Boys’ Basketball

Five teams could advance to states

 

Special to The Miami Herald

Take your pick.

You can watch defending Class 8A state champion Hialeah Gardens, 2012 Class 6A state champ Norland or reigning GMAC champ South Miami.

Or, if you prefer, you can go to Ransom Everglades to watch Cal recruit Sam Singer or drop by Archbishop Carroll to see U-Conn recruit Amida Brimah.

So many options, such little time because, starting with Thursday’s regional finals, there are just three more days to see boys’ basketball in Miami this season.

After that, it’s the state Final Four in Lakeland, where, as of now, Miami Dade County is in the running to win as many as five state titles.

Here is a closer look at which Miami-Dade teams have the best chances at getting to Lakeland:

CLASS 8A

•  Favorite: South Miami. The Cobras have perhaps the most balanced roster in town, led by 6-9 center Antravious Simmons, a Virginia Commonwealth recruit.

•  Dark horse: Hialeah Gardens. The champs didn’t even make the GMAC field after two losses to American. But now that they have disposed of the Patriots, perhaps Gardens can rise again, backed by center Alvaro Simoza and guard Adrian Gonzalez.

•  Noteworthy: A tall and talented Carol City team will have an interesting quarterfinal matchup with Miami High, led by savvy point guard Allen Baez and 6-9 center Wadley Mompremier, an Ohio University recruit. South Miami’s road to the regional finals would be through Coral Reef, led by Boston recruit Cedric Hankerson and Stetson’s Brian Glasford, and then either Palmetto or Columbus.

CLASS 6A

•  Favorite: Norland. With Lawton Williams in charge, this is always one of the best-coached teams. It wins with balanced scoring and intense defense.

•  Dark horse: Northwestern. The Bulls lost all three of their games to Norland this season, but two of those were by five points. Williams said the Bulls have gotten better each game.

•  Noteworthy: Norland starts four juniors and a freshman. “We’re very shaky right now,” Williams said.

CLASS 4A

•  Favorite: Ransom. The Raiders are 17-0 when Singer and Trey Mourning are both playing. They have yet to play Archbishop Carroll but would host the Bulldogs in the regional finals.

•  Dark horse: Archbishop Carroll. Brimah, a 6-10, 220-pound senior center who transferred in from Pace, is averaging 15 points, 11 rebounds and 6 blocks. The Bulldogs (23-4) have won 13 in a row.

•  Noteworthy: Booker T. Washington is a potential threat to Carroll in the semifinals. Gulliver would host Ransom in the semifinals. Gulliver is led by guards Antonio Ralat and Enrique Lafuente, but the Raiders also have Japhet Kadji, a 6-7 senior guard and brother of UM starter Kenny Kadji.

CLASS 3A

•  Favorite: Florida Christian. Wyatt Sikora, a 6-10 junior center, could be the difference on a team that also includes forwards 6-5 and 6-7 tall. The Patriots (12-13) are finally healthy after enduring a tough schedule.

•  Dark horse: Archbishop Curley. The Knights (21-6) are led by 6-11, 225-pound center Zach Brown, an eighth-grader who led the team in scoring (15) and rebounding (13).

•  Noteworthy: Westminster Christian gets potent shooting from guards Diego Miller and Matt McLean. Miami Country Day is a sleeper in a balanced class of Miami teams.

CLASS 2A

•  Favorite: Champagnat Catholic. After making it to the state final last year, the Lions graduated 6-11 center Tonye Jekiri, now playing for UM. The Lions, though, are still athletic and deep.

•  Dark horse: Westwood Christian. Last year, Westwood reached the regional finals for the first time in the school’s 50-year history before losing to Champagnat by six points. This year, Westwood lost to Champagnat by eight. If they meet in the regional finals, Westwood would get home court at their small and loud gym.

•  Noteworthy: It was a different era, but quarterfinal opponents Miami Christian (2000, 2002) and Calusa Prep (2006) combined to win three state titles last decade.

Read more Miami-Dade High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

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