PORT ISABEL, Texas (ValleyCentral) – Port Isabel’s ensemble of three brothers in boy’s basketball has them in line to win its second straight district title.

Christian, Cleveland and Jeffrey Smith are three of the starting five Tarpons this season. A new year means more experience for the Smiths.

Last year’s bi-district champion team was senior-heavy. Expected to slide in district play, the Tarpons picked up right where they left off. They are 25-4 (11-1 in district play) with two weeks left in the regular season.

“One of the good things about this team is that they’re able to adapt and learn and find ways to win,” said Gilbert Rodriguez, Port Isabel Varsity Boys Head Coach. “That’s been one of the impressive things about them, you know, being so young.”

The Smiths started playing basketball at a young age. Jeffrey, the oldest of the three, stood out early on compared to kids his age.

Jeffrey Smith, junior, sets up the offense vs. La Feria.

Separated by two years, his two twin brothers, Christian and Cleveland, knew they wanted to play from watching him.

“Me and Christian saw him, but we didn’t get to play a lot because we were much smaller than him,” said Cleveland Smith, sophomore guard. “Jefferey at a young age started off really good.”

Two big inspirations growing up for the three brothers included their father and grandfather. Whether it was a game of ‘one-on-one’ or ‘king of the court,’ those two role models pushed them to be great. 

Cleveland Smith, sophomore, and Christian Smith, sophomore, discuss the offense coming out of a timeout.

Of course, sibling rivalries always bring out the best in each other. As time has gone on, each brother has their own strength when it’s time to take the floor.

“Defense? I got the best defense,” said Christian Smith, sophomore guard.

“I think I got the most athleticism,” said Jeffrey Smith, junior guard.

“At a young age, Jeffrey had a little bit more height on us, so I’d probably say him, but now, I’m saying me in one-on-one,” said Cleveland Smith.

All three brothers are big keys to unlocking Port Isabel’s success this season. While it’s a special moment for them and their family to play together, they understand it’s more than just them.

They understand the success from this season is a team effort. They said “they play travel basketball with most of the guys on the team.”

Doing so has created a strong sense of communication and chemistry when the Tarpons take the floor. 

Christian Smith and Cleveland Smith walk to the bench during a timeout.

Coach Rodriguez knows his team has come a long way since the beginning of the season. He also knows just how special it is coaching three brothers.

“Their competitive spirit is super high and just watching them grow has been really special,” said Rodriguez.

The Tarpons take on Harmony School Innovation (Brownsville) at 8 p.m, Friday, Feb. 10.