Seniors Tyler and Garrett Berger have been monumental to the success of Mark Morris’ boys basketball team this year.
The twins have helped the Monarchs to a shared Greater St. Helens 2A League title and sole ownership of the 2A Southwest District crown. Now they’re looking to earn a state trophy.
Mark Morris and the Berger twins begin that journey Saturday at 4 p.m., when they take on Mountlake Terrace at W.F. West High School in Chehalis.
“They walk alike. They talk alike. They even have the same dance moves,” MM coach Bill Bakamus said. “I can separate them because Garrett has a funkier hairdo.”
Tyler and Garrett came to MM their sophomore years from Timberline High School in Boise, Idaho after spending the bulk of their childhood in Vancouver, Wash. It was different, they say, and were welcomed in a way that took them back.
“It was kind of weird because people knew who we were,” Garrett said. “It’s different than playing in Boise. ... The tradition, the culture is so strong here.”
Both of them played guard growing up, but their size — Tyler is 6-foot-4 and Garrett is listed at 6-foot-5 — made them a natural fit at forward.
This year in particular they’ve been giving defenses another kind of fit.
“You can deal with one. It’s the two of them that makes it really tough,” Columbia River coach David Long said. “I’ve always told our kids that there’s three types of players that always scare a coach — the ones that shoot, ones that score, and the ones that scare us the most are the ones who can do both.”
The brothers are exactly that, but they’re not the stereotypical forwards.
“I don’t drive a lot,” Garrett said, “but Bakamus has preached playing down low.”
Both are still working at playing with their backs to the rim, but they’ve progressed as slashers, and it’s their ability to score from anywhere that makes them a force.
“They’re scary when they have the ball,” Long said. “Their ability to rise up and shoot the 3 from anywhere on the floor, you have to respect that.”
As brothers, there is some natural chemistry. As twins, the two work as well as any two players could.
“We never really go to the gym by ourselves. We always will go together,” Garrett said. “I remember in Boise we were always within a point or two of each other.”
This season, there’s only a half point differential in their scoring averages (17.48 for Garrett and 18.13 for Tyler). What’s more, though, is that when one has an off night, the other picks up the slack.
“I think it’s because we’ve been playing with each other for so long. I feel like it’s good to have two offensive weapons like my brother and I,” Tyler said. “We know what the other is going to do that I can see when I need to step up.”
MM’s three biggest games this season came against Columbia River. The first was a 65-41 loss on the road, a game where the team couldn’t find a rhythm. Tyler sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer against the Chieftains at home three weeks later in a 45-42 win which helped MM to a share of the league title.
The twins combined for 34 points in a 50-49 district championship victory last Friday, cementing their importance to the team and their dominance in the league.
“Our goal is to hold them to 30 or less combined,” Long said. “They were definitely the biggest matchup issue in the league and it wasn’t even close.”
ONE FINAL RUN
With their final season at its apex, the Berger twins are hoping to go further than the team has in recent state tournaments. The fact they’ve been there, though, is something Bakamus cites as a reason for optimism. The Monarchs fell to Selah and Foss in last year’s regionals and state tournament, respectively.
“They know what the expectations are. Everything is going to be heightened; each possession is important,” Bakamus said. “They don’t seem to get rattled.”
Their wins over Columbia River, which Bakamus considered the best team in the league heading into the season, is another point of confidence.
“When we beat a team like that it shows us that we can beat anyone,” Tyler said. “It’s our chance to go out with a bang. A lot of these guys it’ll be the last time that we play.“