March 19, 2009
Fifteen seconds left. The Dorchester Bears trail Boston English by three points. Darius Carter gets the pass, he's standing behind the three-point line. He shootsâ€¦ swish!
Tie game. The Bears go on to win, 67-66. Carter finishes with 29 points and with that three-point basket, becomes the first player from the Dorchester Education Complex to score 1,000 points.
"Coach had a play for another shooter on the team," remembered Carter from his home in Dorchester, "but English knew the ball was going to him, so he kicked it out to me and I hit the shot. It was a nice moment."
Carter, a senior at Tech Boston Academy, had plenty of nice moments this season; including a 50-point performance versus Hyde Park two nights after the record-breaker against Boston English.
Not bad for a kid who's listed at five-foot 11 inches and just started playing basketball five years ago.
"You just have to want it more than everyone else," Carter said. "When I'm on the court, I might be shorter than everybody, but my heart is big. I just try to attack as much as I can."
Bears head coach John Davis admires his player's strength and endurance.
"The key word is tough," Davis said. "He hit the floor plenty of times this season, but it doesn't affect him," he said.
Any bumps or bruises Carter suffered during the course of a game would not have time to heal on the bench, as coach Davis explained to Carter early in his career.
"I told him, 'I'm going to play you the entire game so you need to be in shape,'" Davis said.
Carter welcomed that challenge, and was able to play the entire length of every game his senior year.
"When I find an open gym, I could play for six hours straight," he said, "A game's usually an hour and a halfâ€¦ that's really nothing."
Coach Davis is extremely proud of Carter's development, both on and off the court.
"Darius didn't make the team his freshman year," Davis remembered. "He was going through a tough time, the street was being introduced to him," he said.
The first encounter between Davis and Carter did not go well. Carter was playing basketball with friends in the Girls Gym. Davis asked them to leave and was verbally attacked.
"Everyone I was with started acting disrespectful towards him, so I did, too," Carter said. "Then he walked out and everyone was yelling at me, 'Don't you know who that is?' But I had no idea," he said.
In addition to their fairly volatile first meeting, Carter did not have the grades to make the team as a freshman. He worked hard in school and distanced himself from the temptations of the streets.
"I knew that if I stayed on the road I was on, I wouldn't make it far in life," he said. "I wanted to go to college so I started picking my grades up, doing whatever I could to become a better person."
Davis noticed a change in Carter's attitude and allowed him to join the team his sophomore year.
"It was never about a lack of skill with Darius," he said. "It was more about his behavior and his priorities."
Under Davis, Carter slowly committed to the team concept. "Even though he could score at will, his sophomore year he had to learn to be a role player," Davis said. "He had a lot of street ball in him and had to learn to play with the team."
Carter's commitment to academics and athletics only increased.
"I did whatever I could. If I had to stay after school to pull my grades up, I stayed after school," he said. "I tried really hard to get all my work in on time, I think that was key."
Success in the classroom was balanced with an unwavering commitment to basketball. "He'd come and ask me, 'What can I do to get better?' and then he'd go work on whatever I told him," Davis said.
Carter had come such a long way by his senior year, he was asked by Davis to coach the Dorchester freshman team.
"I've won three games. I'm three and 0!" boasted Carter.
Coach Davis isn't at all surprised by Carter's success as a leader of younger players. "The kids really look up to him," Davis said.
The response from college recruiters has been below what both player and coach were expecting, but Davis believes Carter could succeed at a Division II program.
"He would be a coach's dream," Davis said. "He has so many great physical attributesâ€¦ and he's a kid who made the right choice, who chose academics and athletics over the street."
Carter said he wants to go to college and play basketball and is currently enrolled in college prep courses. Wherever he goes next, this kid from Dorchester has already come a long way.