A collision on the way to the basket left Miami High senior guard Amanda Mendoza a bloody mess during Friday night’s GMAC girls’ basketball final.
She had blood dripping from the top of her forehead.
She was dizzy.
She needed help from the team trainer just to walk off the court and later the locker room.
By the end of the game, Mendoza was smiling and holding up a gold medal alongside her teammates.
Mendoza missed the middle portion of the game, but returned in the second half and helped the Stingarees come back to beat visiting Norland 52-49 to secure their second GMAC title and first since 2010. The two titles are the only GMAC titles for the school in girls’ sports. It was Norland’s first loss to a Florida team this season.
“It was all about winning, and nothing else mattered,” Mendoza said. “We’ve been waiting since freshman year for a chance like this. This gives us a whole lot of confidence and momentum.”
Mendoza sustained a cut to the top of her head while driving for a layup in the second quarter. After the game, Mendoza said she felt as though she hit her head with an opposing player’s tooth causing the cut. The injury forced her to wear a headband-like bandage upon her return.
In the final moments, Mendoza shed the bandage.
Mendoza drew fouls, dove for loose balls, once even nearly crashing head first into the stands. She finished with nine points and three steals.
Miami High (16-4) trailed by nine at halftime but rallied thanks largely to Beatrice Mompremier’s 17 points and 16 rebounds. But Mendoza’s return complemented Mompremier’s inside dominance and helped Miami High’s backcourt hold off a late Norland rally.
Norland’s Brittany Dinkins finished with 17 points and hit a jumper with a foot on the three-point line that only cut Miami High’s lead to 50-49 with less than a minute left. The Vikings (22-3) then gained possession with 15.6 seconds left when Mendoza was tied up for a jump ball.
“We had never beaten Norland in our careers, so we wanted to make this a special year,” said senior Tyneisha Johnson, who finished with nine points. “This is a building block for us. We played as one tonight.”
NOR (22-3): Ford 14, Dinkins 17, K. Roberts 2, N. Roberts 14, McCoy 2. MHS (16-4): Reid 6, Mendoza 9, Sweeting 1, Johnson 9, Kimbrough 10, Mompremier 17. Half: N 25-16. Three-pointers: Dinkins, N. Roberts, Johnson, Kimbrough. Rebounds: Mompremier 16. Assists: Kimbrough 5.