Love it or hate it, Charles Stephenson’s high-risk, high-reward fast-break philosophy has Plantation American Heritage back in the state final four for the third consecutive season.
The American Heritage coach’s belief in getting as many shots up as possible doesn’t sit well with basketball purists, but it did help Heritage emerge out of the toughest district in Florida (16-5A) and win three regional playoff road games to get to Lakeland.
“Sometimes I get ridiculed that we should slow down a little bit, but we’re just not a half-court team,” Stephenson said. “Our kids like to get out in open space and play. We like to speed the game up. When we’re pushing up and hitting our shots, we’re amazing.”
The No. 2 Patriots’ high-octane fast break begins with 6-10 Western Michigan signee Drake Lamont feeding a scoring arsenal led by Keyshawn Evans, Justin Massey, Jason Massey, Josh Borders and Hunter Osceola. Heritage (23-7) faces No. 7 Panama City Rutherford (26-3) in the 5A state semifinals at The Lakeland Center on Friday.
“Really, when we went last year to states were just happy to be there,” Justin Massey said. “This being our last two games we want to focus in. Coach Stephenson talks about a legacy. We don’t want to be the teams that got there three times and couldn’t finish. We want to finally get the job done this time.”
Western’s goalkeeper Valeria Zerbo had 14 saves as the South shut out the North team 2-0 in Thursday’s BCAA Senior All-Star game at Pompano Beach High.
Guiselle Melendez scored in the 22nd minute as the West Broward defender blasted a loose ball past Deerfield Beach keeper Vivian Trujillo for the 1-0 lead.
It was during the early portion of the second half where Zerbo earned the South MVP honors as the North squad produced a flurry of shots at goal, including three point-blank shots, all turned away by Zerbo.
St. Thomas Aquinas midfielder Rachel Bogue put the finishing touches on a lining shot from the left side past with seven minutes remaining.
Douglas midfielder Monica Rojas earned the MVP honors for the North team.
In the boys’ game, Fort Lauderdale standout forward Ralph Joseph accounted for all of the scoring with a hat trick and an assist, earning the MVP honors for the North in its 4-2 victory over the South. Cooper City’s Randy Milliken, who scored a goal for the South, earned the MVP honors for his team.
Competing in the 20th Annual BCAA Dade vs. Broward Wrestling Tournament on Thursday night at South Broward High School, the Broward side, which had just one win in the previous 19 tries (2008) was locked up in a 45-45 tie with Dade.
But depth proved way too much as the Dade All-Stars eventually pulled away with some late-match pins to win it 99-71 and continue its two-decade dominance.
With Dade up 45-42, the only match pitting two state champions against each other, Matt Kirkland of Monsignor Pace, the 1A champion, and St. Thomas Aquinas’ John Weiss, the 2A title holder in 170 pounds, took center stage.
With the match tied 9-9 and less than 30 seconds left, Weiss recorded a two-point takedown to win it 11-9 and give Broward three points to tie things up at 45.
BOYS’ TENNISUniversity School 7, American Heritage 0: Pine Crest 4, Archbishop McCarthy 3: Chaminade-Madonna 5, Pace 3:
GIRLS’ TENNISPine Crest 6, Archbishop McCarthy 1: Pace 4, Chaminade-Madonna 3:
BOYS’ WATER POLOCooper City 26, Hollywood Hills 15: Pine Charter 24, Westminster Academy 16:
GIRLS’ WATER POLOWestminster Academy 18, Pines Charter 4: Suncoast 8, Cooper City 6:
SOFTBALLGoleman 11, Archbishop McCarthy 1: WP: University School 13, Pine Crest 3:
BASEBALLMonarch 15, Northeast 0: Pines Charter 20, Stranhan 0:
BOYS’ LACROSSEAmerican Heritage 12, South Plantation 2:
GIRLS’ LACROSSEWestern 12, West Broward 4: