Next stop: nationals.
Fort Lauderdale University routed 13th-ranked Ocala Trinity Catholic 80-40 to win the FHSAA Class 5A state championship game on Thursday at the RP Funding Center. The 40-point win was the largest by a Broward County team in state finals history.
“Playing at the level we did is very satisfying,” University head coach Adrian Sosa said. “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to play well. We hear what the media and everyone is saying. At the end, this was one of our goals, but one of our goals is just to show up every day and work hard and have the best practice, one percent better every day.”
Ranked No. 1 in 5A by Max Preps and No. 2 overall in the nation by USA Today’s Super 25 Expert Rankings, University invoked the 35-point lead, running-clock rule by the 6:37 mark of the third quarter.
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From the outset, University was getting favorable matchups with a distinct height advantage and took a 23-6 first quarter lead and extended it to 42-18 by the half.
“We just went out there from the jump, they came out in a box-and-one on Vernon (Carey Jr.), and Dru (Drinnon) got us going hitting some shots. We were just able to get out and defended and took away passing lanes.
"We knew they like to shoot 3s, so we crowded shooters and tried to force them to Vernon and Scotty (Barnes) down low. Vernon did a great job of rebounding the ball and out-letting the ball and we got some easy baskets.”
University was led by Trey Doomes with 26 points and six rebounds. Drue Drinnon scored 15, Carey Jr. picked up 13 points and nine rebounds — all from the defensive glass — to go with his four blocked shots.
Carey Jr., a 6-10 junior forward, whose father player for the Miami Dolphins, highlighted the end of the first quarter when he canned a 3-pointer — his only long distance shot of the game — as the clock struck zero.
“I like shooting 3s. I just try to expand my game. We only had two seconds left on the clock, so I had to take the shot,” Carey Jr. said.
University will now wait for next week and a possible invitation to the Dick’s Sporting Goods national tournament and a possible matchup with top-ranked Montverde Academy.
“The field is announced on Tuesday, so we are hoping for that. We are hoping our name is called and we are one of the eight teams. If it is, we are just looking for the opportunity to play some of the best teams in the country,” Sosa said. “We’ve had a very successful year. Hopefully, it is not finished yet. We’ve achieved a lot of our goals.”
Trinity Catholic picked up 13 points from Dominic Pugh and 12 from guard Jarveil Gainey but collectively was only able to shoot 29 percent from the field.
“Looking at yesterday’s stats, I think they had 66 points in the paint in the semifinal game. Our strategy was to make them shoot it from the outside and they hit shots early,” Trinity Catholic head coach Carlos Villalobos said. “Hats off to them. It was a learning experience for us and just told my guys, we will be back.”