Miami High forward Melsheree Reid couldnt contain her tears.
Neither could Lourdes guard Tiffany Suarez.
Emotions ran high at the end of a classic girls basketball playoff game between the two rivals Saturday night at Belen Jesuit.
Reid, a hero surrounded by her teammates, moments after she made a layup with six seconds left that propelled Miami High to a 37-35 victory over Lourdes in the Region 4-8A final.
Suarez wept on the ground seconds after a would-be game-tying jumper at the buzzer clanged off the side of the rim ending the chances of the University of Virginia signee being able to finish her stellar career at the state final four.
Miami Highs fans, players and coaches rushed the court in celebration as the Stingarees (24-5) clinched their first trip to state since 2005 the last time they won a state title.
We came through when we needed it and Im just so happy we made it to state, Reid said. I knew I had to make that shot. When I made it I knew we were going to win.
Miami High will play Orlando Colonial Friday at The Lakeland Center in a Class 8A state semifinal at either 7 or 8:30 p.m.
This is unmeasurable, Miami High coach Sam Baumgarten said. This was a game for the ages.
Neither team led by more than five points at any point in the game. There were seven ties and 12 lead changes.
Suarez, one of Miami-Dade Countys best players the past four seasons, had a stellar game in spite of not being able to tie the game at the end. Suarez scored 22 of Lourdes 35 points.
I felt like we had a good season, and that we had the better team, Suarez said. We came back and I thought the shot was going to go in. I felt like it was meant to be for us this year, but it didnt happen.
Miami High center Beatrice Mompremier finished with 12 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks.
But Baumgarten knew his team would need contributions from several role players to beat Lourdes (27-2), a veteran team that was playing in the regional finals for the sixth consecutive season.
Two connected for the winning score as senior CaMaya Pierre drew away the defense and found Reid open near the basket for a layup.
Senior forward Tacoria Smith provided tough defense against Lourdes guards from the outset as she and Reid each finished with four steals.
This was a total team effort by everyone and we knew if we could put this kind of defensive effort we were going to win, Smith said.
The Stingarees defense neutralized another one of the countys best as it held Lourdes center Kiara Palmer, a Long Island University signee, to only two points. Palmer then fouled out with 4:44 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Lourdes appeared ready to pull away early in the fourth quarter taking a 30-25 lead. Thats when Miami High turned to its diminutive, but tough 5-3 senior guard Amanda Mendoza for a turnaround. Mendoza took hard fouls but made her way to the free throw line and made 6 of 8 foul shots to eventually put Miami High ahead for good at 33-31. Suarez hit a jumper and later drew a foul and hit both free throws with 32.7 seconds left to draw Lourdes even at 35.
If Tiffanys shot goes in, we may have had a whole different outcome, but Im very proud of my girls and very happy for Miami High, Lourdes coach Chris McKeon said. Miami-Dade County has great womens basketball and we have coaches that work hard. I wish it didnt come down to both of us with only being able to win.