a male basketball player with his mouth open

Monroe County’s boys basketball teams gave fans competitive games to enjoy all season long, especially in their in-county matchups. 

Key West finished on top this season with an 11-12 record, including a postseason win against Sunset and sweeps of Marathon and Coral Shores. Though it once was the expectation that the larger-school Conchs defeat their smaller in-county opponents, that has not been the case for several years. However, the late Dexter Butler’s leadership led his young squad in the right direction. Without a single senior on their roster and only one junior in the starting lineup, the Conchs look to grow even stronger in the coming seasons.

Marathon, 7-9, managed to pick up steam as the season wore on. The Fins lost their first two games against Coral Shores as well as both against Key West, yet managed a win in their third go at the Hurricanes. Though Marathon graduates three starters, their bench is young yet experienced, including a pair of middle schoolers who saw significant playing time during the season. 

Coral Shores finished 7-13 with two of their wins against neighboring Marathon. The ’Canes will certainly feel the loss of a senior-heavy roster, but have plenty of talented juniors and underclassmen waiting to fill in the spots on the lineup. 

Photos by Barry Gaukel, Doug Finger and Grace Andrew

James Osborne
Sophomore, Key West 
Shooting guard

Key West’s James Osborne averaged a stellar 17.1 points and 2.3 assists per game for the Conchs, shooting with 49% accuracy and improving with each game he played. Coach Dexter Butler had plenty of praise for his young shooting guard, saying, “James had a phenomenal sophomore campaign this season as he led the way offensively and really took a huge leap forward with his ball handling, passing, and how can I not mention scoring. With so much more potential to tap into, the sky is truly the limit.”

Coral Shores Donovan Thiery (0) looks to pass against Marathon High School at Coral Shores Tuesday, December 12, 2023. The Canes went on to win 70-61. Photo by Doug Finger

Donovan Thiery
Sophomore, Coral Shores 

Coral Shores sophomore Donovan Thiery led his team in both scoring, averaging 14.4 points per game, and shooting percentage, with 52% accuracy. The talented guard is deadly all over the court, with the ability to sink a three as easily as he can dunk the ball. His coaches were particularly pleased with his strong performances at key times throughout the season.

Demarcus Deroche
Freshman, Key West 

Demarcus Deroche averaged 10.3 points per game with a 64% field goal percentage. His dominance in the paint is illustrated by his 7.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. When Deroche joined the Conchs midseason, head coach Dexter Butler said he “gave us a missing piece to our puzzle,” adding that the freshman is “a special kind of athlete, with the ability to dominate in the paint for the next three years.” 

Kameron Roberts
Junior, Key West 
Point guard

Conchs junior Kameron Roberts averaged 9.8 points and nearly 2 assists per game offensively. With 1.4 steals per game, he proved to be a formidable defender as well. “Kameron had another solid season for us – he is always all over the court, making timely shots when we need them and always ready to play,” said coach Dexter Butler. “This will be a huge senior season for him.”

Adrian Cruz
Senior, Marathon 
Shooting guard

Marathon’s Adrian Cruz scored 322 points this season for a career total of 487. He was credited with 69 assists as well. Described by coach Jim Murphy as “a leader on and off the court,” Cruz finished his 60-game career with the Fins with a standout senior campaign. 

Xavier Grant
Senior, Marathon 
Point guard

Grant added 244 points to make it a career 302 for the Fins in his senior season. In addition to what coach Jim Murphy described as “many game-changing threes in big games,” Grant accumulated 105 rebounds to keep the ball in Marathon’s possession. 

Coral Shores Ayden Lane (4) passes the ball against Marathon High School at Coral Shores Tuesday, December 12, 2023. The Canes went on to win 70-61. Photo by Doug Finger

Ayden Lane
Junior, Coral Shores 

Described by the Coral Shores coaching staff as “a consistent tough competitor,” Ayden Lane led the ’Canes in both offensive and defensive rebounds. The junior forward averaged 11 points and 2.4 assists per game, making him an all-around solid player.

Coral Shores AJ Johnson (25) shoots the ball against Marathon High School at Coral Shores Tuesday, December 12, 2023. The Canes went on to win 70-61. Photo by Doug Finger

Artorious “AJ” Johnson
Senior, Coral Shores 

Praised by his coaches for his hard-playing style, AJ Johnson was key for the Hurricanes in locking down their opponents on defense. Johnson was second in rebounding for Coral Shores and he used his athleticism and will to win to give his team a spark when it was most needed.

Yaniel Garcia
Senior, Marathon 

Garcia, a first-year varsity player, stepped up big-time for Marathon, scoring 217 points and earning 27 steals. The only Fin to start all 27 games this season, Garcia was a dependable workhorse for Marathon’s defense.

Tracy McDonald
Tracy McDonald fled to the Keys from the frozen mountains of Pennsylvania hours after graduating from college and never looked back. She is a second generation coach and educator, and has taught in the public school system for over 25 years. She and her husband met at a beginning teacher meeting in 1997 and have three children born and raised in Monroe County. In her free time, McDonald loves flea markets, historical fiction and long runs in the heat.