 — 36

Berks Catholic

Dimmerling 0 0-0 0, Duncan 1 0-0 3, Baney 0 0-1 0, Gaffney 1 0-0 2, Taylor Keys 4 2-2 10, Cabrera 2 0-0 4, Dejah Terrell 4 3-4 11, Olivia Zdradzinski 4 0-0 10, Lexus Lockhart 0 0-0 0, Devon Merritt 8 0-1 16. Totals 24 5-9 56.

3-pointers: 3 (Zdradzinkski 2, Duncan)

Conrad Weiser

Chelsea Erkes 6 1-1 17, Tacari Telford 2 7-11 11, Townes 3 2-6 8, Paskowski 0 0-0 0, Ingram 0 0-1 0, Kopcik 0 0-2 0, Cordon 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 10-21 36.

3-pointers: 4 (Erkes 4).




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