If you weren’t paying attention, it was hardly a blip on the radar screen last week.
When the Miami Springs Senior High School girls basketball team traveled to Carol City High School to take on the Chiefs in a District 15-6A semifinal contest, nobody paid much attention. When the Hawks actually knocked off Carol City 38-28 to earn themselves a spot in the district championship game against Norland two nights later and thus guarantee themselves a spot in this week’s regional playoffs, there wasn’t much fanfare, either.
For everyone except me.
That’s because I suddenly realized that since I had been covering sports at this school since 1988, I was pretty sure I had never witnessed the Springs girls basketball team even compete in a district championship game and thus never qualified for a regional playoff game.
Never miss a local story.
So when I dove into the FHSAA state record books, sure enough, there it was.
The last time Miami Springs girls basketball showed up in the record books? Try 1978 on for size.
That’s right, folks, the MSSH girls hoopsters broke down the doors of history last week with that win over Carol City, capping off an outstanding job by first-year head coach Marvin Bradley and his assistant Enrique Valencia.
Bradley has been a PE teacher and girls basketball coach at Miami Springs Middle School for the last decade and his hiring last summer cleared the path to create a nice talent pipeline from the middle school to the high school.
And with that, players like Jazmen Harrell, Catrice Jones and Lisa Harrell (no relation) stepped up and spent the last few months putting something really special together as the Hawks went 11-5 and finished as the No. 2 seed in their district.
The Norland game last week? Forget about it. Led by Coach Carla Harris, the Vikings have multiple state championship banners hanging in their gym and it showed as they clobbered Springs for the third time this season, a 58-15 final this time around.
But that result was inconsequential because for the first time since Jimmy Carter was president, gas was 63 cents a gallon and the price of a stamp was 13 cents (I love doing the old-time capsule thing), the regional playoff brackets included Miami Springs.
And, in fact, led by perhaps the best female basketball player to ever come out of Springs High, Regina Gray and Coach Marion Norris, Springs advanced all the way to the state championship game that year in Winter Park before dropping a 59-50 decision to Orlando Boone in the final.
Bradley said a bad loss to Norland during the regular season may have been the turning point for his girls.
“We took a lopsided against Norland midway through the season and some words were said by the opposition that the girls felt were a little disrespectful,” said Bradley. “I think they took it to heart and I think it motivated them. I think that’s where things really changed. I don’t think there was much respect for this program from a lot of teams but I think that’s starting to change.”
Bradley said the key to getting the girls to buy into what he was selling was trying to sell them all about having fun.
“It’s been kind of interesting and it was a little tricky at the start,” said Bradley. “Different attitudes and things but as things progressed and moved on, things got better. You try and teach the girls about staying focused but having fun at the same time. You have to make them feel like they’re having fun. We still have a lot ahead of us that we want to accomplish but I can see them progressing as a team.”
The Hawks will travel this Thursday, Feb. 5 to take on District 16-6A champion Doral Academy over at Doral at 7 p.m. in a regional quarterfinal contest. Should Springs win, the Hawks will again have to deal with Norland in the regional semis and likely go no further than that.
But, like we said, who cares. A team that has already broken down all kinds of barriers this season has nothing else to lose at this point.