A banner in South Miami’s gym read: “This is our house... This is our time.”
Those words proved prophetic as the Cobras, backed by a packed and loud crowd, eliminated defending state champion Hialeah Gardens 48-42 in a Class 8A regional final at South Miami on Saturday night.
With the win, the Cobras (27-3) qualified for their first trip to the boys’ basketball state semifinals since 2004. South Miami will play Tampa Wharton (25-4) Friday night in Lakeland. Tip-off time will either be 7 or 8:30 p.m.
South Miami was led by 6-1 senior point guard Jorge Perez-Laham, who scored 14 points. His performance followed his 31-point game against Palmetto in the regional semifinals.
“He’s been getting better every game,” Cobras coach Robert Doctor said of Perez-Laham, who transferred from Puerto Rico to South Miami for his senior year. “He is a key to our team.”
Hialeah Gardens (23-6) was led by senior guard Adrian Gonzalez, whose stellar prep career ended with a game-high 16 points.
But for much of the game, it was more about who was missing than who was actually playing.
Gardens’ star center Alvaro Simoza, who missed virtually all of the regionals due to an ACL injury, was on the Gladiators’ bench – on crutches.
Meanwhile, South Miami’s star center, Antravious Simmons, was also missing in action for much of the game – but not due to injury.
The Virginia Commonwealth University recruit picked up his second foul with 2:30 left in the first quarter. He sat out the rest of the half and had no points – including four misses from the foul line – as the third quarter ended with the Cobras clinging to a 33-30 lead.
In fact, the only reason the Cobras led at all was that Perez-Laham hit a three-pointer just before the third-quarter buzzer.
Simmons finally hit two free throws for his first points with just 5:35 left in the game. He added a put-back three minutes later to finish with four points.
“I didn’t have my best scoring game – in fact, it was my worst (of the season),” Simmons said. “But I’m happy because my team won.”
Simmons, even on an off-night, was still a major factor on defense with four blocked shots. An example of Simmons’ effect on the game came in the third quarter with South Miami up 23-21. Simmons blocked a shot, recovered the loose ball and fired it to a streaking Perez-Laham, who made the open layup.
“I love playing with him,” Simmons said of Perez-Laham. “He gets everybody involved.”
South Miami has never won a state title, although coach Fred Jones led the 2004 team to a second-place finish, and Charlie Funk did the same thing with the Cobras in 1996.
Doctor was an assistant coach on the 2004 Cobras, who were led by University of Miami recruit Brian Asbury.
“That was a great team,” Doctor said. “But I think this team is more complete, all-around.”
SM: Perez-Laham 14, Blanco 10, Simmons 4, Cratit 8, Bartley 4, Lopez 8. HG: Gonzalez 16, Sanchez 12, Huertas 2, Frias 2, Leonardo 10. Half: SM 21-16. Fouled out: Kurnick. Three-pointers: Sanchez 2; Perez-Laham 2, Blanco 2.
• Region 4-4A final — Ransom 64, University 44: For decades, Ransom Everglades School was perhaps best known for its tennis and water polo programs when it came to athletic success. On Saturday night, the boys’ basketball team decided it would step through the doors and make a little history of its own.
With a trip to the final four in Lakeland on the line and trailing University School by five late in the third quarter, the Raiders closed out the final nine minutes on a 28-3 run to pull away and defeat the Suns before a standing-room-only crowd at Ransom. The Raiders will take on Orlando Lake Highland Prep, last year’s state runner-up, in a Class 4A state semifinal on Tuesday at The Lakeland Center.
“Just a great moment and magnificent achievement for our program,” said Ransom head coach Claude Grubair. “I’m happy for everyone but mostly for those kids out there celebrating.
Ransom (27-2) needed all the chemistry it could muster up as University (18-8), thanks to some effective work down low by its big man Maquedius Bain, went on a 13-0 run to go from down 17-10 to up 23-17 midway through the second quarter and led most of the way until early in the fourth. All of the time, RE’s leading scorer and California commit Sam Singer (27.5 ppg) struggled from the floor missing every single three pointer (eight) he threw up and had just eight points at halftime.
Trailing 41-36 with just over a minute left in the third quarter, the momentum swung in Ransom’s favor and never turned back. The Raiders scored the final four points of the third and first five of the fourth to take a 45-41 lead.
Then, after a Jalen Battle three pointer which would be the Suns’ only points of the fourth quarter cut the lead to one, RE’s Julian Marx nailed back-to-back three pointers and Khambrel Roach nailed one after that to put the Raiders up by 10 and they pulled away from there.”
“The first half was frustrating but it was a matter of hanging in there and knowing good things would eventually happen,” said Singer who went on to finish with 22 points, seven assists and three steals. “This is a big moment for our program and now we want to keep it going in Lakeland.”
“For some reason we just got away from what we had been having success with for the first three quarters,” said University coach Adrian Sosa. “We just lost our patience and stopped running our sets but you have to give them (Ransom Everglades) some credit for that as well, they’re a terrific basketball team and were the better team tonight.”
US (18-8): Bain 18, Barton 8, Battle 7, Bullock 6, Allen 5. RE (27-2): Singer 22, Mourning 15, Stern 9, Marx 8, Roach 7, Ertel 3. Halftime: US 29-28. Three-pointers: Marx 2, Barton 2, Mourning, Stern, Ertel, Roach, Battle, Allen. Rebounds: Mourning 11. Assists: Singer 7. Steals: Singer 3. Blocks: Mourning 3
• Region 4-6A final — Norland 85, Fort Myers 59: Behind the strong play of guard Zachary Johnson and small forward Larry McKnight, defending Class 6A state champion Norland (24-5) rolled visiting Fort Myers.
Johnson had a game-high 26 points, including 15 points in the first-half to help the Vikings advance to their second state final four in a row. McKight added 17 points.
Featuring a trio of big-men over 6 foot 7, the Vikings held a significant size advantage over Fort Myers. Norlandwon the rebounding battle and was able to score more points in the paint, butwas outshot from beyond the three-point line.
The three-point shot was one ofthe only things that keep Fort Myers competitive in the game. Entering thethird quarter, the Green Wave (25-5) trailed by 17 points, but a series ofthrees cut into Norland’s lead.
Midway through the quarter, theGreen Wave made it a 10-point game, but were
unable to make thescore any closer. McKnight and center Maljhum McCrea were instrumental in theperiod, scoring a number of easy lay ups and dunks to help Norland take a20-point lead into the fourth quarter.
“Coach was telling us to keep our composure andnot to give up,” McKnight said.
Norland continued its offensiveattack in the fourth quarter, extending its lead to over 30 points.
FM: Matthews 19, W. Graddy 18, B. Graddy 9,Brunson 6, Castro 3, Thelus 2, Bornelus 2. NOR (24-5): Johnson 26, McKnight 17, McCrea 14, Roberts 10, Henry 6, Huell 6, Jean-Baptiste 2, Bedward 2. Half: NOR 42-25. Rebounds: McCrea11. Assists: Henry 4. Blocks: McCrea 5.
• Region 4-2A final – Westwood Christian 71, Zion Lutheran 48: Center Thiago Daconceicao was two blocks shy of a triple-double for the Warriors (26-5) in a regional final victory over the Lions (22-8) at Westwood Christian. Daconceicao had 17 points, 16 rebounds and eight blocks.
This is the first time in its 15-year history that Westwood’s boys; basketball team has advanced to the state semifinals.
Westwood jumped out to an early 7-0 lead. The Warriors went up 15-4 on a dunk by sophomore Eugenior Joseph. Guard Daniel Ramis scored 17 first half points. The Warriors led 38-27 at the half.
In the third quarter Westwood went up 50-34 thanks to back-to-back three pointers by Ramis and guard Gabriel Gonzalez.
The Warriors’ defense prevented a Lions’ rally and held Zion to seven points in the fourth. After the win, Westwood players and head coach Jose Amat cut down the net.
Daniel Ramis had a game-high 24 points. Forward Armond Shoon score 13 points and had 6 steals.
WWC: Ramis 24, Daconceicao 17, Shoon 13, Joseph 6, Jou 4, Molina 4, Gonzalez 3. ZL: Stonne 17, Rojas 11, Bornelus 8, Witty 6, Stubbs 6. Halftime: WWC 38-27. Three-Pointers: Ramis 2, Gonzalez, Shoon, Rojas, Stone, Bornelus. Rebounds: Daconceicao 16. Assists: Ramis 6. Steals: Shoon 6.
Late Friday – Florida Christian 6, Lowndes County (GA) 2
WP: Andrew George. Top performers: George 5 IP, 7 K. Eric Montero HR. Jack Diaz 2-3, 2 RBI. FC 3-1.
Late Friday – Brito 9, Archbishop Carroll 4
WP: Angel Cortes (2-0). LP: Noa. Top performers: Andy Herrera 4-4, HR 2 RBI. Diosvanny Boulet 2-4, 2 RBI. Edberg Dominguez 2-3, RBI. BRI 5-0.
Late Friday – Doral 7, Reagan 3
WP: Eddie Escribano. SV: Kevin Alloroa. Top performers: Chris Hernandez 2-2, 2 R, RBI. Andy Hernandez 2-3, R, 3 RBI. Christian Martinez 2-4.
Late Thursday – Miami High 11, Miami Beach 10
WP: Xabier Gomez. LP: Moises Cabrera. SV: Christian Torres. Top performers: Magdiel Palmeiro 2-2, double, 4 RBI. Mario Vento 2-3, 2 RBI. MH 1-4.
Late Thursday – La Salle 9, Doral 7
WP: N. Canino (1-0). Top performers: Justin Blair 3-3, double, RBI. Mike Avila 2-4, 4 RBI. Elier Rodriguez 2-3, triple, 2 RBI.
Late Thursday – Ransom Everglades 17, Coral Shores 10
WP: Steven Vinson. Top performers: Alex Friedman 2-5, 2 RBI, run. Garett Rubin 3 runs. Caleb Bush 1-3, RBI.
Late Thursday – Champagnat 5, American 4
Top performers: Keriln Mateo 2-2. Andy Garcia 2-3.
Late Thursday – Southridge 4, Palmetto 2
WP: Isaac Dasilva 4 IP 4K (2-0). LP: Michael Wall. Top performers: Octavio Mirabal 2-4, 3 SB. Austin Peterson 1-1, 2 RBI. SR 4-2.
Late Thursday – Hialeah 10, Krop 0
WP: Alexis Herrera 4 IP, 5K, (1-0). LP: Carlos Murillo. Top performers: Alian Silva 4-5, double, RBI. Kevin Betancourt 3-4, RBI. HIA 1-1.
Late Thursday – Killian 4, Varela 0
WP: Vladimir Nunez. LP: Jay Rosquette. Top performers: Gil Polanco 2-4, double, 3 SB. Nick Mira 2-2, double, run. Ryan Sabbag 2-3, double, RBI, 2 SB. KIL 5-0-1.
Late Friday – Westminster Chr. 8, Seminole Ridge 1
WP: Kelli Kleis (3-0). LP: S. Chung. Top performers: Natalie Lopez 3-4, 3 R, 2 doubles. Brittany Husk 2-3, 3 R. Caitlin Charlton 2-3, 2 RBI.
Late Friday – Lourdes 17, South Miami 2
WP: Vanessa Flores (4-2). Top performers: Vanessa Flores 2-2. Nina Cruz 2-3. Jenny Herold 3-3, 3 RBI. LOU 5-2.
Late Friday – Princeton Chr. 21, Boca Chr. 7 (4)
WP: Courtney Cox (2-1). Top performers: Katie Wise 2-3, RBI. Stephanie Robelo 2-4, 4 RBI. PRI 2-1.
Late Friday – Braddock 3, Southridge 2
WP: Ginyer Morales (4-2). LP: Alyssa Fonda. Top performers: Natalie Benedit 2-3, RBI. Alyssa Flores 1-3, R. BRA 4-3.
Late Friday – Killian 9, TERRA 6
WP: Natalie Ordenes. Top performers: Emily Demurias 3-4, 2 R, 2 RBI. Megan Zollo 4-4, 2 R. Kelly Speer 2-4, 2 RBI.
Late Friday – Hialeah-Miami Lakes 18, North Miami 3
WP: Jessica Duque. Top performers: Duque 3 K. Ambar Lora 1.000 OBP, 4 R, RBI. Gabby Obando 3 R, 2 RBI.
BOYS’ WATER POLO
• Late Friday – MAST 21, Miami Country Day 17: Nick Sellar 8 goals, 3 steals, 4 assists. Gabe Garcia 4 goals. Conrad Ruiz 5 goals.
• Late Thursday – Columbus 13, Miami High 6: Ryan Dawson 4 goals. Anthony Bonet 2 goals. Jorge Rizo 2 goals.
GIRLS’ WATER POLO
• Late Friday – Gulliver 18, Coral Reef 5: Isa Granados 5 goals, 2 assists, 2 steals. Camila Schafer 4 goals, 4 assists, 5 steals. Rebecca Serrano goal, 5 assists, 4 steals. GUL 1-0.
• Late Friday – MAST 13, Miami Country Day 4: Cara Mullery 6 goals, 6 steals, 2 assists. Kyra Reifenberg 4 goals, 3 steals, 2 assists. MAST 2-0.
• Late Friday – TERRA 4, Ferguson 3: Brian Melamud (TER) won No. 1 singles 8-1. Alex Pizarro (TER) won No. 2 singles 8-0. Karl Hallstrand (TER) won No. 3 singles 8-1. TER 4-1.
• Late Thursday – Belen 6, Coral Shores 1: William Lorenzo won No. 1 singles 8-0. Mark Lagunas won No. 3 singles 8-2. Santiago Vidal won No. 4 singles 8-2. BEL 2-1
• Late Thursday – Belen 7, Key West 0: Juan Lorido won No. 1 singles 8-0. William Lorenzo won No. 2 singles 8-0. Christian Perez won No. 3 singles 8-0.
• Late Thursday – Gulliver 4, Doral 3: Chase Perez-Blanco won No. 1 singles 8-4. Andres Nido won No. 2 singles 8-2. Paulo Parente won No. 4 singles 8-4. GUL 6-0
• Late Thursday – Mourning 7, Miami Springs 0: Pablo Sanchez won No. 1 singles 8-0. Giancarlo Penton won No. 2 singles 8-0. David Jaworski won No. 3 singles 8-0. MOU 6-0
• Late Friday – Krop 7, Sarasota Venice 0: Cassie Pough (KR) won No. 1 singles 6-0, 6-0. Danna Gandelamn (KR) won No. 2 singles 6-1, 6-2. Naiya Oden (KR) won No. 3 singles 6-1, 6-3.
• Late Friday – TERRA 6, Ferguson 1: Victoria Cambe (TER) won No. 1 singles 8-2. Celeste Tamers (TER) won No. 2 singles 8-1. Karla Perez (TER) won No. 3 singles 8-2. TER 4-1.
• Late Friday – Carrollton 4, Miami Country Day 3: Alexandra Fields (CAR) won No. 1 singles 8-1. Lindy Lyones (CAR) won No. 2 singles 8-0. Nina Cubero (CAR) won No. 3 singles 8-4. CAR 3-1.
• Late Thursday – Carrollton 5, Marathon 2: Lindy Lyons won No. 1 singles 8-0. Nina Cubero won No. 2 singles 8-0. Sima Vasquez won No. 3 singles 8-1. CAR 2-1
• Late Thursday – Gulliver 6, Doral 1: Olivia Thaler won No. 1 singles 8-4. Julieta Dalmau won No. 2 singles 8-1. Estefania Navarro won No. 3 singles 8-1. GUL 6-0
• Late Thursday – Mourning 7, Miami Springs 0: Jackie Rosales won No. 1 singles 8-0. Nati Hernandez won No. 2 singles 8-0. Alex Cabezas won No. 3 singles 8-0. MOU 6-0
• Late Thursday – Gulliver 15, LaSalle 3: Brian Suarez 90% FO wins, 9 ground balls. Ryan Cordero 3 goals, assist. Pierce Bailey 4 goals, 2 assists. Sam Easton 4 take aways