Tornadoes show improvement on court

Posted on 18 January 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

The first thing on Pompano Beach High School boys’ basketball coach James Stone’s bucket list was to win a game.

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The Tornadoes were coming off an 0-21 (2016-17) season and lost the final game in the 2015-16 season when they finished 5-16. Pompano Beach dropped their first eight games of the 2017-18 campaign before a 72-65 victory against host Plantation on Dec. 14 snapped a 30-game losing streak. The team was 5-16 and 4-16 the two years prior to that.

My biggest priority was to get a win after they went 0-21 last year,” said Stone, who moved up from the junior varsity team after a year with the Tornadoes and a year at Coral Springs Charter School. It is his first varsity head coaching job.

I told them to act like we won before (after beating Plantation) so we got on the bus and we had one guy, Conrad (Bennett), he’s a sophomore so he was about to cry,” Stone said. “He was on the team last year and he said, ‘coach that was my first win as a Pompano basketball player.’ It was a big moment for me to get him his first win.”

Pompano Beach (4-9) defeated a team from Australia in the Deerfield Beach Holiday Tournament in an exhibition game and that has sparked the team to back-to-back wins over Cardinal Gibbons (60-56) and Coconut Creek (57-55). Pompano Beach travels to play at Hallandale on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

That was a big tournament for us because last year they didn’t win a game,” Stone said. “This was a good confidence builder for them this year. It was a great experience for us to play against a team from Australia.”

Stone said he has a junior oriented team, with eight juniors and three seniors. Senior Andre Francis leads the team with 16 points and 10 rebounds a game and Stone also said he’s received solid play from the following juniors — Cedric Camper, Braxton McMillon, Takobe Clark, Brandon Peets and Tristen Anderson.

Stone said the team is buying into his philosophy.

They keep their composure,” Stone said. “They are a very composed group of guys. They don’t get rattled when they go down.”

There has been little adjustment in becoming head coach.

There really hasn’t been too much of an adjustment since most of these guys came up with me from the JV,” Stone said. “The transitions are easy since they already knew the system. The ones who played on the varsity last year, those are the ones that had to buy into the system.”

Knowing that all but three players will return next year has Stone excited.

Having the core coming back is great,” Stone said. “I wanted this to be a building year and next year I would have had my guys together for three years, so next year I am looking to turn it around. I want to go far in the district and make the (BCAA) Big 8 tournament.

They can be a great team,” Stone continued. “Sometimes they get into the ‘I’ basketball and they want to be the guy to carry the team and I tell them it is a team sport. If I can get them to focus on team and play hard and fight for all 32 minutes, we’ll be alright.”

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