NEW YORK -- Miami High was right back in the game. A woeful first half was in the rear-view mirror, and the Stingarees were only down six points.
But it was a single, devastating play that took the air out of Miami High’s balloon en route to a 43-33 loss to Fremont (Utah) in the girls’ basketball semifinals of the Dick’s Sporting Goods National High School Tournament on Friday at Christ the King High.
The Stingarees seemed to have a turnover off their suffocating press late in the third quarter. But when senior guard Terri Kimbrough tipped the ball, it ended up right in the hands of Fremont senior guard Sydnee Ward. She promptly drained a three-pointer that gave Fremont a 27-18 lead with 2:22 left in the quarter.
In a game where scoring was extremely hard to come by, that swing made all the difference.
“We just can’t let that happen,” Miami High coach Sam Baumgarten said. “It was a big run. We get that steal, we score, we’re down by four. Momentum is in our favor.”
The loss put an end to an incredible season for Miami High (31-2). The Stingarees won their first Class 8A state title since 2005 on Feb. 23 and came into this prestigious tournament ranked No. 20 in the USA Today Super 25 Girls National Rankings.
It was that long layoff, Baumgarten said, that affected his team, especially in a first half in which Miami High shot 3 of 21 from the field.
“That really hurt,” he said. “We got our legs under us; we just didn’t have that feel, that rhythm. We were definitely off.”
Miami High was down 18-8 heading into halftime and actually scored the same amount of points as Fremont — 25 — in the second half. The deficit ended up being too big. And Fremont (25-2) did a nice job defending Stingarees junior center Beatrice Mompromeir, a 6-4 blue-chip prospect who has offers from major Division I programs.
“As soon as she got closer to the basket, we obviously wanted to send people towards her,” Fremont coach Lisa Dalebut said. “She’s not somebody you can just leave on the block. She’s incredible.”
Mompremeir still ended up with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and senior guard Antranae Alvin added eight points for Miami High.
Amanda Wayment led Fremont with 12 points. Fremont will meet Riverdale-Baptist (Md.) in the championship game at 10 a.m. Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
Miami High will be in attendance at MSG but merely as spectators. Senior guard Amanda Mendoza couldn’t help but wonder what might have been if that unlucky bounce went the Stingarees’ way.
“It was really frustrating,” she said. “It was like, we were about to get the ball, and it just landed into the wrong person’s hands, and she makes the three.”