Without too much fanfare, the Miami Springs High School boys basketball team has gone about its business quite effectively all season.
As a matter of fact, real effectively.
The case in point came last week when the Hawks, for only the fourth time all season, actually played a game in their own gym and took care of Mourning High School, 58-43. The win not only was their ninth straight to move their record to 15-8 but also clinched the No. 2 seed in their district behind top-seeded and defending state champion Norland.
“It’s been a real roller-coaster ride but now we’re peaking at just the right time,” said head coach Delmar Wilson, now completing his fifth year at the controls of the boys hoops program. “We got off to a fast start but then ran into a real midseason slump ,including a couple of lopsided losses to Norland. But the kids have done a great job of staying the course, believing what we’re teaching and now they’re seeing all of that pay off.”
There seems to be a consensus among both Wilson and his players that the turning point was the New Year’s Classic Holiday Tournament at Miami Central High School where they defeated, on consecutive nights, South Dade (quarterfinals), Pembroke Pines Somerset Academy (semifinals) and Doral Academy in the title game to win the tournament. The Hawks haven’t lost or looked back since.
“I actually think things started to turn a few days before that up in Stuart at the Martin County Holiday Tournament,” said Wilson. “Even though we lost in the semfinals (to Fort Pierce Central), the kids wanted to stay that night for the championship game.”
Playing Fort Pierce Central was nationally ranked Clark High School out of Athens, Ga.
“They watched that game and got a good look at what ‘big-time’ basketball and intensity is all about,” said Wilson. “Sure enough, we came back to Miami, won the New Year’s tournament and off we went.”
“Yeah, I think it was just a matter of time before we really started getting it together and playing as a team and winning that tournament at Central really boosted our confidence,” said senior Victor Troya, who is the leading scorer on the team at nearly 17 points per game and led all scorers in the Mourning game with 14. “Now we’ve learned to play unselfish basketball, are trusting each other and taking smart shots.”
Another obstacle Troya and the Hawks have had to overcome this year has been having to playing most of their games away. Due to budget contraints, Wilson was restricted to booking just four home games last spring when he put the schedule together.
“It was like, ‘Whatever, we’ll deal with it,’ at first but I actually think that it’s turned out to help us,” said Troya. “There’s something about bonding as a team when you play on the road all the time and now since we’re going to play away in districts and regionals, we’ll be more accustomed to it.”
Troya — along with teammates Phillip Alfonso, Sebastian Alderette and Jesus Alfonso, who finished with 12, 11, and 11 points, respectively, against Mourning — can only hope that the momentum they’ve built will keep going.
A year ago the Hawks, by knocking off Coral Gables in the district semifinals, made their first regional playoff appearance in six years and this year will be looking to make it two straight.
After not qualifying for this week’s GMAC tournament, the Hawks have the week off before they get ready for their big district semifinal playoff game against No. 3-seeded Carol City next Tuesday, Feb. 4 in Norland’s gym.
A Springs victory would put the Hawks into the Feb. 7 district championship matchup likely against the top-seeded Vikings, who should have no trouble with No. 4 seed Mourning in their semfinal. And that would mean a regional quarterfinal playoff berth for the second straight year (both district final participants advance to regionals regardless of who wins).