Behind a dominant 20-point, 16-rebound performance from center Antravious Simmons, the South Miami boys’ basketball team defeated Sagemont 48-42 in the championship game of the A-Rod Basketball Classic at Columbus.
After Sagemont had tied the game at 42 with a 10-2 run, South Miami point guard Jorge Perez-Laham connected on a nifty driving layup to give the Cobras the lead with 50 seconds to go.
South Miami (8-2) then forced two Sagemont turnovers and hit four of its last five free throws to put the game, and the tournament, away.
The Cobras are currently on a six-game winning streak since a 2-2 trip to Chicago for a tournament that consisted of some of the nation’s top teams.
Perez-Laham’s status was uncertain for the title game after he suffered a stinger on his left shoulder in the semifinal win against Booker T. Washington. The senior did not start, but entered the game in the second quarter and finished with 10 points and three assists.
“I was waiting for him to ask me if he was OK to get in,” coach Robert Doctor said. “He came up to me and said, ‘Coach, I want to help my team.’ … He got in, and he did a wonderful job down the stretch.”
Sagemont (6-1) simply had no answer inside for Simmons, who won tournament MVP honors.
The 6-9 Virginia Commonwealth recruit dominated the paint. He made his presence felt defensively with three blocks to go with his double-double of 20 and 16.
“I told him before we got here that Jorge might not play and that he needed to step it up,” Doctor said.
How did Simmons think he responded?
“I feel like I responded real good [Saturday]. I responded the way I feel I needed to to lead this team to victory,” Simmons said.
Sagemont’s Egor Koulechov, an Arizona State recruit, scored eight points within the Sagemont run that got the game tied. Twelve of Koulechov’s 18 points came in the fourth quarter, and he also added five rebounds on the night.
Koulechov made the all-tournament team along with Ransom’s Sam Singer, Booker T.’s Richie Spiller, Columbus’ Marquise Clark and Perez-Laham.
A-Rod Basketball Classic final — South Miami 48, Sagemont 42 – SM (8-2): Simmons 20, Lopez 4, Bartley 4, Cratit 6, Perez-Laham 10, Barney 4. SAGE (6-1): Koulechov 18, Kirby 9, Horne 4, DeLucia 6, Cooper 3, Jurko 2. Halftime: 21-21. Three-pointers: Perez-Laham 2, Koulechov 2, Kirby, DeLucia. Rebounds: Simmons 16. Assists: Bartley 6. Steals: Cooper 3. Blocks: Simmons 3.
Scoring the game’s first 10 points and starting on a 15-1 run against visiting Gulliver, Palmer Trinity never looked back and won 64-38 in a rivalry game between two of south Dade’s top private-school programs.
Five Falcons — Claire Hebb, Stephane Granada, Kyrah James, Samantha Smith and Janelle Gonzalez — scored at least eight points as Palmer Trinity hit Gulliver with a balanced attack that didn’t allow the Raiders to key in on any one player.
“That’s huge for us. We try to accomplish that,” said Palmer Trinity coach James Valle, who has his team off to a 9-1 start. “When people want to play us, it’s usually very hard to [play zone defense against] us because we have a lot of scorers.”
Hebb, a 5-9 sophomore forward, pitched in a double-double with a game-high 13 points and 10 rebounds. Granada, on top of dropping 11 points on the Raiders (5-2), was instrumental in running the offense and distributing the ball, leading her team with six assists.