Steve Roustio has really enjoyed having Kenny Berry on his boys’ basketball team.
“A kid like Kenny Berry has done more for the program in Granite City than I could ever probably say in words because he’s one of those kids who is a joy to be around for every coach,” the Granite City coach said.
But Roustio is upset that Berry’s outstanding high school basketball career is coming down to its final two months. Berry is one of three seniors on the Granite City boys’ basketball team.
“It’s a bittersweet thing because you want to have a kid like that in your program and never graduate,” Roustio said. “But that’s not what life’s about. This is just the beginning of Kenny’s basketball career. He’s going to go on and do some bigger and better things. It’s a matter of him selecting the right school where he could fit in and plug in, whether that’s a junior college, an NAIA school, a Division II or III school.”
Berry has been valuable to the Warriors since he joined the varsity in his sophomore year. Going into Granite City’s game with Civic Memorial on Tuesday, Berry had 1,127 career points. He’s the Warriors’ top scorer at 19.8 points per game this season.
Berry got a scare against East St. Louis on Jan. 8, coming out of the 75-50 loss in the second quarter because of a knee injury and never returning to the contest. It doesn’t look to be long term though, as Berry is listed as day-to-day with the injury and will return to lead the Warriors.
“I’m happy for the kid,” Roustio said. “He’s a great kid. He’s done a lot for our program, not just this season. Our younger guys take notice of the fact that not only he’s good, but the reason he’s good because he worked at it. He made himself a player. Nobody made Kenny Berry what Kenny Berry is today except for Kenny Berry.”
On Dec. 18 against Edwardsville, Berry reached a milestone after making a free throw in the second quarter. He scored his 1,000th career point.
“It’s huge,” Berry said. “It’s a very big deal in my high school basketball career. I’m very proud. It’s a big accomplishment for me to move forward. We still have more work to do now.”
Berry is setting his sights on helping his team finish with a winning season this winter. The Warriors took an 8-6 record into Tuesday’s game against Civic Memorial.
In Berry’s first season with the varsity as a sophomore, the Warriors won just two games. The next year, Granite City finished 11-17.
Berry said Roustio has been the big reason for his team’s improvement from two seasons ago.
“My coach is on us all of the time,” the Granite City senior said. “He wants the best for us.”
Berry started playing basketball when he was in fifth grade. His older brother, Antonio Treadway Jr., played basketball at Madison High.
“I used to hang out with my brother a lot and just going up against him and beating me every day,” Berry said. “It helped me get more motivation throughout the years to get better.”
Berry averaged 13.6 points per game as a sophomore. The next year, Berry averaged 17 points per game and earned all-Southwestern Conference honors.
Berry began his senior year on Nov. 23 with a 30-point effort against Triad at Memorial Gymnasium. He scored 34 in the Warriors’ 66-64 loss to Collinsville in the consolation semifinals of the Prairie Farms Classic on Dec. 29.
On Jan. 5 against Collinsville, Berry scored the game-winning basket with three seconds left to lift the Warriors to a 48-46 win, snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Kahoks.
Berry also earned Most Valuable Player honors at the Stove Top Stuffing Thanksgiving Tournament and was named to the all-tournament team at the Prairie Farms Classic in Collinsville.
Roustio said Berry has been a versatile player since he joined the varsity in his sophomore year.
“He can get to the rim, he can finish and he gets fouled and he’s a great free throw shooter and he can pull up 12- to 15-footers,” Roustio said. “He can shoot the open 3. His ball handling is better. He’s just an incredible player. His defense has gotten a lot better. We’re still trying to get him to understand that as much as we’re asking him to do on offense, he’s one of five guys who need to tighten up on defense in every single position. He’s taking less and less defensive possessions. He’s starting to understand that he has to stop his opponent.”
Roustio said before he got his driver’s license, Berry would ride his bike to workouts.
“He’s always looking to improve his skill set,” Roustio said. “He’s one of those kids who just bought in. He just bought into the extra stuff that was necessary to make himself one of the elite players.”
Berry credits his family and the Granite City coaching staff for his outstanding high school basketball career.
“My family always pushes me and my coaches always keep me on the right track and give me a greater life,” Berry said. “It’s motivation to get to the next level.”
Roustio said Berry will have a bright future in basketball.
“He’s a good kid, hangs around good people, makes good choices and he’s a good student,” he said. “That boy is going to be successful, no doubt about it. You’ve got to give his folks (Fraunka and Antonio Treadway) a lot of credit because they raised a good boy there.”