Berkmar girls on an early-season roll

The low point of Berkmar’s girls basketball season thus far came nearly two weeks ago in a 27-point loss to unbeaten Brookwood. It also was a turning point.

The Patriots weren’t happy with their effort against the hot-shooting Broncos, so they’ve bounced back with renewed focus and a four-game winning streak capped off by a win over Lilburn rival Parkview on Monday.

“After that loss to Brookwood, (the girls) decided, ‘We have to do something different,’” first-year Berkmar girls coach Todd McCutcheon said, “and they haven’t looked back since.”

McCutcheon, who took over the program this season from his wife Julie, relies on a senior-heavy team that has high goals this season. Berkmar made the state playoffs last season in surprising fashion, upsetting Shiloh in the region tournament to earn a state berth, the highlight of a 10-19 season.

Though it’s early, the Patriots already are ahead of their pace last season. They carry a 7-3 record into tonight’s road game at Sprayberry, but also boast a 4-1 record in Region 8-AAAAA with wins over Shiloh, South Gwinnett, Central Gwinnett and Parkview.

“The thing with the girls this year is they believe in themselves and have a lot more confidence,” McCutcheon said. “They’re going to play hard the entire game no matter who they’re playing. ... Our goal was to be right there in the mix of things (in the region). We list the (region) standings after every game and it’s something the girls really hang their hat on. They don’t want to lose at home and they don’t want to lose a region game.”

Berkmar sits second in the region standings, behind only Brookwood. It’s a position the group aims to hold or better as the season progresses, using its strong senior class to lead the way.

Heading up the group is four-year starter Ka’Vonne Towns, a Tennessee-Chattanooga signee at point guard. She’s joined by 6-foot-4 Mercer signee Teanna Robinson at post, while seniors Kenisha Watkins, Samantha Aquino and Shamicka Martin also start, though Martin is out briefly for minor knee surgery.

Jazmine Green, who hit the game-winning shot in last season’s region tourney win over Shiloh, is the only junior starter. Senior Victoria Faulkner leads the charge off the bench along with Amy Adame, Daijah Cooke and Queen Briggs.

“I can’t say enough about our seniors and how they’re leading the team, the work ethic they have,” McCutcheon said.

Berkmar will hold its place in the region standings for awhile, as teams use the holiday season for non-region games and tournaments. The next round of 8-AAAAA matchups isn’t until Jan. 4, and the Patriots’ next region game is Jan. 7 when they host Archer.