Senior moments

When he begins his next athletic and scholastic journey in the fall, likely as a Delaware State University freshman, Myles Carter will take with him the designation of being the Academy at Palumbo’s all-time leading scorer. Along with being able to discuss the diligence that netted him 1,041 career points, the North Philly resident will also speak of the maturation that occurred within him and his basketball brethren through their Hawthorne-based studies and competitive endeavors.

“We built something special here, so it’s going to be tough to let that all go,” the senior said Tuesday from the school, 1100 Catharine St., one day removed from the Griffins’ 54–49 Class AAAA playoff loss at Bartram. “However, we’ll sustain that wherever we go from here as individuals.”

The 17-year-old sniper has proven a perfect poster child for the tenacity that fourth-year coach Frank Schneider has stressed since taking the job. Failing to make the team as a freshman, Carter committed himself to becoming a better player, and this year, with four fellow seniors joining him in the lineup, he and his peers became highly revered performers.

“If you ask Public League coaches for descriptions of this team, you’d hear ‘hard working,’ ‘smart’ and ‘relentless,’” Schneider said. “It was a super intelligent team that fought through some rough patches to have a great identity. In fact, I have never had a group who left the Palumbo jersey in a better state than these kids.”

The coach added that this year yielded “probably my proudest season” because of the accountability that the roster members had to one another. Their hardwood harmony came as an extension of their academic proficiency, as every starter has registered at least a 3.5 grade point average. Knowing they would not back down from the challenges, Schneider loaded the non-league schedule with showcase and tournament games, with seniors Rahee Ellis and Marquez Cruz especially grateful for the tests.

“I think those opportunities make us tougher,” Ellis, 17, said of the slate that yielded four wins. “Coach definitely knew what he was doing in preparing us for our regular schedule, and as the season went on, we just kept getting stronger.”

The Queen Village resident, who, like Carter, might look to walk on for the aforementioned university, knows that people might look at the Griffins’ 12–11 mark and think the campaign should count as only a moderate success. He definitely disagrees with that outlook, taking pride in their 8–5 mark in the National Division, which merited a third-place finish.

“This system encourages everyone to be smart and responsible,” Ellis, the team’s lone four-year starter, said, with Carter and Cruz joining him in reciting Schneider’s precepts for team unity, namely, attention to detail, a lack of shortcuts, and alignment on the floor, dubbed Echo Command. “Our time at Palumbo is done, but it’s going to be in our blood when we move on.”

As the club’s “most fundamentally sound player,” according to Schneider, Cruz, another North Philly resident, loved asking more of himself during his final run with the Griffins. As the undisputed brainiac among them, with a 3.97 GPA that has scored him a partial academic scholarship to Seton Hall University, he helped his contemporaries to play a controlled style, one that they felt would translate into postseason success.

“Unfortunately, though, some stuff didn’t go our way, and we couldn’t fight back,” the future biology major said. “I think, though, that we liked pushing ourselves to get better not with each game but with each quarter. That’s a good mindset to have when you’re about to move on from being a high school student to face the real world.”

“These guys are ready for whatever life is going to bring their way,” Schneider said of the trio, with Carter looking to study law and Ellis enthused about computer science. “It’s going to be hard not to have them around, but they’ve definitely made me able to say that this program is headed in a very good direction.”

When learning of that estimation of their contributions, Carter was all smiles.

“He was a great leader for us,” the marksman said. “He helped us to become smarter players and people, too. You have to respect that.”