Reigning Class 7A state champion Blanche Ely, looking every bit the MaxPreps No. 13 boys’ basketball team in the nation, used a third quarter defensive blitz that buried Class 6A No. 6 Pines Charter 76-52 in the BCAA Big 8 boys’ semifinals on Friday.
The Tigers (19-1) turned up the intensity on their vaunted press during a third-quarter dunk fest that pushed a 34-21 halftime lead into a commanding 56-35 advantage at Fort Lauderdale High School.
Ely defensive stalwart Dallas Cameron, who helped the reigning Big 8 champion Tigers force 19 steals, said some Twitter messages provided the Tigers with added motivation.
“We were only up by 13 points at the half, so we knew we had to turn it up,” Cameron said. “Pines Charter challenged us, people on Twitter were talking about beating us by 20 points so we wanted to show them it would be a 40-point turnaround.”
Ely (19-1, Source Hoops Class 7A No. 1) advances to face archrival Deerfield Beach (23-2) in the Big 8 championship game Saturday at 8 p.m.
Deerfield Beach trailed Cardinal Gibbons 28-27 at the half but held on for 60-59 victory in the other semifinal.
Terence Johnson hit the go ahead three-pointer for the Bucks with 1:39 left.
Ely stamped its finals ticket in the third quarter behind sharpshooter Richard Lee (20 points), who hit back-to-back three-pointers before Darrion Allen and Khalil Thomas threw down thunderous back-to-back dunks that gave Ely a 47-26 edge with 3:33 left.
Thomas finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Allen added 15 points, Cameron had 10 points, seven assists and three steals, and Lance Tejada added eight points and seven assists for the Tigers.
Justin Satchell scored a game-high 21 points and Prince Ali added 19 points for the Jaguars (17-3).
Blanche Ely used a 15-2 run bridging the end of the first quarter and into the second session to take a 27-14 lead.
Lee knocked back-to-back three-pointers and Tejada converted a three-point play for a 13-point cushion with 7:04 left in the second quarter.
“In the third quarter, we took control,” Tigers coach Melvin Randall said. “We were kind of laid-back a little bit in the first half instead of playing them up tight and playing aggressive defense. As a result, we picked it up. Pines Charter is a well-coached team and to play the way we played, sends a good message to us.”
BCAA Big 8 boys’ semifinals — Blanche Ely 76, Pines Charter 52 - Ely (19-1): Lee 20, Gossier 5, Thomas 16, Tejada 8, Labadi 2, Cameron 10, Allen 15. PPC (17-3): Satchell 21, Denbow 4, Ali 19, Cheatham 5, Meade 2, Graves. Half: Ely 34-21. Three-pointers: Lee 4, Satchell 3, Denbow 1, Ali 1. Rebounds: Thomas 12. Assists: Tejada, Cameron 7. Steals: Allen 4, Cameron 3.