By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– 2019 West Salem-grad Maddie Berstch finished off her Junior College Women’s Basketball career strongly with her second-straight NWAC Southern Region All-Defensive Team.
Her game definitely has changed since her days playing with the Titans, it took an adjustment period for her to adjust to the high expectations with Lane Community College, but her playing background had helped a bit when she entered college.
“Coming from West I was lucky to have always played such competitive basketball. Growing up I got to play against the best competition in the state and I think that really prepared me for playing at a higher level,” Berstch said. “It was a bit of an adjustment getting used to such high expectations, it took me a little while to buy into the culture and tradition.”
Berstch was Co-Player of the year her senior year at West Salem in 2019, sharing the honor with 2021 South Salem-grad and Lipscomb freshman Hilary James. Coming into college that Fall after graduation, Berstch didn’t have many expectations.
She just wanted to go out and have fun. But what came out of it was a defensive mindset that had helped her become one of the key defenders for her collegiate Titan team.
“My game definitely changed at lane, I didn’t have many expectations for myself coming in, I just wanted to have fun. It kind of just happened,” Bertsch starts. “My freshmen year all we did was practice defense. My coaches main focus was on the defensive end, day in and out.
“My assistant coach Sarah Whitfield hounded me every day to jump to the ball, and never stop moving, I learned it all from her. Defense is more of a mindset though and it takes passion, increasing my abilities on defense made my love for the game grow immensely over the last three years. It’s been really fun having my coaches trust on both ends of the floor, every game I got to guard our opponent’s best player. It gave me a lot of confidence.”
This past season saw Bertsch play and start in all 29 games for Lane, who went 28-1 and reached the NWAC Championships Final Four this season before falling to Lower Columbia on March 26. All while averaging 10.3 points a game, 3.5 rebounds a game (2.3 a game defensively), and averaged 1.4 steals and 0.8 blocks a game as a third-year sophomore.
In her three years at Lane Bertsch played in 72 games, starting 54 of them as the Titans went 64-8 over that span. The Titan sophomore and West Salem-Grad averaged 8.4 points, three rebounds, 1.3 steals and 0.6 steals a game. Not to mention the 2.2 assist a game Bertsch had over the course of her collegiate career.
As for the back-to-back NWAC South Region All-Defensive Team honors, it’s a nice gesture to be recognized with how much work her and her teammates put in the past few years,
“It’s obviously nice to get recognition, my team has worked so hard the last 2/3 years. Although I do think some of my teammates deserved a little more recognition then they got this year,” Bertsch said.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald