Christopher’s rollercoaster ride career nearing an end


Carrollton girls’ basketball coach Debbie Christopher has seen elite-level sports up close and very personal — her daughter, Ali Krieger, helped the United States women’s soccer team win the 2011 World Cup in Germany.

Christopher, though, also has seen clubs struggle, which is the case with her team’s current season. Carrollton is 0-12, but there are extenuating circumstances.

“I took over the team two weeks before the start of the season when our athletic director couldn’t find anyone else,” said Christopher, who raised her kids in Virginia until remarrying and moving to Florida. “We lost four starters from the year before and are very inexperienced. We have four freshmen and just one senior.”

Christopher, who is in her 34th year of teaching, thought she had retired from coaching until she was convinced to come back. But she said this will surely be her last season.

Krieger, meanwhile, is still going strong. The 28-year-old defender missed the 2012 Olympics because of a knee injury but is back playing pro ball for the Washington Spirit.

She also had the decisive penalty kick to beat Brazil in the quarterfinals of the 2011 World Cup, and Christopher was there as a witness.

“That was a thrill,” Christopher said. “You wait your whole life to see something that special.”

Palmer on the rise

This could be a big season for Palmer Trinity (19-4, 6-0 District 16-3A), which is led by 5-9 freshman forward Kyrah James.

Coach James Valle thinks James could emerge as one of the top players in the state by the time she’s a senior. She is averaging 11.6 points and already owns the school’s single-game rebounding record with 19.

“She’s the best shooter and most athletic player we’ve ever had here,” Valle said.

Teammate Stephane Granada, a 5-4 senior guard, leads the team in scoring at 12.7 points per game. She averaged 17 points last season and made first-team All-Dade, but is part of a more balanced team this time around.

If favorites advance, Palmer could face a visit from unbeaten Miami Country Day in the regional semifinals — and that could be bad news for the Falcons.

Three times in the past five years, Miami Country Day has ended Palmer Trinity’s season. And Miami Country Day (22-0) beat Palmer 68-54 on Saturday, forcing 25 turnovers.

“[Miami Country Day is] undefeated for a reason, and they’re very athletic,” said Valle, in his seventh season as Palmer’s coach. “But they are not unbeatable.”

This and that

• Coach Robyn Malek said this season’s edition of Hebrew Academy (12-0, 8-0 District 14-2A) is the best in school history. Senior guard Bari Gordon, a starter since her eighth-grade season, is averaging 22 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Gordon, who is within 40 points of breaking Malek’s school career scoring record, will attend Penn but not to play basketball.

Gordon comes from a basketball family. Her brother Zach, a 6-6 forward, played at Penn, mostly as a reserve. Her father, Lawrence, also played in the Ivy League at Columbia.

• Hialeah sophomore forward Adriana Charles has made a strong comeback from an ACL injury that kept her out her freshman year. Coach Denoff Johnson said Charles, who is averaging 12 points, is his best three-point shooter (she had five in one game).

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

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