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PSAL Boys Coach of the Year: DeWitt Thompson

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DeWitt Thompson admits to being a bit spoiled over the years at Jamaica for always having a go-to player in his lineup, including Levell Sanders, Javar Cheatham and Cheyne Gadson.

Until this year.

Thompson knew he had his work cut out for him this past season guiding a young group of relatively unknown players. The result was one of Thompson’s most rewarding campaigns in his 11 years as the Jamaica head coach. The Beavers finished in third place behind Cardozo and Bayside in Queens II-A and made it to the PSAL playoffs.

That’s reason enough to name him the TimesLedger PSAL Coach of the Year.

“Before the season the question was, ‘who is going to step up?’” Thompson said. “These are the greatest kids in the building academically and in terms of character and, as the season went on they pulled together and made memories that will last a lifetime.”

The fact that not one of his players were named to any publication’s all-star team is proof for Thompson of his team’s selfless attitude.

“There was no stud, there was no star who felt obligated to get the ball,” he said. “But together they played five-man basketball and I have a warm spot in my heart for these kids.”

Without a superstar ego on this team, Thompson said the fun was back in coaching. It is something that has been somewhat missing for Thompson the last couple of years.

And of course, it also brought about winning, including a first for Thompson, when the Beavers went into LaSalle Academy and came away victorious.

“They believed and they listened and we went into LaSalle and pulled off one of the biggest upsets of my career,” Thompson said. “Of course, it’s not the LaSalle of old, but it’s also not the Jamaica of old either.”

In addition to basic strategy, Thompson went into his bag of tricks for some special defenses. The hard-working Beavers held John Bowne senior and TimesLedger All-Queens first team player Richard Hall to just 20 points after the 6-foot-1 swingman torched Jamaica for 32 earlier in the year.

“These kids were the best of the rest. They could have lost to Bowne and Hillcrest,” Thompson said. “Instead they got everything they could out of the season. Respect existed in the locker room.”

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