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Gordon nice addition to Berkmar hoops
Guard averaging 16.6 ppg for Region 8 champs

De'Marion Gordon may have been an unknown commodity to many people in the Berkmar boys basketball program when he first transferred to the school last fall.

But that was not the case with others, especially Patriots coach Tommy McWhorter.

The 6-foot guard played in McWhorter's program at South Cobb High School during his two-year tenure at the Austell school.

So, when Gordon came to Berkmar, McWhorter knew the kind of talent he was bringing with him, and he had high hopes the senior would have a positive impact on his team.

So far, so good. Gordon has averaged 16.6 points and 5.0 assists per game, and is a big reason the Patriots (21-5) are back in the Class AAAAA state tournament - which they will begin with a first-round home matchup with Sprayberry on Friday night - after a three-year absence.

"He's had a tremendous impact," McWhorter said of Gordon. "He's another kid who's highly-skilled and has a great knack for the basketball.

"He's provided us with something we didn't have last year - a lot of outside shooting. Whenever you have a kid like that who can shoot the basketball, it frees up the other kids on your team."

Gordon's presence has freed up fellow senior Wesley Witherspoon, who has been a target of Berkmar opponents throughout his career.

Of course, that's not the only reason Witherspoon has to be glad Gordon is with the Patriots.

He's actually known Gordon longer than McWhorter has.

"I played AAU ball with Wesley with the Ben Hill Tigers when we were little kids," Gordon recalled. "I talked to him during last year during AAU season and he was talking about how (Berkmar's program) had been down since his brothers (William and Wynton) left."

The Patriots are back now, thanks in no small part to Gordon, whose familiarity with Witherspoon and especially McWhorter has helped him fit into the Berkmar program like a glove.

"I played my 10th-grade year (for McWhorter at South Cobb)," Gordon said. "I was the backup's backup at guard, but I got to watch a lot about how he coaches. I really like his personality and he taught things on the court. He's a good coach. If he sees you down, he tries to pick you up."

Of course, the comfort level works both ways.

With Gordon having played a year for McWhorter, he knew exactly the type of player he was getting.

And having spent another year in South Cobb's junior varsity program during McWhorter's tenure there, Gordon knew perhaps even more about the coach than the Patriots, who were still getting used to him after just one season.

"D was kind of my inside guy with the team," McWhorter joked. "Being familiar and how we do things, it's helped him and the other kids become comfortable with me. ... He was the one saying to the other guys, 'Coach Mac is a good guy.'"

That doesn't mean McWhorter didn't see some things from Gordon that needed to change when he got to Berkmar.

While Gordon's skills have dramatically increased since he last saw him, McWhorter asked for more.

"De'Marion developed some habits we weren't too proud of," McWhorter said. "We knew he was skilled and what we wanted him to be was more consistent each night. But all this year, he's been very consistent."

As familiar as Gordon has become at Berkmar, he also shares some familiarity with the Patriots' first-round opponent, Sprayberry.

He has played against a few of the Yellow Jackets before, including starting guard Colin Slotter.

Likewise, McWhorter has coached against Sprayberry before and expects the visitors from east Cobb County to be a formidable challenge.

"I just look at their team and see players who play hard and play well together," McWhorter said. "And I expect them to be as hungry as we are. So, it will be a tough game."

SideBar: State Basketball

First round basketball games

Friday's games

Class AAAAA boys

7 p.m. - Northview at Central Gwinnett

7 p.m. - Collins Hill at Marietta

7 p.m. - Harrison at Norcross

7 p.m. - Sprayberry at Berkmar

7 p.m. - McEachern at Peachtree Ridge

7:30 p.m. - Meadowcreek at Centennial

7:30 p.m. - Parkview at Wheeler

Class AAAA boys

7 p.m. - Tucker at Dacula

Class AA boys

7:30 p.m. - Dawson County at GAC

Class AAAAA girls

6:30 p.m. - Brookwood at Chattahoochee

Saturday's games

Class AAAAA girls

5 p.m. - Sprayberry at Central Gwinnett

n 7 p.m. - North Gwinnett at Marietta

7 p.m. - Campbell at Mill Creek

7 p.m. - Berkmar at Northview

7 p.m. - Milton at Parkview

7 p.m. - Peachtree Ridge at McEachern

7 p.m. - North Cobb at Duluth

Class AA girls

6 p.m. - Fannin County at Wesleyan

6 p.m. - Union County at GAC

7 p.m. - Buford at Putnam County

Class AA boys

7:30 p.m. - Fannin County at Wesleyan

Class A girls

6 p.m. - Hebron Christian Academy at Trion

7 p.m. - Providence Christian Academy at Aquinas