Miami-Dade girls’ basketball preview

For Lourdes duo Tiffany Suarez and Kiara Palmer, final task is in focus


Longtime teammates Tiffany Suarez and Kiara Palmer will play Division I hoops — after trying to lead Lourdes to a state title.

Lourdes basketball stars Tiffany Suarez and Kiara Palmer will finish a journey Wednesday morning that began when they were 4 years old.

The longtime teammates in high school and travel basketball will each sign with a Division I college, securing the next step in their careers.

“Tiffany and I have played basketball together on one team or another since we were kids, and that’s pretty rare,” Palmer said. “I’m so happy it happened for us — it’s pretty amazing.”

Suarez, a 6-foot senior guard, will sign with the University of Virginia and Palmer, a 6-foot forward, will sign with Rhode Island.

But Lourdes’ talented duo won’t celebrate too long.

Suarez and Palmer have to get back to work on the last goal they hope to accomplish as teammates.

They hope to lead Lourdes, which returns a squad that is at the top among favorites in Miami-Dade County to return to Lakeland this season in Class 8A, back to state for the first time since 2010, when the Bobcats were state runners-up in Suarez and Palmer’s freshman seasons.

“Getting back has literally been our only goal since that year,” said Palmer, who averaged 11.2 points and 16.2 rebounds last season.

Losses to Dr. Krop in the regional finals each of the past two seasons have denied Lourdes a trip back.

This season, although Krop is still rated among the county’s top teams, the transfers of key players has opened the door for Lourdes and a few others to make a run at Dade’s automatic berth in Region 4-8A.

Reigning Miami Herald Class 8A-6A Athlete of the Year Ieshia Small moved to Tallahassee in the offseason and will play for defending Class 2A champion FAMU after leading Krop to a state runner-up finish last season. Guards Brandi Harrington and Maika’la McCloud transferred from Krop to Monsignor Pace as well. The Lightning still has a solid squad led by sister forwards N’Kiru and Ogechi Anyagaligbo.

Miami High figures to be the strongest contender to battle Lourdes and Krop for the top spot.

The Stingarees return a talented backcourt led by junior Amanda Mendoza, Terri Kimbrough and Tynesha Johnson. But their biggest asset is 6-4 sophomore forward Beatrice Mompremier, who figures to improve upon a breakout freshman season.

“By the end of the season, I think [Mompremier] is going to be ranked among the top sophomores in the country,” Miami High coach Sam Baumgarten said. “She’s going to give us a huge advantage inside against a lot of teams.”

Miami High, Krop and Lourdes, however, aren’t the only contenders in Class 8A.

Ferguson lost its top player, junior guard Tabitha Gonzalez, to an ACL injury recently, but still has a squad strong enough to battle Lourdes and South Miami for a playoff spot.

And American figures to push Krop for its district title.

Norland is the favorite in Class 6A with star guard Brittany Dinkins and forward Nia Roberts returning. Harrington and McCloud’s presence at Pace will give the Spartans a great chance to challenge Gulliver for Dade’s top spot in Class 4A.

Miami Country Day returns forward Onika Swaby and with junior guard Danielle Minot could have a breakthrough year in Class 3A.

Read more Miami-Dade High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

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