Blackburn gets personal best discus throw, aiming higher

Posted on 19 April 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Pompano Beach’s Sydney Blackburn keeps her goals close.

The talented Highlands Christian Academy sophomore track star recently accomplished one of those goals as she threw 151.02 ft. in the discus and won the District 13-1A title.

Her throw is the second best in the state behind Hallandale High School senior Amani Heaven’s 161.50 ft. throw at the Pepsi Florida Relays. Blackburn’s throw is also the 18th best in the country.

That felt really good because there were a lot of people from school there,” said Blackburn, who also won the shot put event that day with a throw of 37.10 ft.“The athletic director was there; the headmaster was there and so was my teammates.”

Blackburn said she sometimes feels pressure because she shoulders the load for her team.

I just know that I am one of the captains, so if I am having a bad day, it will affect the others on my team,” she said. “It helps me know that my team is depending on me, so it helps me calm down. The competition I have now is not as good as my summer track.”

She finished fourth at the state meet last year in the shotput with a throw of 36.1 ft. but scratched on all three attempts in the discus.

My throw would have been the winning throw at states,” said Blackburn, who was 9th in the state in the shotput in her 8th-grade year and was 14th in the state in the discus event that year. “They said I walked out of the circle wrong and didn’t count my throws. It was disappointing, but it really motivated me this year.

I want to get 155 ft. in regionals and hopefully 160 at state,” said Blackburn, who placed 4th in the National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas with a throw of 144.75 ft. last July. It was her previous best throw until the district competition last week. Blackburn competes for Broward Elite Track Club out of Pine Crest in Ft. Lauderdale during the summer.

The regional competition is Wednesday at Calvary Christian in Ft. Lauderdale.

Blackburn, 16, is a sophomore and has spent 10 years at the school.

It is a small school, but I enjoy going there,” Blackburn said. “With public schools, you get to experience more, but in my district there is very good competition.”

I like to keep my goals close,” Blackburn said. “My goal is to get into the high 170s by the time I finish high school. My highest last year was in the 130s, so I am improving each year.”

Blackburn is highly thought of by Highlands track coach Brenda King.

Sydney is our most valuable track member not just because of her points but she is our heart beat,” King said. “She is a fun loving young lady who does not mind working hard at athletics or academics.

Most importantly, Sydney, her family and me are all humbled to enjoy this great ride of her success through hard work.

Sydney has always desired to go to college and participate in a sport,” added King, who said that Blackburn has drawn interest from the University of Miami and University of Virginia as well as Butler. “Now, track has made it more real for her. Sydney has special God given talents and she must be treated in that manner. She reminds daily of why I love to coach.”

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Snell continues training in Australia

Posted on 03 April 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Pompano Beach’s Shannon Snell is doing quite well down underafter competing in the 2018 Queensland Surf Life Saving Senior State Championships in Maroochydore, Australia.

The 20-year-old Snell, a 2016 graduate of Cardinal Gibbons High School, recently placed fifth in the Open Women Beach Flags Final and seventh in the Open Women Beach Sprint despite a tight quad muscle. She was representing the Kurrawa Surf Life Saving Club.

Snell, who represented the U.S.A. Open Team in the DHL International Surf Rescue Challenge in New Zealand that was held from Nov. 30-Dec. 4, extended her stay in Australia to become even more proficient in her lifesaving skills.

I’m currently in Australia training in the surf-lifesaving sport,” said Snell, who placed second in the sprint and fourth in the surf ski events during the DHL in Mount Monguani, New Zealand.

Since they are 50 years ahead of the U.S.A., there are actually clubs to train with that you can get the proper technique and training sessions to excel when racing internationally and for the U.S.A. (United States Lifesaving Association) Nationals. I was beyond thrilled to be selected for the U.S.A. team.”

The DHL challenge has been held since 1999 and attracted seven countries from around the world to compete head-to-head in New Zealand for the title of International Surf Rescue Champions. Snell helped the United States finish third in the competition.

Snell has been pleased with her progress so far. In January, she also took second in the Open Beach Sprint Final at Ocean 6 Series and ninth place in Open Women Beach Flags Final in North Cronulla Beach.

To be able to race with the top athletes in the U.S.A. is always a very humbling feeling and knowing that the work you put in doesn’t go without being noticed,” she said. “I was very pleased too to place as well as I did with coming out of our winter training into everyone’s else’s summer since the seasons are different.

The goal for Australia is to learn as much knowledge as I can in this sport and take that home with me and become a better athlete,” Snell continued, “and to help the next generation in the states and in Florida to be able to see the sport continue to grow.”

Snell has been an Ocean lifeguard since 2016 on both the east and west coast of the United States, and, prior to that, was a Pompano Beach Junior lifeguard since the age of 9. During that time, she was selected to represent the United States Youth National Team in France in 2014. She also travelled to Japan and Australia the following two years.

Snell earned her fourth invitation to represent her country based on her performance at the United States Lifesaving Association Nationals in Daytona Beach this past summer.

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Charity beach volleyball event raises $5K

Posted on 29 March 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Ben Koos couldn’t have been happier with the recent charity beach volleyball Pro/Am Tournament on Deerfield Beach.

The Embrace Life Children’s Foundation teamed up with Dig the Beach Volleyball and raised more than $5,000 to go towards helping children in the community and those proceeds went directly to helping the Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital at Broward Health.

The event was a good start to hopefully an annual event,” said Koos, the tournament organizer. “We had over 100 players come out between Saturday and Sunday, which made for great viewing for the fans and a great time for the players.”

The inaugural event featured two days of competition, including Men’s/Women’s Doubles for both professional and amateur players, while Sunday included Junior Boys/Girls 12-18 and Co-Ed Doubles.

Several community sponsors joined in, including Jersey Mike’s Subs and Harmless Harvest Coconut Water, who fed and hydrated the players. Other local businesses supporting the event included Rox Volleyball as a Title Sponsor, Pediatrix, Island Water Sports, Hypower Electric and International Union of Police Associations.

Koos’ wife, Carolyne, who helps run the charity, also deemed the event a success.

We ended up with 100 players, which wasn’t bad for the first time,” she said. “With the funding we received, we have been able to outfit the NICU and Pediatric Unit with some much-needed items on their wish list and also pay for transportation for the sickle cell pediatric patients to Camp Boggy Creek, so those patients can forget their medical issues and just have fun for a bit.

We just had a Spring Fling visit filled with bunnies, chicks, and spring goodie bags and toys for all of the pediatric patients from oncology, peds floor, to PICU and NICU,” she continued. “It is a joy and a blessing to help these families with whatever they need from help with medical bills to fun group outings with patients to shows, or tickets to events, funding for medical research, or day-to-day needs, like clothes, or computers.”

Carolyne Koos said the organization does what they can to try and improve the lifestyle. She and her husband started the non-profit charity organization after their 2-year old son, Christian, passed away recently after a long battle with a rare neurological disease. His genetic disease, known as Leukodystrophy, can affect anyone from a newborn baby to an elderly person.

Whatever makes their life a little easier while they work on getting better, we are happy to do,” said Carolyne, who would bring gifts to the Broward General Medical Center and Miami Children’s Hospital during her son’s stays “just to see a smile on a child’s face.”

Carolyne speaks with the child life advocates at each hospital to find out the needs of the children and to find out how they can help.

As always,” she continued, “being 100 percent volunteer driven with no administration costs or salaries, you can tell our heart is in what we do. It truly is a beautiful gift to be able to work with and help these families…I have to say from my point of view all the players, organizers, promoters and supporters were nothing short of a huge blessing to me and the families.”

For more information, visit www.embracelifechildrensfoundation.com.

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Crystal Lake Golf Club closes

Posted on 22 March 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

After more than a half a century, the Crystal Lake Golf Club in Deerfield Beach has closed.

Many of the golfers sat around the bar on the final day on March 11 and spoke of the memories they had at the course. Several had moved over four years earlier when the nearby Deerfield Country Club closed in 2014.

Lighthouse Point’s Dottie Birney played at the course for five years. The 6,953-yard championship par 72 golf course was built in 1965 and re-designed by Rees Jones in 1981. It was then renovated in 2000.

This place was nice because it was a working man’s golf course,” Birney said. “It is a nice place to meet and have fun with all kinds of people. It was a good golf course, a challenging golf course, and I am going to miss it a whole helluva lot.

The ladies that I play with came here four times a week,” Birney added, “You could come to it, it’s a social place and this was a home away from home. It was a warm nice place. I don’t know where we are going to go now.”

Boca Raton’s John Nixdorf also came over from Deerfield Country Club four years ago. He said they had a regular Saturday group.

It has been a great spot for the Deerfield Country Club crew to get together and play,” Nixdorf said. “They were really accommodating to us on tee times. It is sad that they are closing, and it was crippling that Deerfield [Country Club]closed…we developed a very nice community [about 20 golfers] and had people of all different levels.”

Hillsboro Beach’s Don Forster played three to four times a week at Crystal Lake. The 88-year-old recorded 13 of his 14 hole-in-ones at the Deerfield Country Club before moving over to Crystal Lake.

I was at the Deerfield Country Club for 20 years,” Forster said. “Deerfield felt like a home because everybody knew everybody. I have a lot of fond memories there, but I am sad to see this place close too. All I do is eat, drink and play golf.”

Deerfield Beach city commissioners agreed to allow more than 400 homes to be built on the 109-acre Crystal Lake course in August 2017. A total of 290 houses and 125 townhouses are expected to be built on the parcel.

Storey inducted into FAU Baseball Ring of Honor

Deerfield Beach High School graduate Mickey Storey carved out a nice career with the Bucks before he went on to play at Florida Atlantic University and eventually a professional career.

Storey, who turned 32 on March 16, got an early birthday present just days earlier as he was among five inducted in the Florida Atlantic University Baseball Ring of Honor prior to the start of the Owls’ doubleheader win over Seton Hall at the FAU Baseball Stadium.

Storey (2005-08) was inducted along with four former Owl players, including Hugh Adams (2009-13), Bill Cobe (1981-82), Darryl Powell (1981-82) and his former Owls head coach, Kevin Cooney. Cooney was unable to make the ceremony.

The 2004 graduate of Deerfield Beach High School was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 22nd round of the 2007 MLB Draft but did not sign and was then drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 31st round of the 2008 MLB Draft.

Storey, pitched in the major leagues for Houston and Toronto, making his major-league debut with the Astros in 2012. In January, Storey was named manager of the Houston Astros minor league affiliate – the Class A Quad Cities River Bandits based in Des Moines, Iowa. They play in the Midwest League.

Storey made his coaching debut last season as a development coach with Houston’s Carolina League affiliate, Buies Creek. His assignment with the defending Midwest League champions will be his first as a manager.

Storey lives in Wellington with his wife, Monique and their three children.

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Tigers roar to state championship

Posted on 15 March 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

With as much time as Blanche Ely basketball coach Melvin Randall spends in Lakeland, maybe he should consider getting a condo there.

The Tigers coach led his boys’ basketball team to their fifth title in seven seasons as they cruised past Jacksonville Creekside, 77-54 in the Florida High School Athletic Association’s Class 8A state championship on Saturday night at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.

Randall, who has won a state-record eight basketball championships, six at Blanche Ely and two at neighboring Deerfield Beach, said this championship is even sweeter than when the squad went undefeated in 2015.

There was adversity this time around, dealing with a number of setbacks early in the season — namely an 18-point loss to University School.

We took a couple of beatings along the way, which is okay, but growth came in and helped us to get to where we are now,” said Randall. “We were inconsistent in the beginning of the season because they weren’t used to playing with one another and, as the season went on, they understood how to play with one another.”

Randall is 16-1 in the state final four and 8-0 in championship games.

The Tigers finished the season at 24-8. They had two starters back from last year’s team in Joshua Scott and Michael Forrest.

Scott, a junior forward, led the Tigers with 26 points and six rebounds. He was a perfect 7 of 7 from the field and 12 of 14 from the free-throw line. Forrest, a senior guard, had 21 points and helped Blanche Ely win 13 of their final 14 games of the season. Senior guard Anthony Byrd added 14 points.

It’s been an amazing journey,” said Forrest, who struck from distance with a game-high 4 three-pointers. “We won state my sophomore year and came back to win again this year.

With all the things (Coach Randall) does for us, this the only way we can give back to him – just winning the state championship for him.”

We play for Mr. Randall, and I do what I have to do to win,” said Scott, who also had 26 points in the team’s semifinal win.

Added Forrest: “Last year was very disappointing. I really wanted to win two in a row and get that third ring, so I think it motivated us this year.

I thought we would go pretty far this year,” Forrest said. “The intensity was better this year. I think we really played better defense too.

Forrest said going into his senior year was both “fun, but kind of scary too.”

I wanted to go out winning a state tournament,” Forrest said. “(This journey) has been a lot of hard work. A lot of long hours, just being in the gym with Mr. Randall and the other coaches who have helped me become who I am today.”

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Bucks win regional semifinal

Posted on 01 March 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Deerfield Beach High School boys’ basketball coach Kenny Brown switched his team to a zone defense and the Bucks were in a zone in taking out the state’s second-ranked Class 9A team in Coral Springs, 73-60 on Tuesday night.

Senior Lutelson Jerome led four players in double figures for the Bucks with 19 points in the Class 9A regional semifinal at Coral Springs High. Jonathan Lemy and Hansley Senatus had 12 points each, while Michael Johnson added 11 in a winning effort.

Deerfield Beach (22-8) will travel to play Wellington in the regional final on Friday night. The Wolverines, who lost in the state semifinals last year to the eventual state champion, Osceola, are 29-0 this year.

We held some things back in the first three games,” said Bucks coach Kenny Brown, whose team entered the game as the eighth-ranked team by MaxPreps in Class 9A. “We weren’t going to do certain things. We just stuck to the basics. We decided to do some things tonight that we felt would work against them.

Tonight, we decided to play a zone (defense) and we knew they weren’t going to be prepared for that because we hadn’t done it before,” Brown continued. “They thought we were going to play man-to-man the whole game…we just played some 1-3-1 (zone) and never played man-to-man the whole night.”

Coral Springs (22-7) had defeated Deerfield three times during the season winning 61-55 in OT in the first meeting and then 60-54 in the second. The Colts, the second-ranked team in Class 9A and 8th ranked overall, then topped the Bucks 71-56 for the district championship.

Deerfield opened up an early 12-2 lead before the host Colts clawed back to tie the game at 30-30 on a lay-up by Deante Moore. The Bucks’ Hansley Senatus drained a 3-point basket at the buzzer as the Bucks took a 33-30 lead at the intermission.

Deerfield Beach used an 18-11 run in the third quarter to break open a close game and the Colts were unable to recover.

Coral Springs was led by Moore who scored 11 of his game-high 21 points in the fourth quarter, but the Colts were unable to recover from an 18-11 run in the third quarter that stretched the lead to double digits. The Colts, who won the state title in 2016, led just once in the first half as Jelani Heard opened a 2-0 lead with two free throws.

It was a rematch of last year’s regional semifinal won by Coral Springs, 47-44. Deerfield Beach reached the state semifinals in 2013 when it fell to eventual champion Haggerty, 57-54.

This is huge for these kids,” Brown added. “I have a lot of kids who this is their first year on varsity and this has been a year where they learned on the fly. We have had some ups and downs because of their youth, but they learned from it and they played a lot better tonight.”

Tigers rally past Dwyer, 65-50

Michael Forrest scored a game-high 38 points as Blanche Ely blew past Dwyer, 65-50, in the Class 8A regional semifinal in Palm Beach Gardens on Tuesday night.

Tigers coach Melvin Randall said Forrest has been the key to the team’s success down the stretch.

He is finally getting it that he is the leader,” said Randall, whose Tigers (21-8) will host McArthur on Friday in the Class 8A regional finals. “We don’t go anywhere without him.”

The win was the Tigers’ fourth straight year where they ended the Panthers’ season in the playoffs. Dwyer (26-2) saw its 13-game win streak come to an end. The team’s only other setback came on Jan. 9 to University School, 66-62.

Joshua Scott added 11 points on the night for Blanche Ely, which won four state titles in a five-year span from 2012-16. The Tigers, who won back-to-back championships in 2015 and 2016, were upset in their bid at a three-peat last year when it fell to Palm Beach Lakes in the regional semifinals.

Forrest scored 14 first-quarter points to stake the Tigers to 11-point lead after eight minutes and stretched the margin to 38-22 at the intermission. Dwyer made a late run, but it wasn’t enough.

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JV Knights win SACC Title

Posted on 22 February 2018 by LeslieM

The HCA Junior Varsity boys’ basketball team won the SACC Tournament recently with a 63-61 victory over Westminster Academy. (L to R) top row: James Nichols, Sean Julien, Bryce Everette, Brady Tiedemann, Darryl Carney, Pasha Szklany, Coach Luke Still; (bottom row): Nick Vaccaro, Mike Giourgas, Jimmy Good, Kolton Wik, Lor Louis, Josh Gray. Submitted photo

By Gary Curreri

The Highlands Christian Academy junior varsity boys basketball team got a little revenge as it captured the South Atlantic Coast Conference (SACC) championship with a 63-61 victory over Westminster Academy.

The Knights finished 15-8 this season and avenged its overtime loss to Westminster last year. Highlands Christian finished 15-3 last year.

I could not be prouder of our guys,” said Coach Luke Still, whose team also won the Sheridan Hills JV Invitational a week ago by defeating Boca Christian and then Sheridan Hills. “Going into this season we knew we had lost some talented guys from the previous year; however, this team was full of guys who were determined and not afraid to put in hard work.”

The top-seeded Westminster Academy squad advanced to the championship game with a 59-57 win over fourth-seeded Berean Christian, while second seeded Highlands edged third-seeded Jupiter Christian, 47-46, to move on. That win also avenged a two-point defeat to Jupiter Christian earlier this year.

In the opening game against Jupiter Christian, James Nichols led the Knights with 13 points, while Jimmy Good added 12 including 3 three-pointers.

In the championship game against the Lions, Nichols led the team again with 16 points, while Kolton Wik added 15 and Good had 13. The Knights had seven baskets from long distance that game with Wik and Good both hitting 3 each.

As a first-year student and player at Highlands, I knew this would be the right fit for me,” said Nichols, 14, of Deerfield Beach. “I enjoyed how Coach Luke prepared us in practices for the games. We worked really hard as a team and were able to accomplish our goal of winning the SACC Championship.”

The Knights were tied at 61 when Lor Louis got fouled with one second left on the clock. He hit both free throws to seal the Championship.  He finished the game with 5 points and had 8 points in the semis against Jupiter.

Just getting into the championship game was success for me, but our team was determined,” Still added. “After posting our best half the entire season, we let the lead slip in the fourth quarter. Westminster always plays hard, and had tied the game, with one second left on the clock, Lor Louis was fouled and knocked down both free throws. What a moment, for our team, for Lor who has worked incredibly hard to improve his game, and for our school.

To win the SACC on our home floor and the first win in over eight years,” he added. “As a coach, you desire to see young men improve on the court, but, more importantly, to see them grow in character and integrity as young men. It was such an honor to coach this incredible group of guys this season.”

 

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Tigers reach state; finish 4th in semifinals

Posted on 15 February 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Blanche Ely senior cheerleader Makya Harvard couldn’t have been happier with her team’s performance this season as they reached the FHSAA Class 2A state semifinals.

Harvard, 17, of Pompano Beach, finished her fourth year on varsity and third year on the competition team. Even though the team doesn’t have captains, Harvard is one of the leaders on the squad.

I have to make sure everyone is okay physically and emotionally,” said Harvard, who has been a cheerleader since age 4. “I also make sure everyone is on time and able to do what they are supposed to do. The best part for me? When I hit the mat and do what I do.”

More than 50 teams and 800 athletes from Broward, Palm and Miami-Dade counties competed in the Region 4 competition at Coral Springs High School. The top two teams in each division with a raw score of 70 or better earned an automatic entry into the state finals. A qualifying score of 60 or better earned the team a spot in the state semifinals at the Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on the campus of the University of Florida.

The Tigers finished ninth in the Large Non-Tumbling division and qualified for the state semifinals. They finished fourth at the state competition during those semifinals and failed to reach the finals at state.

There is an excitement knowing what I am doing, that people want to participate and I am making others happy…” Harvard said. “That’s what cheerleading is about, cheering people up.”

She said the hardest part about the sport is getting fans excited when a team is losing. She said the football season was very difficult.

That happened a lot this year; but, being a leader, you can’t let your emotions get the best of you,” she said. “I have to show my teammates and cheer everyone else up.”

How will that help down the road?

I think knowing that I can put my emotions aside in things that are important to me, and being a leader and taking charge, will help me when I get out in the real world and [with] a real job,” she said. “When I first came in my freshman year, we weren’t too good, and each and every year, we have progressed … We have unity and we go out together now. We have become one big family.”

Harvard said she was relieved that the team qualified for state this season.

It just shows that all of those long nights paid off,” she said. “Even though there were times when our fliers had injuries, we just pushed through.”

Deerfield Beach placed 10th at the regional competition in the Small Non-Tumbling Division and Pompano Beach finished ninth in the Medium Non-Tumbling Division as both squads failed to advance to state.

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Weber wins club championship

Posted on 31 January 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Marianne Weber fired a three-day total of 249 to win the Pompano Beach Women’s Golf Association Club Championship. Weber won the 3-day Low Gross tournament that was played Jan. 23, 25 and 26 defeating last year’s club champion, Mimi Denoma, by 13 strokes.

Nancy Rack won the B Flight with a 264 total, while Janet Tomchik shot 270 to finish as runner-up. In the C Flight, Vonnie O’Keefe (279) edged runner-up Kathy Dunn (289) for top honors. Alberta Bove carded a 316 to win the D Flight over Roseanna Nixon, who finished with a 321.

Charity beach volleyball event set

The Embrace Life Children’s Foundation has teamed up with Dig the Beach Volleyball to host a charity beach volleyball Pro/Am Tournament slated for next weekend on Deerfield Beach. Proceeds are going to the Salah Children’s Hospital at Broward Health.

The event, to be held on Feb. 10-11, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. will feature two days of competition. Saturday will include Men’s/Women’s Doubles for both professional and amateur players, while Sunday will include Junior Boys/Girls 12-18 and Co-Ed Doubles. The event will be held at 310 N. Ocean Blvd.

Several community sponsors have already joined, including Jersey Mike’s Subs and Harmless Harvest Coconut Water, who will feed and hydrate the players on Saturday. Other local businesses supporting the event are Rox Volleyball as a Title Sponsor, Pediatrix, Island Water Sports, Hypower Electric and International Union of Police Associations. Registration deadline is Feb. 9.

For player and sponsor information, visit www.embracelifechildrensfoundation.com or call Ben Koos at 954-608-2779.

Dillard tops Ely in 4-0 thriller

Dillard’s Bryce Oliver scored a game-high 25 points, including a key free throw down the stretch to help the Panthers escape with a 78-72 victory in four overtimes over visiting Blanche Ely.

Oliver scored all of his points in the second half and overtime as the Panthers improved to 9-7.

Deshawn Bartley had two free throws with 2:39 remaining in the final overtime to give the Panthers a 73-70 lead that it never relinquished. Bartley, who had seven points in the four overtimes, finished with 22 points, while teammate Seth Coddington chipped in with 11 points.

Blanche Ely guard Michael Forrest buried a 3-pointer at buzzer for a 39-36 lead heading into what was expected in the fourth and final quarter of the game. He scored 16 of his team’s final 18 points in regulation and finished with 22 points after going scoreless in the first half.

The Tigers (15-7) also got strong performances from Joshua Scott (20 points) and Calvin McCutcheon had 19 points.

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Bucks looking strong under new coach

Posted on 25 January 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

The Deerfield Beach High School girls basketball team looks poised to make a deep run in the playoffs this season under new coach Tami Vaughn.

She has also coached at Boyd Anderson, Pompano Beach, Northeast and was an assistant at Florida Atlantic University (2006-07). She also played overseas in Europe (England, Spain and Ireland).

They are very disciplined and work together as a team,” said Vaughn, who still has former coach Portia Williams on the staff. Williams stepped down from her head coaching duties due to health issues.

I enjoy coaching this group of girls. We are trying to rebuild the tradition here,” said Vaughn, whose fiancé is Jevon Glenn, the varsity football coach. “We also have Shuteamia Brayboy on the staff and she won state here. She is able to tell the girls what it means to be a Lady Buck and coach Williams is still here. The tradition is big here with girls basketball and I am very honored to be a part of it.

I was an assistant for three years and this is my first year as head coach,” Vaughn said. “We have everyone back from last year.”

One of the returners is sophomore guard DenAsia Mitchell, who tore her anterior cruciate ligament at the end of the last season and has helped the team get off to an 18-2 start, including key wins over District rival Douglas High School.

Losing her last year was very tough because we had some high expectations,” Vaughn said. “With her going out with the ACL, it put a damper on things. This year, with her back, we are on a roll. We are excited.”

Vaughn said they play more as a team this year and they have been listening more.

I think we can make a run for it if everybody stays healthy and we are praying that everybody stays healthy,” Vaughn said. “We need to play in bubble wrap. Beating Douglas this year shows they are ready and they are focused. Everything we have been doing is helping us for down the road.”

Vaughn said Ashley Shell and Mitchell have been two of the catalysts this season and said a pleasant surprise has been freshman Aaliyah Reid.

She’s been a rebounding machine,” Vaughn said.

Altieri takes fourth at nationals

Deerfield Beach’s Lucas Altieri, a member of the Florida Panthers Figure Skating Club, recently took fourth in the Novice Men’s Division at the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating National competition in San Jose, Calif. Altieri, 16, a North Broward Prep School sophomore, had hoped for a first place finish. He was fifth last year.

I skated my best so I am happy with it,” Altieri said. “When I first started, I wanted to be a speed skater and there is not much of that in Florida, so the coaches told me to try figure (skating) and I really liked it.

On the ice, I love it when I am skating really fast and it is fun when you are landing all of your jumps really well and you know everyone is watching you,” he said. “It is awesome. When you fall, you just get back up. I do get really frustrated, but I try and think that if I reach my goals, it will be worth it. If not, I will have other chances to do well.”

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