Sickles Garcia Notches 300 Wins
Even after Sickles High junior Bryce Beamer drained a 3-pointer from the left side, pushing his team’s fourth-quarter lead over Gaither to 25 points, Gryphons boys basketball coach Renaldo Garcia stayed in a crouch halfway down his team’s bench, barking at his players to stay in the game.
Sickles cruised to an 82-52 win to lock up the top seed in next week’s Class 7A-District 8 tournament. The victory marked the 20th time this season Sickles (22-2) won by double digits and earned Garcia his 300th career win.
While acknowledging the accomplishment was important to him, Garcia said the really important part of the night was the more than a dozen former players who returned to watch it happen.
“What means more to me than that number is the guys coming back and showing the kids we have now that they have a lot to play for,” Garcia said. “It’s not just Sickles and yourself now. There are people who played here years ago and still care about this program.
“Days when your tired and you don’t feel like working, it’s thinking about those guys that makes you get to it and continue to work hard.”
The win, keyed by Beamer’s 28 points, along with 18 from Bryce Workman and 16 from Manny DeJesus, was business as usual for Garcia, and he acknowledged his team had to work through some focus issues.
“Night’s like tonight and senior nights, the focus can kind of get shifted,” Garcia said. “Anytime a team like Gaither in a rivalry game comes in, you know both teams are going to play with a lot of passion.”
Gaither became just the fifth team to score more than 50 points against Sickles this season. The Cowboys are 9-12 and were led by senior Trevor Blackmon with 23 points and sophomore Donovan Jennings, who scored 17.
Garcia, who graduated from Tampa Catholic before playing basketball at the University of Florida, began as the junior varsity coach at Sickles when the school opened in 1997, and he took over as the varsity coach in 2001. Under Garcia, the Gryphons have won seven district championships and reached the region tournament 11 times. Sickles was the Class 5A state runner-up in 2005.
After Monday’s win, Garcia shook hands and took pictures with his former players and admitted that seeing them return made the milestone that much more important.
“Seeing some of those guys who I haven’t seen in a number of years means the world to me,” Garcia said. “As coaches, we know that we are only as good as what we have to work with, and I’ve been really fortunate to have tremendous support from players, parents and our administration. And I promise I don’t take any of that for granted.”