Bears Eat Birds: Basketball Edition

The big moment is finally here, the moment both players and basketball fans have been waiting for: the rivalry varsity game between Royal Oak and Berkley. After a year of practice and intense preparation to make their big comeback, the team proved their worth Friday, January 20th, by bringing home yet another victory this season.

Long before the tip-off even happened, the Berkley team spent a lot of time and energy making sure Berkley supporters left the Royal Oak High School gym feeling good to represent BHS. Senior and one of the team’s most valuable players, Tamir Runinkevich, said before the big game, “We had a lot of intense practices the week leading up to the game.” Not only does this game put ample pressure on the players, but it brings in the crowds like never before. Coach Sermo even said it himself on Twitter, tweeting shortly after the Berkley’s victory: “@TheBearPack21, the best student section in Oakland County. Way to show out tonight.” There is no doubt that the team felt supported when they looked at the student section Friday night. Runinkevich also highlights the most rewarding part of playing Royal Oak every year: “the crowd’s involved, the bench is involved, the coaches; there’s just a lot more connection and communication behind everything.”

Starting the game off right, shooting guard Jacob Sheriff makes the first basket, followed by a sensational three-pointer by junior Micah Green. Green shares with us his strategy for a successful game, saying, “Defense, defense, defense, that’s what I focus on. Also trying to bring energy to my team is critical.” While lots of great shots and communication is taking place on the court, off the court the crowd is as passionate as ever. Passionate Berkley sports fan Jamie Hertzberg shares that he was “exhilarated and constantly on edge while watching the game.” With 38 seconds on the clock, Berkley and Royal Oak are tied, putting extra pressure on the players and extra stress on their peers watching. The first quarter finishes off strong with Berkley leading by two points. It really is true that the first quarter sets the tone for the rest of the game.

Leading into the second quarter, Junior Michael Onaha gets off to a good start with a couple of layups, likely giving Runinkevich the confidence he needs to follow up with a long three-pointer that sends the Berkley crowd into a frenzy. With a few more epic shots here and there, and some air balls by Royal Oak, Berkley leads yet again by two points, ending the first half of a remarkable game.

The three-pointers truly did seem neverendless, and matched with their amount of breakaways, there was no way Berkley was going to let Royal Oak have this one. When the final buzzer rang, it was a good day to be a student at BHS. Berkley’s boys varsity team won by nine points over Royal Oak. Despite being out with an injury, Senior Alex Basmadjian reflects on the hard work of his teammates and the support of the crowd, saying, “It felt amazing to win, and I really think it was the energy of the Bear Pack that brought us this huge win. We all have this deep rivalry with Royal Oak instilled in us so this game meant a lot.”

The game’s highest contributor was Tamir Runinkevich, who scored 24 points, followed by Jacob Sheriff and Micah Green, all leading their team to the ultimate victory with the help of fans and fellow teammates. This win not only puts Berkley above their rivals, but further solidifies something Berkley has that is far more valuable than any triumph: community.