With momentum slipping away from Dillard, Jordan Wright caught a half-court pass with the third-quarter clock winding down and had the presence of mind to turn and shoot a three-point shot that caught nothing but net.
Of all the big plays that the BCAA Big 8 tournament MVP came up against archrival Blanche Ely on Saturday, none loomed larger that Wright’s clutch catch and shoot that carried Dillard to 68-62, hard-fought victory for the Big 8 title in front of a standing room only crowd at Fort Lauderdale High.
Wright’s clutch shot was a punch in the gut for Ely and part of a team high 27-point night that gave Dillard a 2-0 season sweep over its archrival and reigning Class 7A state champions.
Dillard has emerged as the biggest threat in Class 6A to Miami Norland on the strength of its dynamic one-two punch of Wright and Raiquan Gray, and Saturday was no different.
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Gray got Dillard off to red-hot start with 10 quick points and finished with 20 points.
Despite the loss, Ely (15-12) was encouraged by its effort and the play of senior wing Trevor Goodrum, who had a breakout game with 28 points, including six three-pointers.
“We really didn’t have an identity coming into this tournament,” Ely coach Melvin Randall said. “Our kids joked that we didn’t have a face. With our record, we really didn’t know about this team, but I feel much better about how we competed the past few games.”
Geremy Taylor added 14 points for the Tigers.
In the end, Ely had no answer for the 6-5 Wright, who used his superior strength and deft touch around the basket to put the Tigers away.
Wright converted an offensive rebound to put Dillard up 53-52 with 5:30 left and scored six of Dillard’s next 11 points when the game was still in doubt.
When Ely closed to 58-57 with 3:04 left, Wright answered with a finger roll and then added a floater off the right baseline for a 62-58 lead with 1:02 left.
But it was the Raiquan Gray show early, with the 6-5 wing pouring in 12 first-quarter points to stake Dillard to a 20-16 lead.
“Raiquan and Jordan have great chemistry together,” Dillard coach Darryl Burrows said. “They have been playing together for so long that they pretty much know what each other is going to do on the court. Our team feeds off that.”
Goodrum, the barometer of this up-and-down season for Ely, single-handedly kept the Tigers in the game with three three-pointers in the first quarter and then three more in the second quarter.
Goodrum provided what was the biggest shot of the game up until that point when his sixth three-pointer, this time from NBA range, beat the second-quarter buzzer, sending a jubilant Ely team into the locker room trailing Dillard 36-35.
BE (15-12): Taylor 14, Maloney 8, Goodrum 28, Scott 5, Forrest 6, Stampley 1. Three-pointers: Taylor 1, Goodrum 6, Forrest 1, Wright 1, Sellars 2. Assists: Taylor 7. DIL (20-5): Wright 27, Garner 6, R. Johnson 6, Sellars 3, Gray 20, Gadson 6.
With a tweet of Dillard defensive end Jon Ford photo-shopped onto a cover of ESPN the Magazine flexing his arms in front of a big “U,” the four-star junior bolstered UM’s 2017 recruiting class with an oral commitment.
Ford (6-5, 260 pounds), committing about a full year before his National Signing Day class, told the Miami Herald he wanted to jump on board early as he believes the Hurricanes are rebuilding into national champions.
He liked the message he was receiving from new coach Mark Richt, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski.
“Back to the basics — getting to the quarterback as soon as possible,” he said of the defense they told him they’re trying to run. “They like aggressive play — no sitting on the line reading.”
UM has 11 commits in its 2017 class, ranked third nationally by247Sports.
St. Brendan secured the first state championship by a competitive cheerleading squad in Miami-Dade County at the FHSAA championships held at the University of South Florida’s Sun Dome in Tampa.
The Sabres finished with a final score of 82.53 to edge runner-up Doral Academy in the Class 1A Extra Large Varsity division.
Broward County collected another state championship Saturday as South Plantation won the Class 2A Large non-tumbling division title. The Paladins’ victory came a day after Coral Springs won the Class 2A small non-tumbling division state title for its second consecutive state title in that division.
▪ Region 4-4A final — St. Thomas 4, Stuart South Fork 0: Bella Dorsey 2 goals. Shannon Turner goal, assist. Chloe O’neill goal. Mary Mccormick 2 assists. Abby Pangallo 4 saves, 9th shutout. STA 20-0-1.
▪ Region 4-1A quarterfinal — Westminster Academy 2, Miami Country Day 1 (OT): Patrick Sastre goal.
▪ District 16-3A Final — Palmer Trinity 50, Marathon 4: PT (15-4): James 9, Malloy 8, Dobrinsky 14, Iglesias 2, Esco 6, Herling 7, Lewis 2, Martinez 2 MHS (15-7) Ricart 2, Rayman 2. HT: PT 30-0. Rebounds: Dobrinsky 13. Steals: Iglesias 4. Assists: Esco 7.
▪ District 16-5A — American Heritage Plantation 55, Hallandale 29. AHP (22-5): Smith 10, Lindo 4, Willis 17, Sims 5, Duren 4, Kruss 5, Werbelow 3, Marshall 3, Dubbs 2. HAL (15-10): Walters 5, Williams 8, Simmons 4, Ellis 1, Culpepper 4, Sharpe 5. Rebounds: Willis 10. Assists: Werbelow 8. Steals: Smith 8. HT: 29-18 AHP. Three-pointers: Willis 2, Kruss 2, Werbelow, Duren.
▪ District 14-4A final — Cardinal Gibbons 39, Calvary Christian 27.
▪ Late Friday, District 12-3A — Westminster Academy 42, Sagemont 36: WA (19-5): Wallhoff 15, Kelmanson 10, Rosa 9, Quirk 3, Sampo 1, Alday 2, Zatorski 2. SAG (11-16): Jones, A. 4, Spencer 8, Stockton 2, Jones, G. 14, Booker 2, Prudent 4, Almordura 2.