Sophomore pours in 34 points against El Cerrito
This summer, Berkeley High sophomore Khion Tate was touted as one of the best boys’ basketball sophomores in the state. Tate, while a solid contributor so far this season, hadn’t had the impact many expected. But Thursday night that all changed.
Putting the ’Jackets on his back after the first quarter, Tate scored 34 points against El Cerrito on Thursday, carrying the uninspired Berkeley squad to a 63-50 win.
Tate was an amazing 17-for-19 from the floor and showed an all-around game that had previously eluded him. Aside from his stunning array of long jumpers, solid inside work and two ferocious dunks, Tate pulled down 7 rebounds and had 3 assists against the Gauchos, who held a 28-26 halftime lead before Tate took over in the second half.
“We don’t win this game without Khion, plain and simple,” Berkeley head coach Mike Gragnani said. “We were stagnant, and we needed someone to come in and hit shots.”
Tate did exactly that. He scored 10 of Berkeley’s 13 points in the second quarter to keep them close, then scored 14 in the first five minutes after halftime, including a breakaway dunk that put the ’Jackets up 42-32. El Cerrito would never get closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
“This was the first time I put everything together in one game,” said Tate, whose previous high this year was 12 points. “I knew if I worked hard I’d break out eventually.”
Tate said he took 200 jump shots before the game, and his stroke from the outside was clearly outstanding. But it was his final two points, a baseline jam over El Cerrito’s Dominique Thomas, that got the Berkeley crowd really pumped up.
“I knew as soon as he came down the lane on me that I’d get over him,” Tate said of the play. “My confidence was sky-high.”
Tate’s outstanding night offset a sluggish night for the rest of the ’Jackets. Tate’s teammates combined to shoot just 29 percent from the field against the Gauchos, with Nate Simmons the second-leading scorer with just 9 points.
Center Damien Burns struggled on offense, shooting just 4-for-12 from the field. His usually dependable touch close to the rim was just a hair off, with several shots rolling around the rim before spinning out. But Burns still managed to grab 13 rebounds and 2 steals.
“Damien just had an off-night tonight,” Gragnani said. “But he still got us some much-needed rebounds.”
El Cerrito gave Berkeley fits with their mid-range game, with forwards Joe Fort and Brandon Jernigan scoring 20 and 13 points, respectively.