Lourdes coach Chris McKeon called Friday night’s matchup against host Miami High “Round 1 of a heavyweight fight.”
Both teams, which will see each other at least once more this season — on Jan.19 — could meet again in the Class 8A postseason.
Lourdes took the first game 49-39 to capture the Holiday Classic, a three-day tournament consisting of eight teams from Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
Three players scored in double figures for the Bobcats (16-1), including tournament MVP Tiffany Suarez.
Senior forward Kiara Palmer finished with a double-double (14 points and 12 rebounds), and junior guard Melanie Jordan tacked on 10 points.
“I just think that we were trying to run our sets and get everything going, make sure we know our roles as players,” said Suarez, who tallied a game-high 17 points.
After one quarter the teams were tied at 12. Sophomore center Beatrice Mompremier collected six rebounds for Miami High through the first eight minutes and 14 overall.
Jordan, who played all 32 minutes, connected on a fast break for a three-point play to give the Bobcats their then-largest lead at 17-12 with 6:12 left in the second. But the Stingarees pulled within one a minute later.
When Suarez, a University of Virginia recruit, picked up her third foul with 3:07 remaining, Lourdes still managed a 10-1 run without her to close out the half with a 28-18 lead.
All 28 points scored by the Bobcats came from the trio of Suarez, Palmer and Jordan.
In the third quarter, Miami High (13-4) trailed by as many as 14 before countering with an 11-4 run to make it 36-29 with 1:53 to go.
“I feel we were very impatient with the basketball and we just fouled them too much,” Miami High coach Sam Baumgarten said. “You can’t give them more than 20 points from the free-throw line. That’s the first thing we tell our kids is ‘Don’t foul Lourdes,’ but we know we’ll see them again.”
Lourdes opened up the fourth with eight straight points before guard Amanda Mendoza’s three-pointer with a little under four minutes in the game. Terri Kimbrough scored a team-high nine points for Miami High. Tyresha Johnson added seven.
“When Beatrice got in foul trouble, it turned the whole complexion of the game,” McKeon said. “We were able to do some things without her. She’s a force, and when we don’t have to look for her, it opens things up for us.”
The Holiday Classic, held for the first time at Miami High’s renovated gymnasium, was previously the Junior Orange Bowl Classic. Suarez, Jordan and Palmer made the all-tournament team. Mendoza, Mompremier and Kimbrough earned the same honor for the Stingarees.
“I feel like we’re in a great place,” Palmer said. “Our main goal is to go to states. Nothing else matters but going to states.”
CHRISTINA DE NICOLA
LOU (16-1): Suarez 17, Palmer 14, Jordan 10, Farinas 4, Nunez 2, Buitrago 2. MH (13-4): Kimbrough 9, Mendoza 8, Johnson 7, Mompremier 7, Smith 4, Guerarro 2, Sweeting 2. Halftime: LOU 28-18. Three-pointers: Johnson 1, Kimbrough 1, Mendoza 1. Rebounds: Mompremier 14. Assists: Mendoza 3. Steals: Jordan 5. Blocks: Palmer 3.
Despite an inspirational effort to climb back into the semifinal game, the Hialeah Gardens boys’ basketball team will not repeat as Junior Orange Bowl Basketball Classic champions.