HOULKA, Miss. (WCBI) — The Houlka Wildcats have more than doubled its win total from the 2019 season.
Sitting at 17-10 heading into the district tournament after a 6-22 campaign a season ago, the Wildcats have been powered by one of the state’s most electric scorers, Da’Shun Berry.
“We have a rule, he must touch the ball every possession,” Houlka head coach Seth Burt said, “That doesn’t mean he has to shoot it each possession but he needs to touch it.”
The senior Wildcat is averaging a staggering 33.1 points, the second most in the state of Mississippi according to MaxPreps, while adding eleven rebounds a game.
While Berry might be the one taking the shots, he says, it’s his fellow Wildcats who help him shine.
“I learn how to shoot better,” Berry said. “I learned how my teammates moved and get around. Where they want the ball. When they want the ball. I just use them to help me out.”
According to Burt, Berry might as well live in the gym. That’s how often you can find him there, practicing and perfecting his game.
Of course, practice makes perfect. However, the Wildcat’s scoring leader does what a lot of basketball greats have done throughout the years, draw inspiration from the best players that came before.
Berry credits former teammate and Itawamba Community College standout Ma’Darius Hobson for his play.
“I learned a lot from him. Just watching him play. How he carried himself at practice. I tried to be just like him and take it on the court and be just like him,” Berry said.
“When I was in 7th and 8th grade and you hear about Ma’Darius scoring all these points and figured, I’ll try it and God let it happen.”
It’s safe to say the man who had the greatest impact on Berry’s game is the late great Jimmy Guy McDonald.
“When I was maybe 6th grade, 7th grade, he used to let me practice with the high schoolers when I was younger. I just knew he was a great person. No matter what nobody said about him, he was a great person,” Berry said.
“He had talked to me about Da’Shun from the time he was in 7th grade, he just couldn’t wait to get him up there in high school,” Burt said.
“He coached Da’Shun hard. He did. I think he saw the same things we all saw in him and he knew he had a chance to be special.”
As Berry leads Houlka into the playoffs, he keeps in mind the words his former coach told him.
“He always told me know matter what wherever I go, he’ll always be with me. NBA, college, wherever. He’ll be with me. Right beside me.”
Berry takes everything he’s learned to the hardwood Thursday as Houlka opens district tournament play against Okolona.