Sicily Island boys basketball ranked No. 1 for 1st time in school history

Published 12:10 am Thursday, February 9, 2017

When Sicily Island basketball coach Curtis Shavers is displeased with something that his team does, the punishment drill is to run a mile down Peck Road to a small lake with a steep hill.

If Shavers is feeling kind, the Tigers are required to climb the hill five times and then run their way back to the gym.

His method must be working.

Email newsletter signup

Under Shavers’ direction, Sicily Island (26-5, 13-0) has climbed its way to a No. 1 ranking for the first time in school history.

“When they are at their best, I would put them up against anybody,” Shavers said. “I think this is the hardest working team I’ve ever had.”

The team received notice of it’s top ranking in LHSAA Class 1A on Jan. 31 following an 84-69 victory over Delhi the night before.

Shavers said that the school made an announcement that afternoon to highlight the special occasion.

“It makes everyone feel good,” senior Johnny Tolliver said. “It lets us know that we are doing a good job and setting an example.”

The Tigers haven’t lost a game since Dec. 26, and their undefeated district record has already clinched them the 2-1A title.

To add to its impressive resumé, three of Sicily Island’s five losses have come to teams in higher classifications. They have also outscored their opponents by an average of 20 points in games they have won.

Shavers said that the team’s unity is one of its strongest assets.

It’s no wonder his team is close because his players grew up playing together, and many of them are related in one way or another.

The Tigers starting bunch have one set of brothers and three sets of cousins. And to add to their unison, junior Jim Atkins proposed the idea for the group to wear jersey numbers 1 through 5.

“We all just said we were going to take a single digit number,” Atkins said. “We are playing as a team more than ever.”

Senior Devion Dunbar is leading the team in scoring by averaging 24 points a game.

Dunbar posted 34 points in the Tigers’ 91-38 win over Beekman Tuesday, including five dunks.

Sicily Island has made the extravagant plays a specialty. In Tuesday’s win, Tyreke Tolliver added four dunks, and Atkins slammed two of his own.

“When they have a break away, I don’t mind,” Shavers said. “It’s all a part of them proving people wrong, including me. They like to give the other team’s ammunition to go against them, but when all of them are clicking, you can’t defend just one.”

Although Shavers has had district championship teams in the past, he is hopeful that this will be the first year his team can win a state title.

The Tigers made a semifinal appearance in 2013 and had their best playoff finish in school history the following year as state runner-up.

“I think we have all the pieces,” Shavers said. “I think they are realizing this is their last goal, and they are going to do all they can.”

Sicily Island will play its final district game of the year tonight at home against St. Frederick.