September 29, 2022

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Sports Really Satisfies

DME Academy looks to become national powerhouse at 2022 GEICO Nationals

DAYTONA BEACH — Amiya Evans and Sydney Shaw arrived in Daytona Beach as high school seniors from different corners of the state, but they did so with the exact same goals in mind.

They sought to focus exclusively on basketball and capture a national championship for a program that played its first game just five seasons ago — DME Sports Academy.

“When people are too close to you, it won’t always be a good thing,” said Shaw, a point guard who competed for FHSAA and national titles during her tenure at Miami Country Day. “A lot of people want to have a hand in your success. I wanted to be somewhere to prepare for college and somewhere that would push me.

“A lot of people called me crazy for it, but at the end of the day, my team’s going to nationals.”

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Erin Toller, Sacred Heart Academy, battles Amiya Evans of Tampa Bay Tech, for the rebound. Evans is now a star player for DME.

DME’s team, ranked 14th in the nation by MaxPreps with a 26-3 record, will travel to Fort Myers and face Montverde Academy at 10:30 a.m. Friday on ESPNU. This is the first time the program has qualified for the invitation-only tournament, pitting the nation’s elite basketball teams head-to-head.

DME packed its schedule with heavy hitters, defeating five schools that competed for FHSAA state championships (Miami High, St. Thomas Aquinas, Plantation American Heritage, Lake Highland Prep and Cardinal Mooney). It previously defeated Montverde 67-59 at the Tampa Bay Christmas Invitational on New Year’s Day.

It’s the culmination of a meteoric rise for DME Sports, whose multimillion-dollar, multi-sport complex was once a vacant warehouse behind Daytona Beach International Airport on Bellevue Extension Avenue.

Sydney Shaw is one of several star athletes for local powerhouse DME.

DME, which still does not have a nickname for its athletic teams, does not currently field any natives of the Daytona Beach area on its girls’ basketball roster. Head coach Michael Panaggio hopes that changes again, but attributes the past additions of Lexi Duckett (Father Lopez) and Isys Grady (Mainland) as catalysts for the project.

“That first-year team and second-year team were both extremely important to getting us off the ground and starting a tradition,” Panaggio said. “It’s hard to sell when you’ve never been there, never played in big games, never had kids come out of your school.