A farewell to a long-time coach, competing at state finals and having several games canceled due to COVID-19 exposure are just a few of the things that characterized last year’s boys’ basketball season. However, the 2021-2022 school year seems to be filled with new beginnings as the Coral Gables Senior High team and athletic department welcome Coach Armand Shoon to the court.
On an anticipated arrival, Coach Shoon met with the team on Oct. 11, sharing with them his expectations for the winter season and his past experiences with basketball. Understanding the trials and tribulations of the past year, Shoon made it a priority to bring the team together the moment he stepped into the gymnasium.
“One thing that is really big for me is family. I want them to know that as I come in here they are immediately my family. I have their back… and with effort, anything is possible,” Coach Shoon said.
Coach Shoon is familiar with basketball, having played since his junior year of high school and going on to play for Florida Gulf Coast University and later St.Thomas University, where he was Newcomer of the Year and an All-Conference player.
Shoon later received two professional contract offers to play for Brazil and Germany, but he was injured before he could accept any of these opportunities.
His injury did not dampen his love for basketball, however. He has since spent time coaching the sport on college teams. In his first year of coaching, Shoon was able to lead his team to the number one rank in the nation. In the national championships, his team made it to the top four, losing by a buzzer-beater that gave the opposing team a one-point edge.
As much as he values basketball, Shoon places heavy importance on the academics and motivation involved with playing sports. Shoon keeps his academic standards as high as his standards for performance in games.
“Whether you are a teacher or you’re a coach, you gotta love being around kids and want to get them to the next level. That’s one thing Coach Shoon had…he had the passion, he had the energy, he had the experience both as a player and as a coach,” Mr. Ullivarri said.
After years of coaching at the collegiate level, Shoon was ultimately drawn to Gables because of its community feel. Gables’ various academic and athletic programs are what brought Shoon in, reminding him that he is working with student-athletes whose best interests he has at heart.
Trying to keep up with last year’s accomplishments proves to be one of the major challenges for Shoon. Leading a team back into championships takes practice, which Shoon is ready to put in.
“It is always hard to go back to a championship, but it is a challenge that I’m going to place in front of each and every one of our players. That way they can rise up to the occasion and we can win another district championship this year,” Coach Shoon said.
Although Shoon has shared his techniques and strategies with the team, he has yet to disclose what he has prepared with others, leaving fans awaiting the first game of the season.
With official tryouts on Nov. 2, the boys’ team is preparing to bring all they have to the court. Both Coach Shoon and returning players have made it clear that this year’s basketball season will be one that is sold-out.
Freshman Nehemiah “Boopie” Daniels shooting a basket against the Miami High Stingarees.
With the start of basketball season, the Coral Gables Senior High Cavaliers had their first home basketball game against long-time rivals, Miami Senior High School. On Thursday, Dec. 2, tickets sold out as Cavaliers and Stingarees alike were eager to watch the long-awaited showdown.
The match was a white-out game, meaning the Cavalier crowd was encouraged to show up in all-white to support their team.
The rivalry between Gables and Miami High is longstanding, and the passion of the crowd was evident as each fan section came up with their own creative cheers to shout at each other.
The Gables basketball team opened up strongly with a three-pointer by senior and captain, Romulo Delgado. However, Miami High did not give up points easily and took the lead shortly after.
The crowds behind both teams were going crazy, yelling and jumping out of their seats at any and all scores. The Gables basketball team took inspiration from their spirited fans in the stands and fought hard. Each free throw attempted by the Miami High team was met with chants of “Miss it!” from the Gables cheerleaders.
At half time, the Stingarees led with a score of thirty-one to forty-three, but Cavaliers still did not lose hope. The Gablettes performed a halftime show, donning white sweatsuits.
The performance was a mix of hip-hop dances and cool tricks, and the crowds sang along to a remix of popular songs. Players, cheerleaders and fans all cheered on their Nationals-winning dance team.
Both basketball teams returned from halftime ready to play hard, and tensions were high as the interactions between crowds became more passionate. Cheerleaders led the crowd in a chant of “Whose house?” to which zealous Cavaliers responded “Our House!”
“The game was so intense, I almost felt as if I was playing on the court myself. We were all screaming our loudest and I felt a collective school spirit that I haven’t felt in a long time,” senior Andrea Delgado said.
At the beginning of the second half, the Stingarees began to pull ahead and the Cavaliers began pulling out all the stops, boxing out the opposing team and blocking shots.
Senior Danny Gonzalez broke free from the Stingaree defense and scored two three-pointers in a row. After a hard-fought battle, the Cavaliers ultimately ended the game with a final score of 71-85.
“Of course none of us wanted to lose that game in front of our home crowd but we fought hard and there were many positives that came out of that game. It’s a process and our goal is a championship at the end of the year, not one single win,” senior Romulo Delgado said.
This leaves the basketball team with a record of one win and two losses at this point in the season. Despite the loss, this is not the end of the season, and the next home game is on Jan. 6 versus the Doral Academy Firebirds.
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