Just when it looked like the Deerfield Beach boys’ basketball team would finally settle some old scores with its nemesis Blanche Ely, Tigers 6-8 forward Khalil Thomas found another way to break the Bucks’ hearts.
Thomas had a game-high 21 points and 12 rebounds and capped a BCAA Big 8 Tournament MVP performance with two dunks and a blocked shot down the stretch to help the reigning Class 7A state champion Tigers turn back a valiant Bucks fourth-quarter rally and edge Deerfield Beach 65-63 in the BCAA Big 8 championship game at Fort Lauderdale High School on Saturday night.
“We were beating the drum so we had to do what we had to get the win,” Thomas said. “Deerfield Beach played us tough but this shows that we don’t give up and that we need to play hard from start to finish. This is my second Tournament MVP Trophy. I don’t know where I’m going to put it. I’ll probably put it on my fridge.”
Richard Lee had 16 points and Lance Tejada III added 10 points for the MaxPreps No. 16 Tigers (20-1).
Bucks guard Terence Johnson, whose layup put Deerfield ahead 63-61with 2:00 left for the first time since the first quarter, had a chance to play hero for the Class 8A No. 2 Bucks (23-4) but his leaning three-point attempt at the buzzer went wide right, sealing the Tigers’ 11th straight victory over the Bucks and sending the Tigers’ bench spilling onto the floor.
Marcus Owens, who caught fire in the second half, and Johnson tied for a team-high 17 points for Deerfield.
Javaris Jenkins added 11 points and Vanderbilt Carpenter had 10.
Trailing 53-45 entering the fourth quarter, Deerfield Beach got the spark it desperately needed from Carpenter to stage a thrilling comeback attempt.
Carpenter led a 10-3 run to pull the Bucks within four, 59-55, with 4:20 left and then added four points and a steal from Thomas, which led to a layup by Johnson for a 63-61 Bucks lead with 1:56 left.
But Thomas helped the Tigers escape with their second consecutive Big 8 title with a dunk to tie the score 63-63 then blocked Carpenter’s driving layup with 47 seconds left before throwing down a two-handed putback dunk with 17 seconds left for the winning score.
“Deerfield had a great fourth quarter,” Lee said. “We slowed the game down when should have stayed uptempo after they started their comeback. Khalil was very big down the stretch. He helped us with the dunks and that big block. It’s always very competitive and emotional when we face Deerfield. They bring their fans and so do we.”
• BCAA Big 8 boys championship – Blanche Ely 65, Deerfield Beach 63 – ELY (20-1): Gossier 5, Thomas 21, Tejada 10, Lee 16, Allen 6, Cameron 7. DB (23-4): Carpenter 10, Joshua Williams 4, Jenkins 11, Owens 17, T. Johnson 17, Huntley 2. Halftime: ELY 38-26. Three-pointers: Carpenter, Jenkins, Owens, Tejada 1, Lee 3, Cameron 2. Rebounds: Thomas 12.