By: Wells Dusenbury
Much like high school football, Friday nights are one of the biggest dates in the week for high school basketball. During the winter, it's normal for teams to play at least every other Friday over the course of the season.
Palm Beach Lakes is once again one of the top teams in the area and has devised a way to never lose a game on Friday.
They don't play any games on Friday.
Why? Meet senior Maxwell Caines.
The six-foot-three center is a part of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Members respect the Sabbath on Saturday instead of Sunday, meaning he must be in hhis home from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.
As a result, Caines would be unable to play in any basketball games scheduled on Friday night.
So when Caines first came to Palm Beach Lakes as a freshman, he addressed the unique hurdle with the coaching staff.
"When they first explained it to me, it was more like 'Hey, can you talk it out with your pastor? Maybe he can helped you out and let you play,' said Caines. "But it doesn't work that way."
"Luckily [the coaching staff] was open to what I had to say and I was glad about that and they helped me change all the games."
Fortunately for Caines, he had a head coach who knew where he was coming from. Rams head man Lorenzo Hands was raised as a Jehovah's Witness and knows the challenges that can arise due to one's beliefs.
"I understand how difficult the religion is and the things you have to deal with," said Hands.
"I commend him, Max and his family, for sticking to their beliefs, their virtues, and their values and things, and that's what we need at Palm Beach Lakes."
"Everyone supports him here and we understand and we knew that was his religion and how strong he felt about it."
So for the past three years, Palm Beach Lakes has scheduled around Friday nights so Caines can be part of the team. Surprisingly, coaches around the area have been on board with accommodating the Rams.
"I have to commend all the coaches in Palm Beach County," said Hands. "They've been very supportive. Anytime we've asked to switch a game from a Friday to a Thursday they've been very cooperative and that speaks volumes for the coaches here and the respect they have for us and the respect we have for them."
Caines knows the sacrifice and effort his coaching staff has made for him, and he's making sure he keeps up his end of the bargain.
"It makes me want to work hard because to me, it feels like I owe [Hands] one everyday."
That isn't to say it's completely smooth sailing. The Rams run into an unavoidable road bump in two weeks. The team is set to play in the MLK Tournament in Ft. Lauderdale, with one of their games scheduled on Saturday at 3:30.
Since that game occurs on the Sabbath, Caines will be unable to suit up.
"It's frustrating, but I trust these guys and think they can pull it out," said Caines. "They understand, 'Max is down' and someone else has to step up."
While missing the MLK Tournament is relatively minor in regards to the Rams season, there's one potential game down the road that most certainly is not: the State Championship.
The 7A State Semifinals and Finals would be played on a Friday and Saturday, putting Caines in an incredible bind between his family on the court and his religious beliefs.
While playing in the State Championship is a hypothetical at this point, Caines already knows he wouldn't play in the game.
"It's so hard for me to say that," Caines said. "You have to work so hard to get to that point and you can't even play in the game. But the way my faith is, you just can't do it."
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