Little boys play big in Comets tournament
By St. Clair Murraine
One answered to nickname “Smokes,” as in being able to move so fast on the basketball court that his blazing sneakers cause smoke in the opponents’ face.
Another one answers to “Too smooth.”
The sixth and seventh-grade boys on the floor during the opening round of play in the Comets’ Round Robin Basketball tournament were all that their nicknames imply.
They drove the lane with speed reminiscent of players at a higher level. Fancy assistances were common. And, of course, the three-pointer was very much in play during the game between the Comets’ sixth-graders and a similar squad from Quincy that goes by the name Show-Off.
When it was over the Comets proved too much for Show-Off, winning 64-22 to advance to the championship game.
The tournament was a first-time outing this season for most of the teams that played either at FAMU High’s gymnasium or in the Tooks Center on FAMU’s campus.
During the sixth-graders game, Comets coach Shareed Ross coached while seated on the sidelines. None of his team’s execution surprised him, despite being its first game, Ross said.
“This is what we do in practice so I try to get them to the point where everything we do in practice is going to be a game situation,” he said. “When the games come along it’s no big deal.”
Ross’s team has four new players, but as the game progress their synchronicity belied the short time they’ve played as a unit. The early stalls were due to the nerves of getting on the floor for the first time, said Deon Bowie, who plays small forward.
But he insisted that the win wasn’t as easy as it appeared.
“It’s hard work to win games,” he said.
In a game between seventh-graders that took place simultaneously on a nearby court, that group of Comets had a tougher contest. That also was a matchup with Show-Off.
Despite his team holding a commanding lead on the way to winning by 40 points, coach Terry Arnold didn’t let up on getting the best out of his players.
“I coach regardless,” he said. “I see the mistakes they make. That’s a time when we try to work on our plays and try to run stuff through; the fundamentals of the game.”
As young as his players are – most of them 12 years old – Arnold said they are taking in every bit of the coaching he and his assistant Carlos Conyers pass on.
“We try to teach where you should be (and) how you should be playing a man. That kind of thing.”
While the win was huge, it was an opportunity to put in play principles that aren’t exhibited on the floor, said Deon Conyers, Carlos’s son.
“It taught me not to showboat and go crazy because we win,” he said. “I discipline myself to be a great person.”