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‘Commitment’ defines NFM boys hoops

January 30, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Leland Clifford has one expectation for the North Fort Myers High School boys basketball team: commitment.

If you don't show it, you're on your way out the door.

What has resulted is a team that is much more cohesive than it has been in recent years, even if those teams have been more athletic.

Article Photos

North Fort Myers boys basketball player Travis Goodwin readies to shoot during a game Jan. 22 against Charlotte.


But, good attitude aside, with the exception of one player, most of the team has little or no varsity experience and so a 3-14 record.

Ahead is a likely battle with Charlotte in the district tournament, which, in the past, hasn't gone well.

The Red Knights were 13-13 in 2016-17 and have only won six games since.

Clifford said the transition has been different for everybody regarding hours and a new level of commitment.

"It's been a learning experience for all of us. We're limited in some respects, but in others, like in playing together, we're ahead of other teams," Clifford said. "We have a collection of guys who haven't played varsity and didn't make the team last year on a team that won three games."

Ultimately, it will come down to commitment, with those who don't have the drive will likely fall out.

"The guys that are here want to be here. The guys who weren't going to help the program move forward won't be around," Clifford. "Even now, I'm easing them into it. They're shocked by how intense it's been this year, but I'm going to crank it up as we go. Things I've been okay with this year, I won't be next year."

When North played Charlotte last week, their weaknesses were apparent. The team was missing five players, who were at a football banquet, but the Tarpons scored so many easy baskets it was hard to keep track of them as they went on to a 101-39 win.

Makai Reaves scored 29 points as Charlotte, the likely No. 2 seed in the District 7A-10 tournament, led 66-18 at the half and played with a running lock for the entire second half.

Caden Chisholm has been a bright spot for the Knights. He scored 25 points in the loss and has been the team's only legitimate scoring threat this season and one of the few holdovers from last year's team.

"Caden has had one of the best seasons anyone from North has had for a while, and we don't have the pieces around him," Clifford said. "We ask him to do a lot, yet his efficiency rate is still 40 percent."

Chisholm said his team was badly outclassed by Charlotte.

"We didn't come prepared for the game. We were missing five players. Things have completed flipped upside down here," Chisholm said. "We're a young team and hopefully we'll have some new kids who want to come here."

Jeffrey Krumm, the team's next best scorer, was injured for the Charlotte game, but freshman Travis Phan has worked his way to the starting lineup, as has Isiah Gibson.

"It's been challenging, but I can see there will be improvement. Coach motivates us and pushes us to the next level, so next year, we'll be better," Phan said.



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