Gonzalez finished the night with more than half of his team’s points (28) while also pulling down eight boards, dishing out two assists and blocking two shots. Simoza went down with an injured right knee in Gardens’ district championship game victory over Carol City last week and had an MRI earlier in the day on Thursday.
“I’m the leader on this team so it was up to me to pick us up tonight with Alvaro not here,” said Gonzalez. “It’s all about us sticking together and stepping up our game and if I have to carry this team back to Lakeland again, that’s what I’ll do.”
“The irony is that it was a year ago right about now that we lost Gian Clavell who was averaging 18 points a game and we went on to win a state title,” said Gardens head coach Marcos Molina who saw his team improve to 22-5. “Alvaro was averaging 18 a game as well and while we’re still hoping maybe he can come back, we’re preparing to move on without him. I was proud of our kids tonight. We really stepped things up defensively and played good lockdown defense which reflects in the final score.”
Springs, making its first regional appearance since 2007, finished 13-14 and was led by Victor Troya with 14 points.
HG (22-5): Gonzalez 28, Huertas 7, Sanchez 6, Leonardo 6, Kurnick 4, Frias 2, Scilingo 2. MS (13-14): Troya 14, Fisher 5, Olivares 5, Reinvel 3, Thomsas 2, Adlerate 2. Halftime: HG 26-12. Three-pointers: Troya 2, Olivares, Reinvel, Leonardo. Rebounds: Gonzalez 8, Leonardo 8. Assists: Huertas 5. Steals: Huertas 4
• Region 4-6A quarterfinal — Norland 48, Archbishop McCarthy 39: Norland boys’ basketball moved one step closer in its quest for back-to-back Class 6A state championships as the Vikings outlasted Archbishop McCarthy.
Vikings head coach Lawton Williams described the regional quarterfinal victory as a “sloppy” one, but he’ll take it over the alternative.
“Playoffs aren’t about style points; you get the ‘W’ and move on,” Williams said. “We still have things we have to work on, like limiting turnovers, but we just have to keep winning and moving on.”
Archbishop McCarthy remained within striking distance for most of the game, but the Vikings’ signature defense broke the Mavericks down in the fourth quarter to move Norland into the regional semifinals.
Key shots from beyond the arc kept Archbishop McCarthy in the game early on, but turnover after turnover coupled with fading shot accuracy as the game wore on doomed the Mavericks against the aggressive Norland defense.
Vikings center Tyrell Williams posted 10 rebounds and added eight points to go along with guard Zachary Johnson’s game-high 11 points.
NOR (22-5): McKnight 7, Johnson 11, Roberts 4, Henry 8, Huell 2, Williams 8, Deceus 3, Jean-Baptiste 2, Mike 1, McCrea 2. ABM (18-8): Moya 8, Thorn 10, Talbot 7, Richard 8, McBride 2, Duren 2, Arias 1. Halftime: NOR 21-16. Three-pointers: Thorn 2, McKnight. Rebounds: Williams 10. Assists: Johnson 5. Steals: Johnson 4. Technical Fouls: Bedward.
• Region 4-6A quarterfinal — Pembroke Pines Charter 80, Northwestern 71: the Northwestern Bulls could do no wrong in the first 16 minutes of play, countering every rally by Pembroke Pines en route to a 40-32 halftime lead.