Krop coach like dad to team


Last week’s best performances 


Sunset’s boys’ soccer team secured its first GMAC title since 2005 with a 3-2 double-overtime win against Varela. Eddy Pineiro scored the game-winner in the 96th minute and had an assist for the Knights, who also beat North Miami and Reagan earlier in the tournament. … The South Dade wrestling team won its third consecutive GMAC title, edging Columbus by 21 points. Justin Ramirez was the Bucs’ lone champion at 126 pounds.


Antonio Ralat, Gulliver, boys’ basketball: Ralat had 61 points, 12 assists, 14 rebounds and 13 steals in three games vs. Key West, Coral Shores and Tampa Berkley Prep.

Jonathan Spicer, American, boys’ basketball: Spicer had 17 points to lead the Patriots to a 53-52 win over defending Class 8A state champion Hialeah Gardens.

D’Ajahnae Smith, American, girls’ basketball: Smith averaged 16.7 points, 14.3 rebounds and 2.7 steals in three victories over North Miami Beach, Hialeah and Cardinal Gibbons as the Patriots qualified for the GMAC tournament for the first time since 2000.

Danielle Minott, Miami Country Day, girls’ basketball: Minott had 28 points to keep the Spartans unbeaten with a 68-54 win over Palmer Trinity.

Sebastian Herran, Varela, boys’ soccer: Herran scored both goals in the GMAC final for the Vipers, who played in the championship match for the first time since 2008.

Elexus Martin, Mater Academy, girls’ soccer: Martin scored the game-winning goal in the 71st minute to lift the Lions to a 2-1 District 16-4A clinching win over Miami Springs.

Laurel Ivory, Miami Country Day, girls’ soccer: Ivory, a seventh-grader, scored the game-tying goal and saved a pair of penalty kicks to lead the Spartans to a comeback win against Dade Christian and the District 15-1A title.


Special to The Miami Herald

When Krop girls’ basketball standout Nkiru Anyagaligbo was recently stranded by a flat tire, she called her coach. Less than an hour later, Ray Thompson was there, at her service.

Such is the life of a coach, but Thompson’s mission that day was far from an isolated example of kindness.

According to his players, Thompson, 48, always has his players’ best interests at heart. His ability to relate to them helps explain how Krop (16-3, 12-0) leads District 13-8A despite losing three key transfers after last season. The Lightning will face Jackson in Tuesday’s GMAC quarterfinals.

Ieshia Small, whom Thompson called a “once-in-a-lifetime” player, was the biggest loss, yet she transferred with his blessing.

Small, ranked by ESPN as the 19th best senior prospect in the nation and No. 3 in the state, was orphaned when her mother, Michelle Robinson, died of a heart attack on March 1, 2011.

After staying at a foster-care facility in Miami that Small compared to a jail, she and her younger brother were invited to live in Tallahassee with the family of her AAU coach, Kimberly Davis Powell.

“Her transfer wasn’t about basketball to me,” said Thompson, who is in his 13th season as Krop’s coach. “It was about being able to go home to a family.”

Small, who was recently adopted by Powell, said Thompson was the only one at Krop who “totally supported my decision.”

The other two transfers who bolted Krop after last season were Brandi Harrington, who made first-team All-Dade in 2012, and Maika’la McCloud. Both transferred to Miami Pace.

Had all three remained, Krop likely would have been the favorite to win an 8A state title, going one step further than last year when it made the final for the first time in school history before losing to Orlando’s Dr. Phillips 72-50.

But Thompson, a former football and track standout at South Miami High and Division III Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio, didn’t pout over what might have been.

“I would give away a championship any day to see a kid get a college education,” he said. “I like to win, but there are more important things. If you do things right, it will pay off in the long run.”

Perhaps that’s what’s happening this season.

Anyagaligbo, a 6-0 senior wing who signed with Boston University with the hopes of one day becoming a neurosurgeon, leads the team in scoring with 15 points per game.

Her sister, Ogechi, is a 6-0 sophomore post who is averaging 11 points. And the supporting cast includes three more sophomores — Jasmine Albert, Kenova Gay and Isis Julmiste — along with junior Briana Upshur and senior Angelica Hines, a transfer from Georgia.

It’s a good group, but Lourdes and Miami High are the top 8A teams in the city, according to Thompson.

The Lightning has yet to play Miami High.

In a loss to Lourdes, Krop was without an injured Ogechi, and Nkiru played little because of foul trouble.

Ironically, Krop has a better record than Pace, which took in two of Thompson’s top players.

Of those two transfers, Thompson was most hurt by the loss of Harrington, who had been with his program longer. In fact, Harrington had never played organized basketball before coming to Krop as a freshman.

Thompson built a special bond with the point guard, helping her develop into the player who recently signed to play for Southern Illinois University.

Harrington said she has raised her grade-point average from a 2.34 at Krop to a 2.8 at Pace. But she also said she misses Krop and still talks to Thompson a couple of times a month.

“I feel like we should have stayed together,” Harrington said of the three kids who transferred. “We could have gone to state. I do miss my team ... [Thompson] is like a father to me. He pushed me to be the person I am going to be, on the court and off.”


•  Late Saturday — MLK Basketball Tournament in Key West — Champagnat 87, Pace 77 - CH: Holanda 8, Chapotin 1, Collie 2, Leadon 23, Domingues 18, Mackey 7, LaBranche 25, Nairm 3. MP: Thomas 4, Norvius 3, Justinien 27, Weite 6, Logan 6, Wilson 3, S. Jean, 3, Ogugua 2, Duarte 17, A. Jean 2. Rebounds: LaBranche 7, Holanda 6, Domingues 5. Assists: Holanda 6, Nairm 5, Leadon 5. CH: 14-4.

•  Late Friday — MLK Basketball Tournament in Key West. — Champagnat Catholic 60, Key West 43 - CH: Holanda 6, Chapotin 4, Collie 2, Leadon 15, Domingues 13, Mackey 4, LaBranche 14, Nairm 2. KW: Acosta 7, Scott 14, Thompson 10, German 2, Valdes 8. Rebounds: Domingues 10, LaBranche 9. Assists: Leadon 7, Chapotin 5. CH 13-4.

•  Late Friday — St. Brendan 71, Ronald Reagan 49 - SB (8-13): Ruiz 4, Dominguez 16, Claro 1, Harduval 8, G. Garcia 4, R. Diaz 3, Fenelon 6, Suarez 2, Molivar 21, Sanchez 2, Calderine 3. RR: Ortega 3, Allrich 8, Dacunha 25, Prada 2, Humphries 5, Sarmiento 3. Halftime: SB 29-20. Rebounds: Suarez .7



GMAC quarterfinals: Krop vs. Jackson (Miami High), 6; American at Miami High, 7:30; Norland at Coral Reef, 7; Northwestern at South Miami, 7


District 14-5A semifinals at Milander: Miami Beach vs. Reagan, 4; Miami High vs. North Miami, 6

District 15-5A semifinals at Tropical Park: Columbus vs. Coral Park, 3; Ferguson vs. Coral Gables, 5

District 16-3A quarterfinals at North Miami Stadium: Pembroke Pines Charter vs. Hallandale, 5; Pompano Beach vs. Mourning, 7.

Read more Miami-Dade High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

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