Miami High’s girls’ basketball team wasn’t at its sharpest shooting the basketball Friday night.
But there was nothing wrong with its defense.
The host Stingarees held American to only two points in the first quarter, and a couple of key steals late allowed them to hold on for a 49-42 victory that secured the GMAC championship.
Miami High (23-1), the top-ranked team in the Miami Herald’s South Florida Top 10 poll, won its second consecutive GMAC title and third since 2010.
Amanda Mendoza and Beatrice Mompremier each finished with 13 points, with Mompremier totaling 14 rebounds. Mendoza finished with five assists.
“At first it looked like we were going to go 15 rounds just jabbing each other,” Miami High coach Sam Baumgarten said. “They had trouble with shots falling early, but we knew they were going to come back.”
American (22-3), ranked second in South Florida, fell behind by as many as 13 in the first half but battled back in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to 42-39 on one of Jessica David’s three three-pointers.
Maika’la McCloud led the Patriots with 11 points, and Shannaya Jones had 10. David finished with nine.
But Miami High senior Melsheree Reid, who had a team-high four steals, stifled the comeback.
One of those steals came after she made a free throw to put Miami High ahead 43-39 with 1:02 left.
Reid stole an inbound pass and found Terri Kimbrough for an open jumper that put Miami High ahead by six. On the ensuing possession, Mompremier had another steal and Mendoza drew a foul.
Just as she did in Wednesday’s semifinal win against South Miami, Mendoza made 4 of 4 free throws to put the game out of reach.
“This is where you see why we play the type of schedule we do going to Orlando and Myrtle Beach and facing some of the state’s best teams and players,” Baumgarten said.
“We know it’s not going to get easier, but that’s what we need to be ready for in order to get back to state.”