Herrick, Helmke shine for Berkshire School in win over Roughley-less Salisbury School
SHEFFIELD — Graham Herrick and Noah Helmke teaming up to lead their basketball team to a win is not something new.
The team, though, has changed.
A year after leading the Monument Mountain boys basketball program to a Western Massachusetts Division III finals apperance, the duo now sport the Green and Grey of Berkshire School. The change in uniform colors mattered little as the pair combined to score 36 points in an 86-66 win over Salisbury School in the Bears' season opener. The win came against another Berkshire County product, former Wahconah player Brandon Roughley. Roughley, though, did not play because of an ankle injury.
"Today I was really nervous before the game, but once I got in I got comfortable," Helmke, who canned four, 3-pointers in the second half, said. "In the second half I started getting into a rhythm, and that was really good — for the team, too."
Joining Helmke and Herrick on the Bears' roster this winter is Cavan Brady, a former Mount Everett product doing a post-graduate year at the school a stone's throw away from his alma mater.
"We knew it was going to be a little different, we're used to playing four quarters and this is just two straight halves," said Brady. "I think we did a good job adjusting to it and catching streaks when we needed to. Noah hit five threes, I think, and three of them came in a row. They were just huge."
Helmke finished with 14 points, but it was Herrick's 22-point outburst that really got the Bears going. With Berkshire up 23-12 late in the first half, Herrick went on a streak that featured a made layup, a block, an offensive putback and an assist. For the junior, that little stretch went a long way for the confidence level as he adjusts to life at a new school.
"It was awesome. The energy was high on and off the court, the bench was bumping," Herrick said of the win. "The players on the court, the energy was high, the ball movement was good. We worked together as a family, it was good."
Berkshire got off to a hot start on back-to-back 3-pointers to stake an early 6-0 lead. Berkshire got its first double-digit lead on a bucket by Austin Thompson (5 points), and Helmke's run put the team up 32-18 when he scored on a layup on a pass form Thompson. At halftime, Berkshire led 37-25.
In the second half, Helmke had his breakout moment. His first 3-pointer re-established a double-digit lead at 45-34, then Helmke's second made it 57-37. Salisbury got two points back on a pair of free throws, only for Helmke to can another triple. After Salisbury answered again with a 3-pointer from Damani Thomas and took a timeout. On the ensuing possession, Helmke canned his final 3-pointer on the night. Berkshire School finished the game with 13 made treys to Salisbury's three made 3-pointers.
Herrick said that having Helmke at Berkshire School has provided a bit of familiarity, and he enjoyed watched Helmke have his moment.
"It's good to see him grow and get better, and it's good to have people in my place, too," Herrick said. "People going through the same things as me. It's a lot of fun."
Salisbury made a run at the game despite being down by 20, and Justin Oliveras (18 points) keyed the run with some tough baskets inside. After a Winston Jules (7 points) layup made it a 10-point game, Berkshire responded with a pair of free throws from Jacob Iwowo off of a Thompson steal, and then off a Salisbury miss, Herrick had an offensive rebound and tipped it in to make it 72-58. The exclamation point came inside the final minute, when Herrick got the ball on a fast break and went up for the slam.
"It felt pretty good," Herrick said of the dunk. "I was waiting for one of those. I got my chance and I took it."
Brady got into he game, but did not make a basket. He said that getting used to a new style of play was the real key in the opener.
"Yeah, it's a little bit faster, and playing for Berkshire we have other guys around us that are moving the ball quick," Brady said. "Just keeping up with them and fitting in is a big part of it, and I think we did a good job of that."
Iwowo had 10 for Berkshire in the win, while Ryan Michaels had 16 points. For Salisbury, Sean Ingoglin matched Oliveras' 18 points.
Salisbury falls to 1-3 on the year, although Roughley expects to be back for Saturday's game. Berkshire School, meanwhile, is 1-0 on the year. Salisbury heads to Trinity-Pawling on Saturday for a 7 p.m. tip, while Berkshire heads to The Gunnery for a 2 p.m. contest.
Roughley ready to go
While the game was going on Wednesday, Roughley could be seen actively rooting his team on from the end of the bench. Roughley missed the game with an ankle sprain, which he picked up in the team's opening-day loss to Millbrook.
"I was coming down the court on a fast break and I went to change directions, and I rolled it over some kids' foot," Roughley said. "There was nothing I could do to avoid it. There was a pop and stuff. I played a little bit, and then I came off and it was swollen right through the socks. I could tell."
Thanks to the trainers at Salisbury School, though, Roughley didn't have to rehab for too long.
"I was out, and then it was just a bad sprain, so every day I was in the trainers. usually, this bad sprained ankle is 2-6 weeks healing, but the trainers at school have been edging it along a lot faster," Roughley said. "I've been recovering faster than usual."
This will be another important winter for a 6-foot-8 player. Roughley switched AAU programs over the summer and started running with New Heights out of New York City.
"I played a decent amount, and played against the top guys in my class," Roughley said of his summer. It was always good competition and it got me a lot better, a lot stronger and quicker. I felt like my shot really came along this summer."
Roughley said that his college search is ongoing. While no offers have come in yet, Roughley said he is eyeing a program that will offer "high academics and high basketball." After life at prep school, Roughley said he's as committed to his classroom work as he is his basketball training.
"I definitely got my time management down last year," Roughley said. "This year I'm taking three [advanced placement classes], but it doesn't bother me much because I've gotten used to it and the mentality of basketball and academics, just both. Just nail it in and grind it out."
When he does get back on the court, Roughley said his Salisbury team could have something special building.
"Even after losses like this, we are are still just trying to click together. We just started practicing last week," Roughley said. "We are excited, we are right there. Once we start playing well together, I think we'll be a tough team to beat."
Three new faces in Sheffield
All three of Herrick, Helmke and Brady said that the decision to come to Berkshire School was to open up more options athletically. Brady is doing a post-graduate year, and recently committed to play baseball at Wheaton College.
"I was looking for another year to play baseball to hopefully play in college," Brady said. "I just committed not that long ago to play at Wheaton. Part of it was academics, too, just helping me get to the point I want to be for college."
Helmke, a sophomore, noted that his older sister - Anika — helped play a part in coming to Berkshire School. Anika Helmke graduated from Berkshire School last school year, and is currently playing basketball at Bowdoin.
"She really liked the school, so I decided to come and I really like it so far," Noah Helmke said.
As for Herrick, he is repeating his junior year in an effort to get more exposure for his main sport — baseball.
"It was more for a repeat year, build up my strength, academically, especially for baseball," Herrick said. "I think that gives me the best opportunity to play college baseball."
Herrick said that he had a little bit of contact with Roughley, seeing as Roughley made the decision to repeat at Salisbury a year prior.
"When I was going through the process I texted him and he told me a little bit about his experience," Herrick said, "and how it differs from public schools."
Ironically enough, Herrick said that he only had two prep schools in mind — Berkshire School and Salisbury School.
How did it feel to beat the other school he looked at?
"It was pretty awesome," Herrick said with a grin.
Jules 3-1-7, Thomas 1-0-3, Ingoglin 6-6-18, Cousin 3-2-9, Stone 3-0-7, Oliveras 6-6-18, Carpenter 1-2-4. Totals 23-17-66.
Boswell 4-3-10, Thompson 1-3-5, Iwowo 3-4-10, Herrick 8-5-22, Michaels 5-2-16, Scott 3-0-9, Helmke 4-2-14. Totals 28-19-86.
Salisbury 25 41 — 66
Berkshire 37 49 — 86
3-point goals — S 3 (Thomas, Cousin, Stone). B 13 (Michales 4, Helmke 4, Scott 3, Boswell, Herrick).
Geoff Smith can be reached at email@example.com, @GSmith_Eagle on Twitter and 413-496-6254.
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