- Faith & Family
The Carol City Chiefs boys’ basketball team say they’re taking no prisoners this season. Their only goal is to capture the district champion title — a feat that eluded them in recent years despite commendable records. For example, Carol City has lost only 10 games since 2010. They fared well in the 2011-2012 season with a 14-5 record at the hands of former standout DeAndre Barrett and look even better and more balanced this year.
“We’re playing more as a team this year,” said senior point guard Devonte McKennie. “Last year we depended on one player.”
So far the Chiefs, who had lost three games by this time last season, have won 11 of their first 12 games.
They were counted out early after Barrett graduated, who averaged more than 30 points per game last season. However, this year’s team has been rejuvenated by McKennie, Rashad Thompkins and a host of sophomores. McKennie is an all-around spark averaging 13 points, six assists per game and four steals and rebounds per game. He is backed by senior Center Rashad Thompkins, the team’s leading scorer. Thompkins who is nearly averaging a double-double (14 points per game, 9.7 rebounds per game) has made a significant impact in his first year after transferring from Miami High.
“I feel comfortable here; I’m a leader,” said Thompkins, whose family all graduated from Carol City. “I feel at home.”
Carol City’s potency has also come at the hands of several talented sophomores including starting guard Marquill Smith who averages 10 points per game and three steals.
Carol City runs a lethal spread offense that plays havoc for isolation defenses because of each player’s ability to score. The Chiefs are averaging 69 points per game this season, which head coach Barry Robinson, in his 17th season at Carol City, said is due to his players’ impeccable shot selection.
“No one is selfish,” Robinson said.
“I score when it’s time to score and I pass when it’s time to pass,” McKennie said. “I just go with the flow.”
Balance is the key for the Chiefs because their length makes them lethal on defense as well.
“I’d like to see more of a defensive effort,” Robinson said. “Because we’re so long we make up for a lot of things, but once they start to defend a lot harder we will be better.”
The Chiefs average 15 steals-per-game and have been beaten opponents by an average of 19 points.
Carol City’s only loss came from reigning Class 8A state champion Hialeah Gardens.
“[We] let one person beat our team,” McKennie said.
Even in losing, Robinson said that he took a valuable lesson away from the game.
“As bad as we played we were still in it,” Robinson said of his team’s 18-turnover performance. The Chiefs also missed 15 free throws. “These are things you can fix so I was happy about that.”
Robinson boasts about his team’s unity and camaraderie and keeps the motto simple.
“Play hard, play smart, play together,” he said.
It looks like the Chiefs have gotten the message.
By Akilah Laster