Cavalier Basketball Team Sees Season-Long Success


courtesy of the Cavalier Basketball Team

Despite a disappointing end to the 2020-2021 basketball season, the team has seen remarkable success during this unusual season.

When Miami became a national epicenter of COVID-19 in summer 2020, it was hard to imagine that high school sports seasons would resume in the upcoming school year with any semblance of normalcy. But as masked practices and tentative games resumed in the fall, the basketball season took off. Now, after an admittedly shaky start, the boys’ Varsity basketball team boasts a 14-4 overall record, an eight-game (and counting!) win streak, and both FL District 15 and Greater Miami Athletic Conference championship titles. 

COVID-19 precautions have taken their toll on every team this school year, and Gables was no exception. The season began with a mandatory two-week quarantine for the Gables players after a possible exposure. When they returned, the lack of joint practices contributed to a few initial losses which senior player Patrick Flipse described as “unusual” for the team. 

But soon enough, the team “got back in [their] groove” with an ongoing series of wins against local teams such as Miami High, Columbus, South Miami, North Miami, and Doral Academy. 

The team also won the annual Senior Game, the traditional last game played on a team’s home court, on Feb 1 with a 70-52 victory over Ferguson High School. 

“The senior game is a pretty symbolic game that brings awareness to everyone that our time on the team is almost done. It lets us appreciate each other as teammates and really as family considering the way we have connected and bonded over the last four years,” senior Patrick Flipse said. 

Their success was not by chance, but a product of a rigorous practice schedule that included three-hour practices five days a week, organized game plans to counter each opponent, and drills designed to help carry out each plan. For instance, shooting drills contributed to the “buzzer beaters” that both Desmond Romer and Marcos Molina managed to score from half-court during games this season. 

The team managed to keep up this practice and game schedule while abiding by the COVID-19 regulations that affect all sports teams in Miami-Dade county. To limit the spread of the virus, teams are encouraged to complete a daily COVID-19 “symptoms checker” on the Gables campus, wear masks when possible and practice social distancing in transit to the games. 

Though this may remove some of the traditional sports-related traditions – such as huddling together before a game or sharing seats on a bus – it has made it possible for the season to continue with relative normalcy. After the initial quarantine in Fall 2020, the boys’ basketball team was able to complete the rest of their season without further isolations. 

Their success has led to some team members receiving school-affiliated and independent awards; several members have been named Gables’ ‘Athlete of the Week’ during the 2020-2021 school year, and MaxPreps, an independent website that keeps track of high school sports, has named several Gables players ‘Player of the Game.’ Desmond Romer earned this title for the matches against Miami High and the earlier game against Columbus, and Jonathan Siliman received the title in the more recent match versus Columbus. 

“The boys did a great job this year and their dedication can be seen by their crowning as GMAC and District Champions…I have no doubt that their hard work is a testament to what will be a successful future as community members in our society,” Principal Ullivarri said.

How the team will celebrate their wins is yet to be determined; the traditional end-of-year banquet’ may be out of the question, but there may be a COVID-safe event to close out the season. 

Regardless of how the next year’s season may look logistically, the team is more prepared than ever after a year of successful games amid a pandemic. 

“Younger players should look to us as inspiration; I want to tell them that you don’t know how long your season will be so try to have fun with your teammates, stay positive, and enjoy the experience,” senior Patrick Flipse said.