At 6-3 and 220 pounds, Myron Dewar went out for the Coral Springs football team last spring. With that size and his impressive athleticism, coaches must have had dreams of the next “Megatron”.
But Dewar decided football wasn’t his sport.
“I need AC,” said Dewar, an 18-year-old senior who apparently enjoys cool breezes. “I liked football, and I was good, but there’s nothing like basketball.”
Coral Springs coach Devin Barta is glad Dewar has stuck with basketball.
Dewar, who is averaging 29.2 points, has led the Colts to state for the first time in the school’s 41-year history. The program had never won a regional playoff game before 2014, which was Barta’s first season as the coach.
The Colts (20-7) will play Winter Park (21-9) at 4 p.m. Friday in a semifinal. South Miami (23-8) and Sarasota Riverview (30-1) will meet in the other Class 8A semifinal.
But as good as those other contenders are, none has a scorer that is even within six points of Dewar’s average.
Dewar, who is getting interest from Murray State, Bowling Green and Akron, might have already secured a college scholarship had it not been for his academic situation.
When Barta took over as head coach, Dewar had a dismal 1.7 grade-point average. He has since pulled it up to a 2.4 and is working on getting the needed test scores for college.
He has made significant progress, but it hasn’t been easy. Barta said he brought Dewar over to his house, sat him on the computer and made sure he did his homework.
In addition, there were study halls.
“I couldn’t talk to no girls,” Dewar said.
Barta’s no-nonsense approach worked, and it has paid dividends for the basketball team, which rallied from a 16-point, third-quarter deficit to knock off defending state champion Wellington last week in an 85-79 double-overtime win.
Dewar played all 40 minutes and scored 40 points. Coral Springs’ third-leading scorer, 6-7 senior forward Jonado Fils, fouled out in the fourth quarter, but the Colts kept coming. Dewar scored 29 points after halftime.
“Wellington hadn’t lost a home game in two years, and we didn’t look like we belonged on the same court with them early on,” Barta said. “But down the stretch, Myron didn’t let us lose.”
The Colts, though, are more than just Dewar. They have 10 seniors, including all five starters. All 10 of those players have been in the program since Barta arrived, and many have made huge strides.
Case in point is 6-4 forward Trevon White, the team’s second-leading scorer (17.7). White was on the junior varsity as a sophomore and rode the bench as a junior.
He thought about transferring, but stuck it out.
“I went to [the gym] every day in the summer, worked hard, and now here I am starting,” White said. “I’m more confident now.”
Fils, who averages 14.0 points and 11.1 rebounds, White and Dewar will be the key figures to try to knock off a Winter Park team that has won three state titles - 2010, 2011 and 2014.
The 2010 team, which knocked off Boyd Anderson in the state semifinal, and the 2011 team, which eliminated Columbus in that same round, was led by guard Austin Rivers, who is now in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers.
This Winter Park team is not nearly as acclaimed, but the Wildcats are two inches taller than Coral Springs at every position. In addition, Winter Park has two Division I basketball prospects and three kids who could play college football, including the team’s quarterback and running back.
In other words, Winter Park is tall, athletic and physical, and the Colts will need to match them in every way.
Not that the Colts are scared.
“We’ve faced other big teams like Dillard,” White said. “We made them run and play our style of game.”
If the Colts were to get two wins this week, it would conclude an amazing journey for not just the players but also for Barta, who was a 6-1 point guard for Coral Springs not too long ago.
Barta, 30, has already been coaching 10 years. He served five years as the Coral Springs JV coach and two years as the head coach at Delray American Heritage before returning to his alma mater.
He has turned things around by convincing the good players at the school that they should stay rather than transfer to private programs as had been happening.
Barta has also employed a frenetic style.
“We apply relentless full-court defensive pressure,” he said. “And even after a made basket, we try to rip it out of the net and go.”
The comeback win over Wellington didn’t happen because of one halftime speech.
“It was three years of demanding that they will not quit on me,” Barta said. “You have to have good players to win. But I require that they give me every ounce of what they have.”