Despite their small size, the Sandcrabs play intense basketball for all 32 minutes.
With 2 minutes to play in the third quarter, Seabreeze’s Avery Randolph picked off a pass and sprinted down the court. Trailing the play was 6-foot-1 sharpshooter Mitchell Miller, who spotted up deep beyond arc on the left wing.
Miller, with the ball in his hands, hesitated for a moment as he sized up his defender. And despite being well-guarded, he decided to shoot the ball anyway.
Miller’s 3-pointer gave the Sandcrabs an 11-point lead — their largest of the night.
As he hustled to get back on defense, the normally reserved senior looked at his defender and talked trash to him.
“We needed to pick up the intensity,” Miller said. “They started to talk trash to me. I felt like I needed to say a little something back, but not enough to get the technical. I thought it was good for the team to pick up the energy.”
Picking up the intensity: That was Seabreeze coach Pepper Johnson’s message to his team as they trailed DME Academy 20-12 at halftime in their preseason opener on Friday, Nov. 23, at Atlantic High School.
Intensity, effort and aggressiveness are qualities needed by all teams, but especially if you’re tallest player stands at 6-foot-3.
Having an undersized roster has been the norm for Johnson and the Sandcrabs the past three seasons.
“I’ve kind of gotten used to it these last three years,” he said. “But one thing I know: These guys are going to give me everything night in and night out.”
The Sandcrabs did just that in their 53-46 win. And regardless of the spurts they went through when they had a difficult time putting the ball in the basket, the Sandcrabs’ defense was as engaged as ever.
“Even if your shots aren’t falling, you can still play hard defense and keep up the energy,” said Miller, who connected on four 3-pointers against DME. “If you get stops on defense, it translates into momentum on the offensive end of the floor.”
Both Miller and Randolph, as well as forward Amarri Davis and Darius Malone, are expected to be key contributors for the Sandcrabs, whose roster has an average height of about 5 foot 9 inches.
But for the Sandcrabs, it’s not about the size.
“It’s about the heart,” Randolph said. “We have to come out here and play hard every single night.”