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North boys hoops team putting it together

By Staff | Dec 27, 2019

North Fort Myers guard Gio Torres looks for the open man during a holiday tournament game against Island Coast on Thursday.

After losing its first six games of the season, the North Fort Myers High boys basketball team has gotten its players back from football and starting to play like a team going places.

The Red Knights won two of their next three (with the loss coming in overtime), including the first game of its Southwest Florida Sunshine Showdown holiday tournament against Island Coast.

Jeffrey Krum scored 29 points as the Red Knights blew open a close game in the third quarter of a 67-44 victory over the Gators on Thursday in the North High gym.

Shan’Neil Welch and Jordan Goodwin added 12 apiece for the victors, who outscored Island Coast 28-10 in a decisive third quarter after being ahead just 24-22 at halftime.

“It was about running the offense and we turned up the pressure on defense, which we do very well,” North coach Leland Clifford said. “Our team feels we should be 5-3 because we lost some close ones against decent teams. We’ve played well against good teams.”

Clifford started the season with pretty much only half a squad, as many of his players were still playing football. Many of those players didn’t arrive until just before the season opener.

“We have so many football players, we are going to start slow. It was my mistake for scheduling so many games so early in the season,” Clifford said. “I’m going to backload my schedule from now on as opposed to playing eight games before Christmas.”

After starting 0-6, with the last three losses coming by single digits, the Knights finally won on Dec. 16 at home against Imagine of North Port.

This year’s team features two freshmen, Atavious Weaver, a 6-foot-3 forward, and Santigo Arroyo, who plays point guard.

It is Weaver most people have their eyes on, especially after averaging nearly 10 points and 12 rebounds per game. His coming out party was in the overtime loss against Ida Baker when he scored 19 points and grabbed 18 rebounds.

He was a little quieter in Thursday’s game, with just six points, but he was dominant in the paint.

“I have to be skilled because we have a lot of skilled players on the team that can score, so I try my hardest to be my best,” Weaver said.

“He played football, but he was with me all summer, so he was able to pick up things a lot quicker,” Clifford said. “Our freshmen are competitors. Both want to win and take it harder when we lose than the seniors. We’re starting to turn the page and there’s more structure than in the past.”

Krum is still the man the offense goes through, averaging around 19 points per game and finally finding the shot rather than forcing up something, Clifford said.

“I’m finding my shot and the team is working together now. Everything is flowing rather than forced,” Krum said. “We’ve been talking more the last three games and we’ve become more experienced, and along with the freshmen, we’re playing with some chemistry now.”

Clifford has indeed changed the way North has done things. With the program not having a winning season in at least 15 years, it stands to reason.

The Gators, who beat North three weeks ago, were led by Anthony Revelo’s 14 points.

Read online at cape-coral-daily-breeze.com for tournament coverage.