COOPER CITY — Before his team faced Cooper City in a district boys basketball game, Hollywood Hills coach Leo Green sat in the bleachers and described new addition Ethan Cypress as being an “all-around player.”
Ethan proceeded to back up his coach’s description with an all-around solid performance that helped Hollywood Hills post a 67-51 win Dec. 8 at Cooper City High School. The victory was the third in a row for Hollywood Hills and another sign the team was headed in the right direction after it lost six straight to open the season.
Hollywood Hills received a boost this year when Ethan decided he wanted to spend his senior year close to home on the Hollywood Reservation.
“He’s fit in very well. He brings leadership to the team and a very calm demeanor,” Green said.
The adjustment has been smooth for Ethan, a shooting guard/small forward who spent his junior year at Montverde Academy near Orlando. With one game left before the holiday break, Ethan led Hollywood Hills in scoring with 15.3 points per game. His best games point-wise came against two of Hollywood Hills’ toughest foes: McArthur and Cypress Bay. Ethan scored a season-high 23 points in each game. He also dropped 21 in a win against Western.
“Being this is my last year, it’s going pretty good,” Ethan said.
A potpourri of Ethan’s skills was displayed in Cooper City. From shooting to quickness to passing to defense, Ethan produced highlights in each phase.
His back-to-back baskets – including a 3-pointer – put Hollywood Hills in front early, 10-9.
In the second quarter, he faked out a defender on the way to a layup with a lightning-quick move done so impressively that it riled up fans on both sides of the court.
Cooper City could have trimmed its deficit to seven with less than three minutes left in the game, but Ethan made a steal in the defensive zone that led to a layup by Deron Fulwood and an 11-point cushion.
With 90 seconds left, Ethan made a nifty no-look pass – ala DeForest Carter – for an easy hoop by London Williams that sealed the victory.
Following in the footsteps of Carter – who starred at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – is a goal Ethan hopes to achieve.
“DeForest played college ball for four years and I really want to do that, too,” Ethan said. “I’ve played against him in some men’s tournaments on the reservation and it made me more aware of my game and made me stronger.”
Similar to the way Carter played in college, Ethan plays with an abundance of court awareness.
“He’s a bright spot for our team,” Green said. “I tell him all the time he’s too unselfish because of how good of a player he is. He doesn’t hog the ball; he’s willing to pass it. He picks his time to shine.”
Ethan, the son of Katherine and Jason Cypress, doesn’t have a preference where he plays in college, as long as he plays.
“If I get the opportunity to play anywhere, I’ll go play. I want to play college basketball,” he said.
This season Ethan is making up for some lost time. His first two years of high school were hampered by an injury. Being healthy and back home are two reasons why he’s enjoying his senior year so much.
“I love playing in front of my family and friends. They root for me to do good things in my career. I’m grateful for that,” Ethan said.
In June, Ethan played for the Tribe at the Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI) in Phoenix.
“We went pretty far. We were hoping to win, but we got third place out of 87 teams. It was a great experience playing against other Tribes,” he said.
Ethan plans to return to NABI in 2016, but first he and his Hollywood Hills teammates hope to end a lengthy drought. Hollywood Hills hasn’t advanced to the state regional playoffs since 2004. With a 2-1 district record, they’re in decent shape to qualify for the Class 7A-District 15 playoffs, where they would have to win one game to move on to regionals.
“That’s our main goal, going far, win as many games as we can, make it to playoffs and hopefully states,” Ethan said.