HOLIDAY, Fla. - Winning has a sound. It's a jumbled mix of screaming fans in the stands, coaches yelling, blown whistles, and an ethusiastic public address announcer. Well, this season, Anclote has heard the sound a lot. That's because they've done a lot of winning. So much, in fact, that the Sharks set a single-season program record with 17 wins. But this type of success wasn't just developed over the course of this season. This has been a process years in the making.
“We’ve been waiting for this moment since sixth, seventh grade," said junior guard Jacobie Forrest. "And to just finally get here and actually accomplish what we’ve been wanting to accomplish, it’s like a dream come true, almost.”
"We are having a lot of fun because winning is fun," said 6'4" junior combo guard Jalen Cooper. "Just knowing that we have the best record in school history is fun, because we like making history.”
Anclote is led by Michael Cooper, who is in his 4th year as head coach. Cooper played at Gibbs high in St Pete. From there it was on to the University of Tampa, followed by a career overseas. Cooper has used his years of existence to help instill a winning culture at Anclote.
“Learning and beginning that process in ninth and tenth grade, I try to joystick them, and try to get them to do the right things," said coach Cooper, who says they players have benefitted from being in his defense-first system for over five years. "Now, I don’t have to do that as much. I can just let them play and trust that they’re are going to make the right decisions.”
The confidence between players and coach is carrying the Sharks to plenty of “firsts” for the program. Anclote will host the upcoming district tournament. And the Sharks would love to capture their first ever district title in their own gym.
“People doubted us," said Forrest. "Our school doubted us! So to come in and win it - it would mean a lot.”
“If we play our game, play defense, then no one compares to us," said junior forward Jakob Hester. "We just go out there, play the game and we shouldn’t have trouble with anybody.”
“I believe we will win," said coach Cooper. "The confidence I got and the confidence I got in my team. We will win districts and then the goal is to get to the Elite Eight. Get to the Elite Eight (Regional Final) and anything can happen."
Anclote boys basketball is close to realizing the dream of a district title. They once thought about the sky being the limit. And are now just a three wins away from soaring in the clouds.