LAKELAND -- It took one of the most painful losses in Dallas Cameron’s career for the Pompano Beach Blanche Ely guard to get his just due as an elite defender.
In the 2011-12 City of Palms Tournament, the 6-3 Cameron requested the defensive assignment on Bishop Gorman (Nev.) 6-6 wing Shabazz Muhammad, the eventual 2011-12 McDonald’s Player of the Year. Muhammad, a top freshman at UCLA this season, finished with 27 points but was held to 6-of-24 shooting in Gorman’s 58-57 victory.
“It made me feel like I have the ability to defend anybody at any time … once you step on the court, you have to show what you can do,” Cameron said.
Cameron’s defense was pivotal in the Tigers’ run to the Class 7A state title last season and could loom large again Friday when the MaxPreps No. 12 Tigers (25-1) face Bartow (27-3) in the FHSAA Class 7A state semifinals at The Lakeland Center.
Cameron, an American University signee, credits insight gleaned from Fredrick Conner, his former teammate and the 2010 Broward Player of the Year, and studying his opponents’ game tape for helping him develop into a top-tier defender.
“I’m a perfectionist. I don’t like when a man scores one point on me,” Cameron said. “I want to guard the opponent’s best player. If we can’t find a clip on him, I will feel him out first. After a while, I will process all that and have a defensive plan for him.”
Ely needed all of Cameron’s 20 points to escape with a 85-79 double-overtime victory over Palm Beach Lakes in the Region 4-7A final.
But on a balanced scoring team — including Richard Lee (15 ppg), Khalil Thomas (13.3 ppg), Lance Tejada III (11.5 ppg) and Darrion Allen (11 ppg) — it is Cameron’s defensive intensity Ely values most.
A four-year varsity player at Ely, Cameron said he holds the distinction of being the winningest athlete in school history, with a 98-11 career record. Ely coach Melvin Randall said there is nothing he would like more than for Cameron to round out the win total to 100 and win his second consecutive state title.
“Dallas has sacrificed a lot for our team,” Randall said. “He could average 20-plus [points] a game but his thing is he loves the defensive aspect of the game. You’re always going to come across a point guard or perimeter player that can put the ball in the basket. I have a guy in Cameron that can change that.”
The girls and boys playing in the BCAA North-South All-Star Game at Nova on Thursday night forgot they were playing in an All-Star Game.
Instead of a high scoring affair, both games featured plenty of defense and few scoring opportunities. One goal was the difference in each game.
In the girls’ game, Douglas’ Brianna Raaf scored in the 51st minute on an assist from Plantation’s Stephanie Miot, which was enough to give the North squad a 1-0 win. Raaf was named the MVP for the North, and West Broward’s Hannah Finch was named MVP for the South.
Other than Raaf’s goal, there were few scoring chances.
The boys’ game wasn’t any different. In fact, it took longer to score as Yancy Gutierrez out of Hallandale scored on an assist from Miramar’s Jose Castellon in the 64th minute to give the South a 1-0 victory.