TKA Boys Varsity Basketball Team Ready For Postseason Push

The TKA boys varsity basketball team. Photo by Christian Proscia

Murray Smith, head coach of the boys varsity basketball team at the King’s Academy, is looking to take his program into unchartered waters: winning the Class 3A, District 8 championship and advancing deep into the Florida High School Athletic Association’s Class 3A state tournament.

“The boys basketball team here at King’s has not won a district title since 1990,” said Smith, now in his fourth year as head coach. “That’s more than 30 years ago.”

There’s a strong chance that this year’s team will successfully navigate those unchartered waters.

At the end of the current regular season, TKA had a brilliant 23-1 record. The only blemish was a 65-47 loss at home against Palm Beach Lakes High School on Jan. 17.

“We didn’t show up that night and didn’t play as a team,” Smith recalled.

But for the majority of the season, TKA has had success because of its team-oriented approach.

“This season, our players have shared the ball, been unselfish and they actually like one another,” Smith said.

The loss to Palm Beach Lakes was a wake-up call, and the team responded with seven straight wins, one of which was an 11-point district victory against John Carroll Catholic High School on Jan. 26.

That was a big win because TKA played the Rams again on Wednesday, Feb. 8 in the District 8 tournament semifinals. That result was not available at press time. With a win against the Rams, the Lions will play Friday, Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. at home in the district championship game against either the Benjamin School or Inlet Grove.

“If we keep winning at home, we keep playing at home in the postseason,” Smith said.

With or without a victory in the district championship game, TKA will advance to play in the regionals, based on its strong FHSAA Power Ranking. In the Class 3A regionals, a team must win games on Feb. 16, 21 and 24 in order to advance to the Class 3A state finals in early March at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.

For the Lions to advance to the state finals, Smith will be looking for big contributions from Jermaine Council, Jack Chamberlin, Javian Jones, Ransom Soles, Reggie Workman and James Shoenfelt.

“Jermaine can shoot the jump shot or drive it to the rim,” Smith said. “He uses his left hand to finish very well. Jack is 6-foot-5 and is our leading rebounder. He is a good passer when the defense double teams him. Javian is one of our best ball handlers and passers of the basketball. Ransom is one of our many good shooters. Reggie leads our team in assists with 6.5 assists per game. And, at 6-foot-4, James Shoenfelt scores, rebounds, makes steals and gets assists.”

If TKA can run the table by winning its district championship and a regional title, it will be Smith’s eighth trip to Lakeland for the state finals in his long career as a high school basketball coach in Palm Beach County. And on three occasions, his teams won state championships.

“It’s not easy getting to the state final four in Lakeland,” Smith said.

Winning a state championship for TKA would also be like venturing into unchartered waters for the boys varsity basketball team.