HOLLYWOOD — Jacelyn Billie picked a good time to join the Hollywood Hills High School girls basketball team, and she’s glad she did.

Billie, a sophomore forward, had played basketball before this season, but never for an organized team, such as a school. With encouragement from her dad Jason, who has a basketball background as a player and coach, Billie decided to try out for the Hollywood Hills team.

“It was something new,” she said. “I had never been on an actual basketball team. I wanted to try something new to get out of my comfort zone. I’m really glad I did it. I met some new people.”

And she became part of the program’s stunning turnaround under coach Tavirus Davis.

Before Davis arrived two years ago, the team had endured some winless seasons and only won one game in four years. But Davis, a former University of Central Florida football player, quickly shifted the team from a cellar-dweller into a contender.

The team won nine games in Davis’s rookie year and this season went 16-7, which included its first-ever win against South Broward High and a spot in Broward County’s Big 8 for the first time.

“With the hard work we’ve put in the last two years, things have started to pay off,” Davis said.

Billie is among those hard workers, something Davis witnessed immediately at a tryout. In an attempt to attract enough players to the program to add a JV team, Davis held open tryouts for girls who were not already part of the program. He said six girls showed up. Because some girls arrived a few minutes late, Davis had all six run “suicide drills,” or in other words, a lot of running.

“We ran four suicides. After the second one, (Billie) was the only one who stayed. The other girls left,” Davis said.

Billie carried that hard work ethic into the season.

“Her hard work and her determination works good for her,” Davis said.

The program ended up not having enough players to field a JV team, but the varsity squad was deep, talented and mostly young, with just two seniors. Billie was among the subs who provided quality time when she got in.

“She came off the bench and gave us some good minutes,” Davis said. “She played hard, played tough, but for someone new to the program and to an organized team, she had to make some adjustments, but she adjusted pretty fine.”

Davis sees Billie’s role increasing next season, which should be another strong one.

“As far as going forward, she’ll earn some more playing time,” he said.

Coach Tavirus Davis and sophomore forward Jacelyn Billie helped the Hollywood Hills High School basketball team post a 16-7 record this year. It was the program’s best record in more than 15 years. (Photo Kevin Johnson)
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