Doral Academy’s boys’ basketball team added one more milestone to an already memorable season Saturday night.
Led by Jonathan Nunez’s 20 points and Miguel Ayesa’s 19 points including five three-pointers, the Firebirds secured their first-ever trip to the state final four with a 56-50 victory over Oakland Park Northeast in the Region 4-7A final.
Doral, which had never won a regional playoff game before this season, won its school-record 30th game and will take on Cape Coral on Friday at noon in a state semifinal at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.
The Firebirds (30-2) scored impressive wins in the postseason over Carol City, Norland and Northeast, and their only losses this season have come against fellow state qualifiers Miami Christian and SLAM.
"We just have kids that have worked their tails off," said Doral coach Jorge Fernandez, a former University of Miami assistant coach who took over the program four years ago. "I don’t know if we’re the most talented team, but we’re a pretty darn good team."
Fernandez has been able to put together a roster without superstars or major college offers that has gelled into a cohesive unit.
Kobbie Perez finished with 10 points and Reggie Perez had seven as well.
Ayesa’s clutch shooting in the fourth quarter helped Doral maintain its advantage after Northeast cut what was once a 15-point deficit to four points midway through the fourth quarter.
"I think he’s the best shooter in the state of Florida," Fernandez said. "Is he a perfect player? No. But I think people kind of sleep on him. We’ve coached that kid harder than anyone the past two years and his progress has been unbelievable."
Senior point guard Ricardo Jackson led Northeast (20-8) with 20 points while junior Jeremiah Sanders had 10 points and freshman Wesley Cadet finished with eight.
The Hurricanes’ regional finals appearance was their furthest advancement in the playoffs since 1985 when they reached the state final.