Norland has won four boys’ basketball state championships in the past eight seasons — more than any other Miami-Dade County team during that span.
GMAC tournament championships haven’t been as common for the Vikings, however.
Norland added one of those to its trophy case Friday night after pulling away from Miami High in the second half for a 57-38 victory at their home gym.
Norland (20-5) won only its second GMAC title led by a dominant effort from its frontcourt players. Dewan Huell led the charge with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
The Vikings will begin their bid for a third consecutive Class 6A state title next week when they host Mourning in the District 15-6A semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“[Miami High] has a lot of pride and I knew they would come out playing hard and we didn’t meet their intensity initially,” Norland coach Lawton Williams III said. “We’re going to use this as a learning lesson.”
Williams III warned his team to be ready for a tough effort from Miami High, which was looking to fare better than it did in a 33-point loss to Norland on Jan. 11. The Stingarees (15-10), the top-seed in District 14-8A, kept themselves in the game thanks to the sharp shooting of Austin James, who scored all of his 18 points on six three-pointers.
But Norland’s defense didn’t allow the Stingarees to sustain much in terms of rhythm and limited every other Miami High scorer to four points or less.
After Miami High pulled to within five points, Norland began to separate in the fourth quarter.
“We should have come out a little stronger than we did early on,” Huell said. “We know we can beat teams like this, but we often come out slow kidding around. We know we can’t keep doing that.”
Tyrell Williams had a stellar defensive game with seven blocks, and Larry McKnight finished with 13 points. Zachary Johnson finished with 11 points and had four assists and four steals.
“We turned the game over on them late and got out in transition and ran,” Williams III said. “As long as we play with intensity, we’ll be fine.”