While it’s anybody’s guess which Coral Gables players will emerge as the Cavaliers’ scoring leader each game, a defense that travels well is never in question.
The RMF Magazine No. 16 Cavaliers dialed up their defense in the second half to rally from a 29-22 halftime deficit and defeat Chaminade 50-44 in the Adidas Holiday Slam Classic semifinals at Florida Christian on Friday.
“Chaminade is a good team and we are just very young and we make very young player mistakes,” Cavaliers coach Chachi Rodriguez said. “But down the stretch we defended real well. That has been the key for our group. When we defend like we did in the second half, we can defend with anybody.”
The Cavaliers (12-3) held the Lions (9-5) to six points in the pivotal third quarter and then got a three-pointer from Mac Melendez with 5:40 left in the fourth quarter to forge ahead 40-37.
But the Lions, who advanced with a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Brandon Jai Jai Ram in the opening round, tied the score at 42 on Nikita Orap’s three with 3:25 left.
The Cavaliers defense, however, dug in and forced consecutive turnovers leading to a pair of free throws from Imani Figuereo with 35.6 seconds left for a 48-42 lead.
Coral Gables will face Orlando Faith Christian in the Dwight Howard bracket championship game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Figuereo led a typical balanced scoring attack for the Cavaliers with 12 points. Rodney Martinez added six points and eight rebounds.
“I’m happy we have a chance to play for a championship on Saturday,” Figuereo said. “In the second half, our defense was the difference. We came out with more intensity. We didn’t shoot the three-pointers good today, but tomorrow is another day.”
Leandro Allende led the Lions with 13 points. Orap added 10 points.
TRACK AND FIELD
American Heritage's Deja Parrish grew up believing she would become UCLA’s next great long sprinter, but ultimately Clemson's elite nursing program swung Parrish's decision in the Tigers' favor.
Parrish said embellishing her post-running nursing career was the deciding factor in giving Clemson an oral commitment and foregoing the laid back California lifestyle and storied UCLA tradition that tugged at her.
“I’m in love with California and UCLA but I just felt that Clemson was a big step to build me as a person and toward my degree,” Parrish said. “I am trying to be a nurse. The Clemson coaches said they would work with me as far as doing my clinical hours. That meant a lot to me.”
Tennessee, Arizona State and LSU were also in the hunt for Parrish, who has led the Patriots’ 1,600-meter relay teams to three consecutive state titles and the Patriots to four consecutive Class 2A state team titles.
Parrish is the last standout at Heritage following a mass exodus of other All-Americans this past Summer.
While Heritage’s bid for a fifth consecutive state title looks slim at best, Parrish promises to do her part by competing in the 100, 200, 400 and long jump.
Parrish will be seeking her first 200-meter state title and second 400-meter state title after finishing runner-up in the long sprint on two other occasions.
•Late Thursday- Hollywood Hills 53, Hollywood Christian 47: HC:
A. Jackson 14, J. Gertner 24, J. Osceola 4, W. Momperus 2, J. Holmes 3. Rebounds: A. Jackson 18, W. Momperus 7. Steals: J. Gertner 4.