High School Sports

Greene Street days formed core of Beaufort High squad

A quiet Saturday often started with a phone call.

Someone wanted to know what someone else was doing. That someone called someone else.

The calls were more confirmation than anything. They all headed to Greene Street.

For five seniors on Beaufort High School's boys basketball team, this was their routine growing up. Keith Alston, Simeon Daise, Ruben Francis, Jordan Adderley and Dymonte Gwathney spent many days at Greene Street Gym growing up. When the gym closed for the day, the group headed for the street courts, where they would join others from the neighborhood playing pickup games into the night.

Most of the five lived within walking distance of Greene Street. They were known to area residents simply as the basketball players.

They played for the same team at Beaufort Middle School, losing only once in almost 40 games during seventh and eighth grade. They claimed the county championship both years. When people learned they were all in the same grade, they all said the same thing.

Just wait until y'all are seniors. You'll do big things.

"What everybody's been prophesying, what everybody's been telling us growing up -- the time is now," Daise said. "We have the talent. We have everything we need to get there. We've just got to know that it's our time, to do everything we need to do."

The Eagles are 16-4 overall and 4-1 in Region 8-AAAA entering the final two weeks of the regular season. They did not expect to have dropped four games by this point, but they're not worried.

Those who watched the five play for years set high expectations for this season. But the pressure doesn't fall on one of them, Daise said.

He doesn't want to paint a surreal picture of his neighborhood as one you might see on television dramas or news reports. No one is getting shot on the street corner, he said. But he said families fought, food wasn't always plentiful and friends spent weeks at each other's houses.

Any struggle to meet expectations on a basketball court is secondary.

"We've faced more pressure, more trials and tribulations than this right here," Daise said. "I guess all the pressure's taken away knowing that the boys we grew up with got each other's back."

Early on, these five developed roles they fill today. Francis earned a reputation as a tenacious defender, the only one known to take charges. He bugged his dad, David, to start a travel team and got his wish three years ago.

The first season was rough. But this past summer, the AAU team made up of almost all Beaufort High's players took third at a national tournament. Francis said he carved his own niche as a defender, but that his dad helped mold him.

"I just do the nitty gritty work," he said.

Gwathney is the scorer. Alston, smallest of the five, is the hustling guard, always on the lookout to distribute the ball. Adderley and Daise share the ball-handling responsibilities.

Sure, the Eagles go deeper than these five seniors. But this core, with their relationship built from years on the court together, holds things together for Bruce Beasley. The Eagles coach, in his 20th year at the school, said this team might be in his top five.

The final push will determine how this group is remembered and how the five, lauded for years, close this chapter.

Their first goal is a home playoff game. The Eagles, whose lone region loss was at Summerville, host the Green Wave on Friday.

"We're not looking too far ahead," Gwathney said. "We've still got some big games coming up to try and control the region. But we're really looking to state. We won't accept nothing less."

What comes after that is up in the air.

Alston wants to go to Francis Marion University and study computer engineering. Daise targets North Charleston Prep and a chance to continue playing basketball. Francis also hopes to earn a shot playing for a college somewhere. Gwathney wants to play football. Adderley has said he will join the Army if college doesn't work out, but Daise is trying to recruit him as a prep school teammate.

Wherever they end up, when circumstances find them all back in Beaufort, someone's going to pick up the phone.

"We'll try to stay in contact with each other and just keep trying to meet up somewhere and play ball," Francis said. "That's going to be our connection, playing basketball together."