West Side Christian basketball coach Randall Miller relived a good news, bad news moment that happened during preseason practice. During a 3-on-3 man-to-man drill, Stephfan Tabe, a 6-foot-4 junior, took a dribble handoff and drove baseline. Instead of laying the ball gently into the basket, he powered home a tomahawk dunk.
Backboards are very expensive. Coach Miller found out exactly how much one costs when Tabe shattered the glass that day.
“For me, it was, ‘Oh, boy.’ At our gym, we don’t have side goals so we’re already a little limited in what we can do. In my mind, I’m already restructuring the next practice,” Miller recalled. “The kids were really excited until the next day. The next day they were like, ‘Aw man, I don’t like this at all.’ But, it was pretty cool. It doesn’t happen every day.
“I did tell him, next one, he’s coming up there with me the whole day while I put that sucker up.”
Quite a few outstanding athletes have suited up for the Warriors through the years. Not many have displayed Tabe’s natural-born athletic ability.
“Back in the days when we played in the 7AA-South, there were some pretty athletic kids. He’d certainly be in the top … He might be the most athletic one,” Miller said. “We’ve had some who were athletic but not quite as big. We’ve had some pretty good athletes come through here.”
Tabe’s raw athletic gifts alone would make him a factor each night for the Warriors. But, he told his coach two years ago, he didn’t want to be a 6-4 athlete. He wanted to be a 6-4 guard.
“He said, ‘I really do want to try to learn some footwork, become a guard and look at that at the next level.’ Of course, that’s what he’d have to do,” Miller said of Tabe’s goal of playing collegiate basketball. “He put in a lot of work into his footwork. We have him coming off some curls and some cuts to the 3-point line to raise up and shoot. I’m guessing he’s probably shooting 35 percent on the year from three. He’s shooting it pretty well.
“He’ll have to work on some ball handling stuff to be a two (guard) at the college level. We’ve got to get stronger, yet. But, when kids shoot up that fast, sometimes kids have to catch up to their growth spurt. He’s starting to round into that some.”
Tabe has displayed more of an all-around game this season. Defensively, he patrols the paint and controls the glass. Offensively, he’s shown perimeter shooting and driving skills to complement his post-up game.
Tabe has averaged 26 points and 9.2 rebounds in leading the Warriors to a 13-3 start to the season going into Tuesday‘s game.
Considering he didn’t really get into the sport until the eighth grade, Tabe’s play has polished up quite nicely.
“He’s come such a long way in a short amount of time,” said Miller. “My desire for him is he keeps that desire, keeps getting better and not be satisfied with where he his right now. If he does that, he’ll easily be one of the best players to ever come through our school.”
Miller believes Tabe and the Warriors could contend for a title this season.
“If he commits to being a really locked in defensive force, so disruptive, doing the little things right with his motor running all the time, we can contend for the state championship,” he said.
Oh, and Tabe should perhaps focus on one more thing. Maybe he could take it easy on the rims in the Warrior Center.
“He’s a smart kid,” Miller said. “He’s not trying to break another backboard because he remembers what practice was like. There was a lot of sprinting to one end and not shooting. So, that’s no fun. He’s smart. He’s going out of his way not to break ours.”