American Heritage’s boys’ basketball team got key contributions from Drake Lamont and junior Jeremy Mullings in the fourth quarter as the host Patriots defeated Dillard 64-62 in a Region 4-5A semifinal in Delray Beach.
The game was moved from the Plantation campus to the American Heritage-Delray Beach campus because of the need of a larger facility.
Kobe Eubanks led the Patriots with 17 points and five rebounds. Lamont followed with 16 points and 14 rebounds. American Heritage (21-7) will face Naples Lely in the regional final Saturday.
With four seconds remaining in the game and American Heritage clinging to a 64-62 lead, Dillard’s (15-11) Tyson Grace drove the ball to the middle of the lane. The 6-10 Lamont rotated on defense and forced Grace to put up a tough floater that hit the front rim.
“We were in a full-on denial [defense],” Lamont said. “We took away their main option and if I had to leave my man, I had to come help.”
With the score tied at 48-48 entering the fourth quarter, Dillard went on a 5-0 run which was capped off on a steal, layup and foul by Arthur Kennedy to give the Panthers a 53-48 lead.
The quick run by the Panthers did not shake the Patriots.
“This is the fourth time that we have played them. That has happened every game that we play them,” Patriots coach Charles Stephenson said. “We remained confident.”
The Patriots countered by going inside to Lamont for baskets. The Panthers doubled Lamont hard, which left Patriots’ shooters Josh Borders and Mullings open on the perimeter. Consecutive three-pointers by both fueled a Patriots 10-0 run and gave the Patriots a 58-53 lead. Mullings scored all five of his points in the game within that run.
Dillard countered with a 4-0 run with 2:40 remaining, which was led by Tristan Pendergraph. He scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, but the Panthers offense struggled to score in half-court sets.
“It’s going to be a game of runs,” Dillard coach Darryl Burrows said. “They were able to sustain their runs.”
The Patriots got timely defensive stops by Jason Massey blocking shots and team rebounding in the final possessions.
“It was about coming together and playing hard,” Eubanks said. “I knew that if I wasn’t hitting from the field, I had to help my team by doing something else.”
DIL (15-11): Pendergraph 15, Kennedy 11, Walker 11, Grace 7, T. Smith 6. AH (21-7): Eubanks 17, Lamont 16, Mullings 5. Halftime: American Herigate 31-29. Rebounds: Lamont 14, Mullings 6 Eubanks 5. Assists: Lamont 6. Three-pointers: Eubanks, Borders, Mullings, Grace.
• Region 3-8A semifinal — Deerfield Beach 54, Cypress Bay 34: It took a little while, but once Deerfield Beach got going, nothing was going to slow the Bucks down as they used their superior height and athleticism to pull away in the second half and cruise to a win over Cypress Bay in a Region 4-8A semifinal game at Cypress Bay High School.
And with the win, Deerfield advances back to its second regional final in a row. The Bucks will look to make amends for last year’s six-point upset loss at home to Spanish River when they host Jupiter on Saturday night with a chance to advance to their first final four since 1999.
“I always remind them of how that felt last year and that usually keeps their attention,” said Deerfield Beach coach Kenny Brown, who saw his team, ranked No. 4 in the state, improve to 27-4. “We finally got things going in the second half tonight and really got some good defensive stops and turnovers, which created a lot of transition points.”