Fels senior does little things that mean a lot

Senior forward Sincere Palimore-Shepard is a vital, all-around player for the team.

Sincere Palimore-Shepard has been a huge force in helping the Fels basketball team compete for the top spot in their division. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Every basketball player wants to be the star. And Sincere Palimore-Shepard is no different.

Palimore-Shepard is a senior forward on the Samuel Fels High School basketball team, and when he started his career, he wanted to be the guy who piled up massive numbers of points and guided the team to a lot of wins.

The first part didn’t exactly materialize.

The second part is working out quite nicely.

But it took a little nudge to make Palimore-Shepard realize you can be a key player without being the guy who scores every point.

“I was a little upset because when the season started, I wasn’t starting,” Palimore-Shepard, a Summerdale resident, said. “I found out that I had to work harder and do everything, not just worry about scoring but everything.

“I see myself as an all-around player. The team expects me to play hard, rebound, take charges, sacrifice to be a player who is ready to do anything it takes to win. If I get a chance to score the ball, I’ll do it, but I’m out there to do whatever it takes.”

That formula has been good for Fels.

The Panthers lost most of the core from last year’s team to graduation, so few expected a great season. But thanks to quick learning and some hard work, the Panthers finished the regular season 14–4, 8–3 in Public League play.

“I know a lot of people didn’t believe in us, but we all knew, at least after we started playing, that we could be good,” Palimore-Shepard said. “Fels is starting to do really well every year. We’re building something. We’ve been going to the playoffs every year. I don’t think people know that we’re doing so well, but we are definitely doing well and picking up Ws.”

Palimore-Shepard isn’t just happy about the Panthers’ position in the standings.

Despite his role change, he’s enjoying himself just as much as he would if he were piling up 30 points per game. And he’s happy to do it because it’s exactly what the Panthers and coach Mark Heimerdinger are asking of him.

“I love my role on this team because it’s something we need,” Palimore-Shepard said. “The thing I want to do more than anything is win. I have a lot of roles on this team. Defense is big. Scoring when I can is big. And of course I have to get the ball to Chris Brown, because he’s our top scorer and he really helps us. When I pass it to him, I usually get an assist.”

Now that the regular season is over, Palimore-Shepard is ready for the tournament, where every game could be his final high school game.

The Public League is once again a balanced league, which means Palimore-Shepard could watch his team make a long run, but the Panthers could also find themselves losing in the opening round.

That’s a scenario he’s hoping to avoid.

“I think we could be really good,” Palimore-Shepard said. “It’s just about doing what we’re supposed to do and taking care of business.”

Palimore-Shepard has been playing basketball for as long as he can remember, and when he was younger, everything came easy to him.

But since he arrived at Fels, he has worked for everything.

In the fall, he even joined another sport to make sure he’d be ready for basketball season.

“I ran cross country,” Palimore-Shepard said. “I really liked it. I did it mostly to get in shape, but I had fun with it. It did make me better.”

Improvement is still on his mind.

Next year, Palimore-Shepard hopes to continue his basketball career, possibly at the junior college level so he can continue to hone his skills while gaining more attention from college scouts.

“I’m still getting better, so I’m not sure where I’ll end up,” Palimore-Shepard said. “I really want to keep playing and get an education.”

He doesn’t know his destination, but he does know his focus of studies.

“I want to go into sports management and someday be an NBA scout,” he said. “That’s if basketball doesn’t work out, I can still stay in the game. I play (an NBA video game) and build a good team. I’m pretty good at doing it.”

And he’ll work just as hard in that field as he does on the court.

“Coach told me what he wants from me, so I’ve been trying to go out and do it every game,” Palimore-Shepard said. “The harder I work, the better I’ll do and the better we’ll do. I couldn’t be happier with the way we’re playing.” ••