Until Miami Norland finds the consistency it needs to challenge for another state title, the Vikings can hang their hat on defense.
The Vikings’ Jekyl-and-Hyde play followed it to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Classic, but a late game stand defensively helped Norland pull away for a 65-53 victory against Coral Springs at the Coral Springs City Gymnasium.
“We have not established an identity,” Vikings six-time state champion coach Lawton Williams said. “It’s very frustrating. I don’t know who is going to show up from day to day. I don’t know who is going to do what from day to day. We have work to do with our team ball-handling and decision making. We do that and we will be fine.”
Up until this point, Norland has relied on a score-by-committee approach to fill a huge void left by the graduation of former McDonald’s All-American Dewan Huell. But on Monday it was Kennith Rolle assuming the lead role.
Rolle scored a game-high 22 points, including seven in the pivotal fourth quarter, to help the Vikings break away from a Colts’ squad that hung around too long for the Vikings’ liking.
Alex London’s putback drew the Colts within 47-46 with 5:30 left when Rolle sparked the decisive 14-0 spurt to put the game away. Rolle converted a layup, Sam Griffin added another layup off a steal and 6-7 sophomore Chris Spenkuch punctuated the run with a one-handed dunk in traffic to give Norland a 54-46 lead with 3:26 left.
“This is not about filling the shoes of Dewan,” Rolle said, “It’s about filling the shoes for the team. We need to rebound more. We did a slightly good job on the ball defense. We are working hard. We have been doing good as a team.”
Reece Wilkerson added 13 points for the Vikings and Griffin added 11 points. Wilvens Fleurizard led the Colts with 13 points.
Norland led 29-22 at halftime and opened the third quarter on a 10-3 run but couldn’t put the scrappy Colts away until Rolle took matters into his own hands.
In the another MLK game, Michael Forrest picked up the slack on a cold-shooting night for Blanche Ely to help the Tigers hold off Mater Academy 61-55.
Forrest had his best game for Ely, pouring in a career-high 30 points, including a key three-pointer with 3:34 left to put Ely up 53-49 and four consecutive free throws with under a minute left to seal the victory.
Geremy Taylor, the Tigers’ leading scorer, started off with seven quick points but went cold for the balance of the game, opening the door for Forrest to take over.
“It felt good getting a career-high but even better helping my team get the win,” said Forrest. “This raises my confidence and makes me want to get better. Usually Geremy is with us but he wasn’t today, his game was off. It was a close game and it came down to who made free throws and rebounds. We picked up our intensity. We were slacking in the first half.”
Nicholas Stampley added 12 points for the Tigers.
A big part of the Tigers’ defensive game plan focused on Mater 6-5 sharpshooter Damarre Monsanto, who was coming off a game-high 26 points against Palm Beach Dwyer on Saturday. Monsanto, however, didn’t find the range he had against Dwyer and finished with 15 points.
Jesus Duquesne added 12 points for the Lions and Malcolm Nicholas had 13 points.
Mater took its last lead (55-54) when Mansanto nailed a jumper with 1:51 left. But Forrest found Joshua Scott for a layup, Alex Simoza missed two free throw attempts for Mater and Forrest answered by making four consecutive free throws down the stretch.
▪ Miami Norland 65, Coral Springs 53: CS: Lucien 6, Moore 2, Fleurizard 13, Watson 6, Lowry 8, Heard 9, London 7. Nor: K. Rolle 22, Griffin 11, Gatlin 1, Brown 4, Raye 3, O. Rolle 2, Dejahn Ford 2, Spenkuch 6, Wilkerson 13, Henderson 1. Half: Nor 29-22.
▪ Blanche Ely 61, Mater Academy 55: Mater: Ferguson 8, Nicholas 13, Tanis 5, Monsanto 15, Duquesne 12. Ely: Taylor 7, Maloney 4, Forrest 30, Scott 7, Stampley 12, Rogers 1. Half: Mater 30-29.
▪ MLK Classic: Miami Christian 74, Palm Beach Lakes 67: MC (16-2): Rosario 20, Haase 16, Camacho 11, Alvarez 8, Ernandez 6, Oquendo 6 , Rivera 5, Diaz 2. Rebounds: Haase 12. Assists: Camacho 7. Steals: Camacho 3. PBL (14-3). Half: MC 49-36.
GMAC quarterfinals: Ferguson at North Miami, 3:30; TERRA vs. Miami Beach (Memorial), 4; MAST at Varela, 4; Edison at Reagan, 3:30
District 12-5A quarterfinals: Coral Springs at Monarch, 3:45; Deerfield Beach at Boca Spanish River, 7; Delray Atlantic at Douglas, 7
District 14-5A quarterfinals at Flanagan: American vs. Flanagan, 4; Krop vs. Everglades, 6
District 15-5A semifinals at Tropical Park: Coral Gables vs. Miami Beach, 6; Braddock vs. Lourdes, 8
District 16-5A semifinals at Tropical Park: Palmetto vs. Ferguson, 2; Coral Reef vs. South Dade, 4
District 15-4A semifinals at St. Thomas Aquinas: Archbishop McCarthy vs. South Broward, 5; Hollywood Hills-Nova winner vs. St. Thomas Aquinas, 7
District 16-4A quarterfinals at Doral: Central vs. Mater Academy, 5; Westland Hialeah vs. Reagan, 7
District 16-3A semifinals at Traz Powell: Mourning vs. Goleman, 4; HML vs. Miami Springs, 6
District 14-2A quarterfinals at North Broward Prep: Pine Crest vs. Coral Springs Charter, 5; University School vs. Boca St. Andrews, 7
District 15-2A quarterfinals at North Miami Stadium: Ransom Everglades vs. Somerset Academy, 2; MAST vs. Chaminade-Madonna, 4
District 16-2A quarterfinals: Keys Gate at Coral Shores, 4; Key West at Westminster Christian, 4; St. Brendan at Carrollton, 4; Pinecrest Prep at Gulliver, 4
District 13-1A semifinals at Bamford Sports Complex: South Florida HEAT vs. Posnack, 3:30; Westminster Academy vs. Sheridan Hills Christian, 3:30
District 15-1A semifinals at Kendall Soccer Park: Archbishop Curley vs. SLAM, 2; Archimedean vs. Greater Miami Academy, 4:30
Last week’s best Miami-Dade performances
TEAM OF THE WEEK
The Coral Reef girls’ soccer team won its first ever GMAC championship. Rayquel Berry scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 win over Miami Springs in the final and finished with four goals for the tournament.
ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
Diego Rivera, Miami Christian, boys’ basketball: Rivera scored 61 points in two district games this week against Island Christian and Schoolhouse Prep.
Natalia Pineda, Ferguson, girls’ basketball: Pineda set a school record with 51 points in a victory over South Miami.
Stephen Chen, TERRA, boys’ soccer: Chen scored both goals in a 2-0 win for the Wolves over reigning state champion Belen.
Tiffany McBrayer, Ransom Everglades, girls’ soccer: McBrayer scored all four goals in a 4-0 win over Key West.
Chei Hill, Kyron Taylor, Eliha Varona, Bretli Reyna, South Dade, wrestling: All four won each of their matches to lead South Dade to the finals of the Virginia Duals National championships.
Andre C. Fernandez
Last week’s best Broward performances
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Liam Borbely’s goal off an assist from Cory Adika held up and Ricky Kiblisky recorded his eight shutout to help the University School boys’ soccer team (10-1-2) beat rival North Broward Prep 1-0.
ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
Femi Funeus, American Heritage, girls’ basketball: Funeus had 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Patriots over Deerfield Beach 67-49 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Showcase.
Reagan McCray, Archbishop McCarthy, girls’ basketball: McCray scored her 1,000th point in a 20-point performance against Doral Academy.
Jeffrey Prophete, Fort Lauderdale, boys’ basketball: The 6-3 Towson commit scored 53 points to lead the Flying L’s over Stranahan 98-60.
Devaris Parker, Hallandale, boys’ basketball: Parker had a game-high 19 points to lead the Chargers over North Miami 72-54 at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Classic.
Kayla Cunneen and Claire Ries, Pompano Beach, girls’ soccer: Cunneen and Ries each had a goal and an assist to lead the Tornadoes (12-6-1) over South Plantation 2-1.
Zach Scott, Westminster Academy, boys’ basketball: Scott scored a team-high 26 points to lead the Lions over Winter Haven 69-54 at the Wally Keller Classic.
Laney Fox, Cardinal Gibbons, girls’ basketball: Fox hit a game-winning three-pointer with 5.4 seconds left to help the Chiefs rally past Cypress Bay 50-47.
Brian Zuniga, Coral Springs, boys’ soccer: Zuniga scored two goals to lead the Colts over Spanish River 5-2.
The Miami Herald’s South Florida Top 10
1. Miami Christian (14-2)
2. Dillard (17-4)
3. West. Academy (21-3)
4. South Miami (17-2)
5. Blanche Ely (15-5)
6. Calvary Christian (12-3)
7. Mater Academy (15-2)
8. Arch. Carroll (18-2)
9. Norland (11-5)
10. Sagemont (12-6)
Under consideration: Doral Academy (17-2), Coral Springs (14-4), Piper (14-3), Hallandale (13-5), McArthur (13-12), Miami High (10-2).
1. Country Day (22-1)
2. South Broward (19-3)
3. Am. Heritage (18-2)
4. Nova (15-4)
5. Douglas (23-1)
6. Ferguson (13-7)
7. Gulliver (14-8)
8. Norland (13-5)
9. Fort Lauderdale (16-3)
10. Lourdes (11-5)
Under consideration: South Dade (12-0), Flanagan (16-3), Archbishop McCarthy (14-7), Cardinal Gibbons (12-5), Central (11-3), Miami High (9-5), Hialeah (14-4), Boyd Anderson (13-7).