After a season full of accolades and program-firsts, Keyarah Berry now has another honor to add to the stack. The junior from Rockmart is the Rome News-Tribune Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year.
Berry’s dominance on the court this past season left little doubt as to who deserved the title of best player in Northwest Georgia.
She was an unstoppable force, crossing the 40-point plateau eight separate times, earning First Team All-State recognition, and becoming the leading scorer in Rockmart history, all while pulling in scholarship offers from the likes of Indiana and Seton Hall.
With their anchor averaging 32.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 4.5 steals per game, the Lady Yellow Jackets won their second straight Region 7-AA championship and advanced to the Class AA Final Four for the first time in school history.
Reflecting on his star’s record-breaking year, Rockmart coach Andre Clark specifically remembers one in-game huddle from mid-December. The Lady Yellow Jackets were playing their arch-rival Cedartown on the road and were down by double digits.
“We were without Megan Little, so it was kind of on (Berry’s) shoulders,” Clark said. “I looked at her and said ‘Listen, you have to take control of this game.’ And the next thing I know, she might have scored 10 in a row.”
Rockmart ended up winning 54-50, with Berry scoring 46 points in the come-from-behind victory.
All season long, facing opponents’ game-plans specifically tailored to stop her, Berry still managed to assert her will on the court. However, her impact in the locker room may have been just as important. Clark says that as much as Berry enjoyed the individual accolades, she gained even more satisfaction from her teammates’ success.
“She is the ultimate teammate,” Clark said. “A lot of times, people kind of look at me funny when I say she’s unselfish, that she’s probably the best teammate. If you watch any of our games, when her teammates make a shot, you watch her reaction. She reacts more when they make shots than when she makes a shot.”
Somehow, Berry found yet another gear when Rockmart entered postseason play. After exploding for 44 points in a 57-56 win over Chattooga in the region championship game, Berry averaged 39.6 points and 11.3 rebounds over the Lady Yellow Jackets’ first three state tournament games.
“It really shows what type of player she is,” Clark said, “because you’re talking about a player who had done this for 25-plus games where she’s played 32 minutes almost every night. Her commitment to the team, her willingness to say ‘I’m gonna leave it all on the court for my teammates, for my school. I’m giving everything I got’ was there regardless of whatever recognition she was getting.”