It seems only fitting that the biggest name on an undefeated Blanche Ely boys’ basketball team is a football player.
Nestled among national prep powerhouses where multiple ESPN top-100 recruits are the norm, Ely’s best player this postseason has been Therrell Gosier — a 6-7 athletic freak who signed on to play wide receiver at Kentucky.
Although Ely (26-0, ranked a school-best No. 6 in the USA Today Super 25 poll) may seem a bit out of place nationally, those who have followed Melvin Randall’s Hall of Fame coaching career aren’t too surprised with how the Tigers have risen to the top.
Randall not only has five state titles and 533 victories on his coaching resume, but he stands two wins away from making Ely the first public school in Broward County to finish a season without a loss.
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Sagemont, a private school, became Broward’s first undefeated boys’ basketball team last year.
The Tigers plays North Port in a Class 7A state semifinal at the Lakeland Center on Friday.
“That we are ranked No. 6 nationally and don’t have a top 100 player is a credit to our players, coaches and all the hard work they have put in,” Randall said.
“They have bought into that vision of where us as a coaching staff thought they could be. They are deserving of everything going on with them right now. To be undefeated and two wins away from a perfect season is a blessing.”
What the Tigers might lack in overall star power, they make up with a relentless ball-pressure defense which typically takes its toll in the third quarter. The Tigers also possess a three-point shooting arsenal led by Palm Beach Lakes transfer LaQuincy Rideau (16.5 points per game), Javon Heastie (13), Diandre Wilson (11) and Trevor Goodrum (10).
North Port also faces a quandary in Gosier who has provided a lift with high-flying dunks, offensive rebounding and shot-blocking.
“People kind of overlooked us this year,” said Gosier, who averages over 16 points, eight rebounds and almost two blocks per game.
“We have an edge. We really don’t get into all that player ranking. It is just hard work and putting the time in the gym. No matter what adversity we have face, we always fight and come through.”
The Tigers cleared what many expected to be their biggest threat to a perfect record with a 69-63 victory over a then- undefeated Cardinal Gibbons team in the first meeting of Broward teams ranked in the top-15 nationally.
If the Tigers win their next two in Lakeland, it could put them in the drivers seat for an invitation to the Dick’s Sporting Goods National Tournament in New York and a shot at a national title.
“I know each and every one of my kids would run through a brick wall for me because I would do the same for them.” said Randall.