Pembroke Pines Charter star 6-5 swingman Haanif Cheatham showed Cardinal Gibbons on Friday why he has joined the short list of players worth paying to watch.
In building on a successful junior season that features four triple-doubles, the ESPN four-star prospect scored a game-high 27 points, including eight down the stretch, to help the visiting SourceHoops Class 6A No. 3 Jaguars (13-3) hold off Class 5A No. 2 Cardinal Gibbons 53-50.
“I knew coming in from August that I had to take over the game whenever it was needed,” Cheatham said. “I’m loving that mind-set.
“I’m playing with a ton of confidence right now. I’ve been working out. It’s coming out good, and I’m loving the way I’m playing now.”
Another big fourth quarter from Cheatham helped the Jaguars survive a frenetic rally from the Chiefs (15-4), who trailed 41-35 going into the fourth quarter but drew to within 43-42 when Gibbons forward Melvin Brooks tossed in a layup with 5:30 left.
With Charter barely holding on, Cheatham answered with a twisting layup around three defenders for a three-point lead, then made six consecutive free throws down the stretch, culminating with a pair with 0.6 seconds left after grabbing Jose Morales’ bank shot with three seconds left that bounced off the rim.
While Cheatham fell short of his fifth triple-double this season, he added 10 rebounds, five steals and four assists, including a pass from beyond midcourt that hit Peter Buckely in stride for a layup and 12-5 lead.
“Haanif is understanding time, possession and understanding what we need on the floor at all times,’’ Jaguars coach Dave Roca said. “He has a good feel for the game. He really doesn’t gets rattled. He has a lot of composure and you saw that tonight in the results.”
Cheatham helped Charter build a 29-29 halftime lead with a three-pointer at top of the key and then a layup to close the second quarter.
Not to be overlooked is the defensive performance Matthew Johnson turned in against Morales, Gibbons’ star point guard.
Morales finished with 10 points, including two free throws that pulled Gibbons to within 51-50 with 22.3 seconds left, but Johnson's pressure limited Morales from making his customary explosive plays in the open court.
Johnson also came up with a clutch steal with 44 seconds left off a Gibbons inbounds play that preserved a 51-48 lead.
Buckley finished with eight points and 10 rebounds for Pines Charter. The Chiefs got 12 points from Richard McIntosh, nine from Josh Charles and eight points from Brooks.
Close to 90 standout football players from Miami-Dade and Broward counties will compete Saturday when TRU Sports Foundation hosts its fifth annual Public vs. Private All-Star Game at Monsignor Pace High School.
The coin toss will be conducted by former University of Florida and Jacksonville Jaguar running back Fred Taylor, and kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m.
The Public squad trails in the series 3-1 and will be looking to avenge two consecutive one-point losses. Last year’s 28-27 defeat and an 18-17 loss two years ago when Belen Jesuit placekicker Sergio Sroka nailed a 29-yard field goal on the last play.
Hialeah Champagnat coach Mike Tunsil, fresh off leading the Lions to the Class 2A state title, will head the Private team, and Hallandale coach Dameon Jones will lead the Public team.
“It’s been a tremendous game the last two years with fantastic finishes and we’re looking to another good one this Saturday,” said game organizer Mario Smith, Executive Director of the TRU Sports Foundatin. “This All-Star Game has provided an opportunity for many high school senior athletes to showcase their talent, and we are proud to have received such a high level of interest from athletes around the tri-county willing to travel to participate in this game.”
Game tickets are $5 for high school students with a valid ID and $10 for general admission, with children under 3 admitted free. For more information, contact Smith or Claudienne Hibert at 305-740-2822 or visit www.trusportsfoundation.org.
Archbishop McCarthy vs. St. Brendan (STB), 3:30
Park Vista vs. Monsignor Pace (PACE), 5:00
Gulliver Prep vs. Ransom Everglades (Ransom Everglades), 7:30
Norland vs. Miami High (MHS), 7:30
Columbus vs. Hialeah Gardens (Hialeah Gardens), 7:30
Miami Central vs. Carol City (CC), 7:30
Edison vs. Northwestern (NW), 7:30
Chaminade-Madonna vs. Hillel, 8:00
Norland vs. Lourdes (COL), 4:00
St. Brendan vs. Key West (KW), 4:30
Gulliver Prep vs. Ransom Everglades (Ransom Everglades), 6:00