Some of Jake Bertemes’ earliest memories revolve around basketball. He recalls being impressed by a carpeted locker room at a regional tournament game — maybe at Miami University’s Millett Hall in 2002 — when his dad was the coach at Cedarville High School.
P.J. Bertemes may have put a ball in Jake’s hands when Jake was a toddler, but Jake jokes, “He was the one to take it from me because I was dribbling while he was talking.”
All these years later, Jake dribbles on the same court where his dad played. P.J. is a 1992 Wittenberg graduate. Jake will graduate in the spring with a degree in physics and a spot in the Wittenberg record book as one of the best players from Clark County t0 play for the Tigers. He was Clark County’s Mr. Basketball in 2016.
Jake has 961 points in his career and should join teammate Connor Seipel (1,351) in the 1,000-point club before this season ends. The fifth-ranked Tigers (20-1, 13-1) take a six-game winning streak into a 7:30 p.m. Wednesday game at Ohio Wesleyan.
After playing limited minutes in nine games as a freshman, Bertemes earned a starting role as a sophomore, and Wittenberg is 71-10 the last three seasons.
“You come to college, and everyone talks about wanting to win the national championship,” Bertemes said, “and that’s still the goal. But then reality sets in freshman year and you don’t get much playing time. It was a good team but not anywhere near what it’s been. Sophomore year was just awesome, and it reminded me of why I play this game and why I want to keep playing this game. It’s really shaped up to be something I probably didn’t expect, but I’ve really enjoyed it.”
» WITT FEATURE: Seipel one of best big men in school history
Bertemes ranks third on the team behind Seipel (15.4 points per game) and James Johnson (14.0) with 12.8 points per game. He’s shooting 51.2 percent from the field, second among the starters behindSeipel (67.5). He leads the team with 3.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
Croci and two other senior starters, Seipel and Jordan Pumroy (6.4 points per game), were part of Croci’s first recruiting class in 2016.
“He has just worked and worked hard and committed himself,” said Wittenberg coach Matt Croci, who was a teammate of P.J. Bertemes at Wittenberg. “He was willing to accept us moving him off the ball as a freshman. He came in as a point guard but a scoring one. We always felt he’d be better just being a scorer. He accepted that and trusted it. He has done this on his own. Everything he’s getting right now he’s earned through hard work.”
Bertemes has not written the final line of his Wittenberg story, but he’ll be long remembered for his last-second, game-winning shot against Capital in the third game of the 2017-18 season and then two big shots against Wooster in the North Coast Athletic Conference championship game in 2018.
“He just makes some plays our guys shake our heads at,” Croci said. “We’re really glad he’s on our team.”
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