Mater Academy has been on the cusp of making a run at a state championship in boys’ basketball in recent years.
Performances like Saturday night’s might make some believe this could be the year it happens.
Led by some sharp shooting by senior guard Chris Mejia, the Lions upset four-time reigning Class 6A state champion Miami Norland 60-56 at the second annual Florida Prospects/RMF Magazine Respect Series at Westminster Academy.
“This is why you schedule tough games during the season especially right before the playoffs,” Mater Academy coach Corey Stephens said. “Norland is the standard for basketball so this win is huge for us.”
Mejia finished with 20 points and hit four three-pointers to help the Lions take the early lead in the first quarter and never trail again.
Senior Dylan Frye finished with 10 of his 12 points in the second half and had three rebounds and three assists. Rafael Diaz finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals. Shimoore Stern had 10 rebounds and seven points.
Norland senior All-American Dewan Huell finished with 24 points, but it wasn’t enough to rally the Vikings.
Mater Academy (19-3) won its 18th consecutive game since a 1-3 start and dealt Norland (18-4) its first loss of the season to a Miami-Dade County opponent.
“The difference between this team in November and now is night and day,” Stephens said. “We had a team meeting and we got Stern back from the football team so everything came together. We still need to get better rebounding and a little better ball movement.”
Mater Academy, which moved up to Class 7A this season, would not have to play Norland in the playoffs as it has in years past. The Lions figure to be one of the favorites in a balanced region that includes the classification’s reigning state champion Blanche Ely.
Norland also lost in the Respect Series last season to Miami Christian before winning seven of its final eight on its way to the state title.
▪ Respect Series — Coral Gables 69, Auburndale 60: The Cavaliers have relied on their experience all season and it came through again Saturday during a hard-fought victory at Westminster Academy.
Despite arriving nearly an hour late because of traffic, Gables did not appear distracted as it maintained its advantage throughout.
P.J. Hall led Gables with 19 points and six rebounds, and Kevin Morley added 15 points.
The Cavaliers, who have 10 seniors and five juniors, will next face four-time reigning state champion Norland in the GMAC tournament quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Miami High.
“The experience has shown as we’ve gone through some tough competition,” Coral Gables coach Chachi Rodriguez said. “Our ball movement was excellent [Saturday].”
CG (17-5) Hall 19, Morley 15, Smith 12, Sanchez 6, Blet 5, Brown 5, Diaz 5. Half: CG 29-25. Rebounds: Hall 6. Assists: Diaz 5. Three-pointers: Hall 2, Morley, Smith 2, Sanchez 2.
▪ District 16-2A championship — Gulliver 2, Key west 1: Goals by Cesar Roman and Patrick Batalha led Gulliver to the comeback win over Key West that helped it secure the District 16-2A championship Saturday afternoon at Westminster Christian. The Raiders (12-2-2), the two-time reigning Class 2A state champions, will host MAST on Thursday afternoon in the Region 4-2A quarterfinals. Ransom Everglades will host Key West in another quarterfinal Thursday at 7 p.m.
▪ District 16-4A championship — Belen Jesuit 2, Reagan 1: Belen Jesuit remained the only unbeaten team in Miami-Dade County by securing the district title at Traz Powell Stadium. Frankie de la Camara raised his county-best goals tally to 49 for the season by scoring both goals for the Wolverines (22-0-2). Tavish Rice and Juan Pereira each had an assist. Belen Jesuit will host the loser of the District 15-4A final between South Broward and St. Thomas Aquinas (ppd. until Monday at 6 p.m. at Nova) on Thursday in the Region 4-4A quarterfinal round. Reagan will travel to play the winner also on Thursday.
▪ Respect Series - Miami Central 71, Coral Springs Charter 49: Anthony Wilson led the Rockets (18-4) with 23 points, 16 rebounds, eight steals, three assists and two blocks.
▪ Respect Series - Riviera Beach Suncoast 61, Coral Reef 50 - CR (16-4): Bryan 14, Boria 9, Selfran 9, Vreones 7, Perez 5, Houston 3, Louis 2, Moultrie 1. Rebounds: Bryan 9. Assists: Boria, Vreones, Houston 3. Blocks: Boria 3.
▪ Respect Series scores: Zion Lutheran 73, Winter Garden West Orange 30; Fort Lauderdale 72, Southridge 64; McArthur 80, Riviera Beach Inlet Grove 59; Liberty Christian 68, Northeast 60
▪ Archbishop Carroll 76, Archbishop McCarthy 75: AC: Silva 21, Anglada 16, Deribeaux 14, Villamil 8, Garcia 8, Aarestrup 5, Fred 4. AM: Arocho 23, Jones 4, Diaz 15, Thomas 10, Guelce 8, Avila 3, Messer 12. HT: AC 42-35. Rebounds: Silva 11. Assists: Silva 10. Steals: Villamil 6. Three pointers: Silva 4, Deribeaux 4, Villamil, Aarestrup, Arocho 2, Thomas 2, Messer 2, Diaz
▪ Belen 70, St. John Neumann (Naples) 57: BEL(19-4): Torres De Navarra 5, Salazar 2, Milton 10, Mejer 3, Rodriguez 18, Consuegra 14, Puente 10, Romeu 8. SJN: Bojeau 14, Hernandez 2, Castain 5, Makumator 12, Youmans 22, Kirk 2. HT: BEL 30-29. Assists: Rodriguez 10. Rebounds: Rodriguez 6, Romeu 6. Steals: Rodriguez 3.
▪ Hillel 53, Doctors Charter 34: DC: Turner 11, Romnick 6, Dodds 6, Meighen 3, David 2, Gill 2, Pierre 2, Millan 2. HIL (9-11): Moskovitz 18, Zaken 9, Assraf 8, Givner 6, Zafrani 4, Pinkhasov 3, Budman 2, Brener 2, Wolf 1. HT: HIL 30-18. Three-pointers: Moskovitz 2, Romnik 2, Pinkhasov, Meighen. Rebounds: Zaken 14. Assists: Moskovitz 5. Steals: Budman 2, Zaken 2
▪ Miami Country Day School 66, Montverde 52: MCD (19-6): M. Alvarez 8, S. Provenzano 8, C. Lewis 17, M. Edwards 9, D. Jackson 8, K. Marshall 7, L. Pierre 9.Montverde: D. Quesada 9, C. Clarin 3, B. Tollie 17, P. Rodriguez 9 P. Gragera 14. HT: MCD 33-32. Three-pointers: Alvarez 2, S. Provenzano 2, Lewis, Jackson, Pierre 2. Rebounds: Lewis 7. Assists: Lewis 7. Steals: Lewis 4. Blocks: Lewis 1, Berry 1
District 13-5A final: Western at Cypress Bay, 7
District 15-4A final at Nova: St. Thomas Aquinas vs. South Broward, 6
District 16-1A final at Marathon: 3:30