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Roberson’s 39 points lead Lady ’Jackets past Encinal

By Tim Haran Daily Planet Correspondent
Thursday February 22, 2001

It took the Berkeley High girls’ basketball team nearly two minutes to score its first points against Encinal Tuesday night, a lapse that may have cost the ’Jackets its second 100-plus point game in two weeks. 

At any rate, Berkeley still managed to score the game’s first 14 points, hold Encinal to single digits in two of the four quarters, and lead from start to finish in the team’s 93-35 victory over the visiting Jets.  

The ’Jackets jumped to a 22-6 lead after the first quarter, but Encinal regrouped and kept pace with Berkeley through much of the second. Berkeley increased its lead slightly to 39-19 heading into the locker room. 

The Jets’ Jillian Dasher scored the first two points of the third quarter before Berkeley went on a 20-0 run that didn’t end until Encinal’s Amber Carswell scored a hoop with 1:22 left in the period. During the ’Jackets’ run, senior Danielle Milburn scored eight of her 14 points, while Robin Roberson added six of her game-high 39. Senior Gelater Fullwood tossed in four and junior Angelita Hutton contributed a bucket. 

It was a mind-numbing homecoming for Encinal head coach Tanda Rucker, who played on Berkeley’s 1991 state championship team. Seated on the bench beside her injured star point guard Raushanah Bashir, the coach watched in disbelief as the ’Jackets defense forced the Jets to take bad shots. 

“Encinal’s point guard was hurt and she’s an all-league player,” Berkeley coach Gene Nakamura said, referring to Bashir. “I don’t know if it would have been any closer if she had played, but we just overpowered them. We have too much team strength and depth for them.” 

The Jets lost to Berkeley by 15 points earlier this season, but without Bashir in the lineup Tuesday were no match for the ’Jackets. 

“It’s tough without our point guard; she runs the show, she sets up the players,” Rucker said. “(Amber) English and Carswell are the wing players and we had them playing point tonight, which is a brand new experience for them.” 

With the win Berkeley improves to 21-5 overall and 12-0 in the Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League. Encinal, meanwhile, drops to 14-12 and 8-4 in league play.  

Berkeley junior guard Hutton sparked the offense midway through the fourth quarter with two assists to Joy White underneath. In the same two-minute stretch, Hutton recorded two steals and scored six points. 

“I thought Angelita played a great game. She had some great passes,” Nakamura said. “I asked her if she had any change left because she was throwing dimes all over the place.” 

Nakamura used Tuesday’s game as an opportunity to get his team leaders ready for postseason play. 

“In the playoffs, our senior players are going to have to play longer games and they aren’t used to that,” he said. “They’ve been playing 10 or 12 minutes. They’ve got to start cranking it up and be ready to go longer.” 

At the same time, the sizable lead against Encinal allowed the coach to play his entire bench.  

“The good thing about these games is I can play all 12 players,” Nakamura said. “During the playoffs it’s a little different when every game counts.” 

The bench contributed, but the night belonged to Roberson. In addition to scoring 39 points, the senior caused a slew of problems for the Encinal offense by cutting off passing lanes and disrupting outside shots. 

“They were having a hard time getting good shots off and they gave us the ball, we just started running by them,” Nakamura said. “We went back to half-court pressure after we built our lead. They just couldn’t stop our 1-3-1 zone.” 

After playing her last regular-season game in Berkeley, Roberson said the finality of it has yet to sink in. 

“It really hasn’t hit me yet that it’s my last league home game,” Roberson said. “I’m glad I scored as many points as I did so I don’t say ‘man, I only had 12 points in my last game.’ But it felt good.” 

Seniors Roberson, Milburn and Fullwood were recognized before the game for their contributions to the team. Nakamura was also presented with a plaque commemorating his 400 wins as coach of the ’Jackets.