Norland’s boys’ basketball team will need great performances from more than just All-American Dewan Huell if it intends to keep its state championship streak alive this season.
It needed late contributions from several starters Friday night to hold off senior guard Anthony Wilson and upset-minded Miami Central during a 56-51 victory in the GMAC championship game at South Miami High.
Norland (21-4), a four-time reigning Class 6A state champion, won its second GMAC title in the past three seasons and dethroned Central (18-5), which won the tournament last season after beating the Vikings in the semifinal round.
Norland also beat Central, now a District 15-6A rival, for the third time this season.
“This was definitely a hard-fought win, and Central played really well,” Norland coach Lawton Williams III said. “I’m proud of the way my guys rose to the challenge.”
Although Huell, a McDonald’s All-American, finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, the Rockets were able to limit his damage at times.
Such wasn’t often the case for Norland against Wilson, who poured in another prolific effort and nearly rallied the Rockets to victory.
Wilson finished with a game-high 34 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, eight steals and six blocks.
It was late contributions from Jonathan Andre (11 points), David Jean-Baptiste (15 points) and Tyrik Waite (eight points) that helped stave off the comeback after Central used a 12-0 surge to tie the game at 40 with 17 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Central momentarily took a 51-50 lead with less than two minutes remaining on Wilson’s lone three-pointer of the game. Andre, who went scoreless in the first half, scored all 11 points in the second half and answered quickly at the other end following Wilson’s triple by tipping in a missed shot.
Jean-Baptiste hit a couple of clutch free throws in the fourth quarter to give Norland a 54-51 lead. Wilson missed a three-pointer with 21.6 left that Huell rebounded. After drawing a foul, Huell missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Central had one more chance to tie. But Michael Cooper missed that three-point attempt and Ernel Foster secured the rebound, hitting both free throws at the other end.
“Every team keys on Dewan so we definitely will need everyone to step up,” Williams III said. “That being said, he’s a McDonald’s All-American so he needs to play better. In the playoffs, you find a way to win and that’s what we need to keep doing.”
NOR (21-4): Rolle 2, Jean-Baptiste 15, Andre 11, Waite 8, Huell 16, Waugh 4, Foster 4. CEN (18-5): Wilson 34, Cooper 8, Louis 7, Pierre-Louis 2. Three-pointers: Rolle, Waite, Wilson, Cooper, Louis. Rebounds: Wilson 12. Assists: Wilson 4. Steals: Wilson 8, Blocks: Wilson 6.