Miami Norland coach Lawton Williams III has waited for his team — young yet talented — to break loose this season, improving in elements of the game such as better shot selection and ball movement.
Its progression continued as the host and defending Class 6A state champion Vikings cruised past the Pembroke Pines Jaguars 80-59 in a Regiona 4-6A semifinal Tuesday night.
“We made shots,” Williams III said. “We hadn’t scored like that in a while. That may be the game to get us over the top. By no means are we satisfied.”
Junior Zachary Johnson scored 29 points, including 10 of his team’s 22 first-quarter points. From the final minutes of the opening quarter until Pines Charter’s bucket with 4:42 remaining in the second, the Vikings went on a 17-2 run.
Its stifling defense fueled a 45-27 halftime lead. Each Viking scored at least one point on the night. Senior Maljhum McCrea added 11 off the bench. Sophomore Prince Adam Ali scored a team-high 29 points, 15 of which came in the first half, for the Jaguars (19-4).
Norland (23-5), which has won three state titles since 2006, will play the winner of Fort Myers and Island Coast on Saturday night.
“Getting that lead in the first quarter really took us off, and we just sustained the lead the whole game,” Johnson said.
NOR (23-5): Johnson 29, McCrea 11, Tyrell Williams 9, Dewan Huell 8, Larry McKnight 6, Shering Henry 4, Ryan Mike 4, Maurice McDaniel, Demari Bedward, Dalvin Roberts 2, Jovany Deceus 1. PPC (20-4): Ali 29, Justin Satchell 12, Haniff Cheatam 11, Matthew Johnson 4, Wade Meade 3. Half: 45-27. Three-pointers: Johnson 4, Satchell 2. Rebounds: Williams 12. Steals: Ali 4, Johnson 4. Blocks: Williams 3.
• Region 4-3A final — Westminster Christian 47, Florida Christian 40: The Warriors may have lost the district championship to the Patriots, but they found redemption.
The Warriors made their comeback after defeating Archbishop Curley in the quarterfinal.
“In the district championship [Florida Christian] outplayed us, and all we wanted was the chance to come back and play them again,” Westminster coach PJ Brown said.
The Warriors’ comeback will send them to the Region 4-3A final against Coral Springs Christian on Saturday.
It was an outstanding team effort according to Brown, but it was Diego Miller and Matt McLean who led in points, scoring 10 and 13, respectively.
COREY W. CAMPBELL
WC (19-9): Miller 10, McLean 13, J. Raine 4, Cronkrite 2, M.Raine 7, Blanco 6, Maldonado 3, Barbato 2. FC (11-15): Hernandez 3, Wicks 3, Cardoza 10, Sikora 13, Herschman 2, Perez 9.
• Region 4-2A semifinal — Westwood 66, Calusa 53: Westwood turned on an extra gear in the final quarter to pull away from Calusa Prep.
Westwood’s surge was led by swingman Danny Ramis with a couple key three-pointers in the final quarter.
Ramis had a game-high 23 points and added six assists and four steals.
Westwood coach Jose Amat said Ramis “was the catalyst. ... He really stepped up when he landed those threes.’’
This rematch was completely different than the first meeting on Dec. 4, when the Warriors blew out the Colts.
WC: Molina 5, Eugenior 9, Ramis 21, Thiago 20, Gonzalez 3. CP: Bowes 7, Alfonso 9, Carter 6, Vargas 23, Leonard 3, Uyaelunmog 2. Halftime: 33-33. Rebounds: Thiago 8. Assists: Ramis 6.
• Region 4-8A semifinal — South Miami 65, Palmetto 58: South Miami’s Jorge Perez-Laham scored 31 points, had four assists, three steals and one pivotal block to lead his team to a victory over host Palmetto.
The Cobras, who also won the GMAC title this season, advanced to regional quarterfinals where they will face defending Class 8A state champion Hialeah Gardens at South Miami on Saturday.
Perez-Laham found most of his scoring opportunities off the ball in the first half, but in the second the ball was in his hands every possession. South Miami coach Robert Doctor said “everything” was working for him.
“He was getting in the lane shooting that floater; he was knocking down the open shot; he was getting other people the ball,” Doctor said. “That’s the best point guard in Dade County.”
While scoring at will offensively, it was Perez-Laham’s defense that sealed the win. With the Cobras up six with 50 seconds left, he blocked a three-point attempt by Palmetto’s Frankie Pubchara that led to a fast-break layup plus a foul that put the game away.
“Those are the big plays that you have to make to win,” Perez-Laham said in Spanish. “You have to be prepared for those types of plays and push forward.”
South Miami 6-9 center and VCU recruit Antravious Simmons had 16 points and 10 rebounds to go with four assists and four blocks. Perez-Laham said that scoring was easier for him because Palmetto double-teamed Simmons defensively.
For the Panthers (18-8), Daniel Coffey scored a team-high 19 points. Trent Wasser had 13 and Kory Schulz added 11.
Palmetto’s season ended Tuesday, but not before an inspirational run that saw the Panthers win the District 16-8A final over Coral Reef after dropping their three previous meetings and getting past Columbus in regional quarterfinals.
Palmetto played South Miami without injured Joan Povea, the team’s second-leading scorer, and coach Rick Landera, who missed the game and practices leading up to it taking care of an illness to a family member. Assistant coach and junior varsity head coach Chris Creane took over for Landera Tuesday.
SM (26-3): Perez-Laham 31, Simmons 16, Lopez 12, Blanco 3, Cratit 3. PAL (18-8): Coffey 19, Wasser 13, Parlic 7, Schulz 11, De la Cruz 2, Mullet 3, Koss 3. Halftime: PAL 27-26. Three-pointers: Koss, Wasser, Mullet, Coffey, Schulz, Perez-Laham 2, Cratit, Blanco. Rebounds: Simmons 10. Assists: Simmons, Lopez, Cratit, Perez-Laham 4. Steals: Perez-Laham 3. Blocks: Simmons 4.
• Region 4-4A semifinal — Ransom Everglades 74, Gulliver Prep 55: Having one dynamic player can, a lot of times, be the difference between a win and a loss.
Ransom Everglades has one of the most dynamic players in South Florida in senior guard Sam Singer and his 20 second-half points helped the Raiders seal a win over rival and host Gulliver.
Ransom (26-2) will face Davie University School on Saturday in the Region 4-4A final — for a chance to go to Lakeland.
Singer, a California commit, finished with 32 points on 12-of-28 shooting with five assists and three steals.
“This is special — beating Gulliver for the last time in my career,” Singer said. “I’m going to miss playing in games like this, especially this game. The atmosphere was great tonight and I was glad that I was able to lead my team to a victory.”
Gulliver (22-7) trailed by 11 at halftime, but went on a 13-2 in the first four minutes of the second half and took a 45-41 lead with just over four minutes to play in the third. Antonio Ralat led Gulliver’s second half charge, going 5-for-5 during the run.
Japhet Kadji, the younger brother of University of Miami big man Kenny Kadji, also turned up his performance in the third quarter – scoring eight of his nine points in the third. Ralat finished with a team-high 15 points.
With his team down four, after surrendering a double-digit lead, Singer went on a personal 8-0 run and was the catalyst for Ransom’s response. During the rally, Singer nabbed away three steals that lead to run-out layups. Ransom held Gulliver scoreless for the final four minutes of the third and the first two and half minutes of the fourth, building a 62-45 lead before Gulliver was able to score another point.
Singer said that he just had to be more aggressive for his team once they got down.
“I had to stop settling for jump shots and attack the basket more,” Singer said. “ I was high volume tonight – I know I took a lot of shots and wasn’t very efficient, but I had to keep attacking. [Gulliver] was trying to pack the lane and make it difficult, but I was just going to keep being aggressive so that I can make plays for my team.”
Khambrel Roach added 19 points and nine rebounds for Ransom and Alonzo Mourning III had 13 points, eight rebounds and swatted away seven shots – and altered numerous others.
Gulliver coach Manny Bloom easily summed up what happened after his team took a four-point lead midway through the third.
“Sam Singer happened,” Bloom said. “He’s one of the best players in South Florida.”
RAN (26-2): Singer 32, Roach 19, Mourning III 13, Marx 5, Ertel 3, Stern 2. GUL (22-7): Ralat 15, Thomas 11, Kadji 9, Lafuente 7, Chasin 5, Beattie 5, Carreras 3. Halftime: RAN 37-26. Fouled out: Mourning III. Three-pointers: Singer 3, Roach 2, Carreras, Ertel, Lafuente, Marx, Beattie, Mourning III. Rebounds: Roach 9. Assists: Singer 5. Steals: Singer 3. Blocks: Mourning 7.