By Gary Curreri
What started out as a promising season for the Deerfield Beach High School girls basketball team could have turned sour following an injury to a key player.
Sophomore 5-ft., 6-in. shooting guard DenAsia Mitchell came down wrong on her knee during practice last week and Bucks coach Portia Williams fears the worst.
The Bucks got out of the gate at 14-2 with losses coming to Flanagan, 38-31, and South Broward, 56-44, and owned a 65-57 victory over district rival Douglas. The team also won all three of their games in a tournament in Atlanta.
After opening its own Deerfield Blitz Holiday tournament with wins over Piper and Cooper City, disaster struck in the practice leading up to the title game against Douglas.
“At this time we don’t know,” Williams said. “It was just a freak accident at practice. She was going up for a loose ball and just came down wrong on it. She has to get some tests run. She is getting an MRI (this week).
“We have the capabilities and that shouldn’t have stopped us from what we need to do,” Williams said after the Eagles (18-1) jumped out to a 30-10 halftime lead and coasted to a 63-42 victory over the host Bucks in the championship game.
“We have to regroup and go over some things that were a problem.”
Williams said the team needed to do several things better, including rebounding, boxing out better on defense and running their offense. It hurt not having Mitchell, who was averaging nearly 20 points per game. The team also gave up a lot of baskets on fast breaks and in transition and allowed 22 offensive rebounds to Douglas.
“We knew she was out, but we didn’t execute,” Williams said. “We didn’t come out to play and that was the bottom line. We talked to the girls and told them we have to get back to the basics and regroup from there.
“We have to get ready for the second half of the season,” added Williams, who has been coaching for nearly two decades at Deerfield Beach. “We have some things to fix and we have to continue to work hard.”
Williams said the team is more of a family this year and has survived the “tough times.”
“We may get down on one another, but then we pick each other up,” she said. “I think there are some things that we can do. Even though it is a Christmas tournament, we did well on the road in Atlanta, and now we just have to regroup.”
Williams wasn’t surprised with the start to the season and also cited sophomore guard Kayla Burrows and senior guard G’Torria Swinton for their play this season.
“We saw them play really well at a camp this summer and they haven’t played their best yet this season,” Williams said. “We have to learn to stay focused. Some of them still have maturity problems, and we need to be able to take toughness and that will have to start with our seniors.”