Miami Country Day guard Danielle Minott called last year’s state runner-up finish a big tease.
Minott and the Spartans aren’t planning on coming up short of a state championship this time around.
Led by Minott’s 22 points and 12 rebounds, the Spartans took control quickly and cruised over Weston Sagemont for a 64-35 victory in a Region 4-3A semifinal Tuesday night at home.
“It was a tease for me personally to lose last year,” said Minott, a Syracuse signee.
“I’ve been there twice now — once with this team. We’re just trying to get there and finish this off.”
Miami Country Day (23-3) will host Melbourne Florida Air Academy on Friday night in the regional final round at 7 p.m. The Spartans beat Florida Air earlier this season — one of several wins against some of the top-ranked teams in the state.
Sagemont (18-9) felt confident it could fare better than it had in two previous blowout losses to Miami Country Day this season.
But after a few minutes, the Spartans wrecked those plans.
“We learned a valuable lesson in last year’s regional final the way [Sagemont] jumped on us and almost beat us,” Miami Country Day coach Ochiel Swaby said. “We played with a lot of energy. We played an attacking style, and we like to speed the game up.”
Miami Country Day didn’t let the Lions slow down the pace of the game sticking to its up-tempo style and scoring both from long-range and in the paint. Minott hit four three-pointers and Maria Alvarez hit two. Freshman guard Aryan Lewis conducted the attack with nine assists to go along with her 10 points.
The Spartans worked the ball inside behind Michelle Berry’s 11 points and Ogechi Anyagaligbo’s eight.
Berry, a junior forward who transferred to the school before this season, has given Miami Country Day more depth and balance.
“Michelle gives us speed, energy, length and a whole new presence on the court,” Minott said. “In terms of shooting, we all have stepped our game up as a whole because that’s something that killed us last year.”
•Region 4-8A semifinal: Ferguson 55, South Miami 54:
Trailing for most of the night, Ferguson got the late punch necessary to outduel host South Miami.
Nachalie DeJesus scored twice in the final 17 seconds to give Ferguson the win.
“She has that in her,” Ferguson coach Gabriel Lazo said. “That’s the person we wanted with the ball in her hands, and she made a play.”
Added DeJesus, speaking in Spanish: “It was the will to win.”
South Miami had one final gasp, but Katrina Yanes’ deep three-point attempt at the buzzer drew front iron.
With the win, the Falcons (22-6) avenged a district final loss to the Cobras and have now advanced as deep as they’ve ever gone in the postseason. They will pay a visit to Miami High in the regional finals on Saturday.
•Region 4-2A semifinal: Hebrew Academy 41, Calusa Prep 28:
An aggressive defense keyed the Warriors to an early lead that they never relinquished in their victory over Clausa Prep in Miami Beach.
Racheli Matis and Haley Dobin had 16 points apiece to pace the Warriors (15-3). Hebrew Academy will be making its first trip to the regional finals.
•Region 4-8A semifinal: Miami High 57, Flanagan 44:
With a University of North Carolina coach among the scouts watching in the stands, 6-4 junior center Beatrice Mompremier led the Stings (28-1) past the host Falcons (18-9).
Mompremier, one of the nation’s top recruits in the Class of 2015, had 21 points, 23 rebounds and five blocks as the Stings advanced to the regional finals, where they will play host to Ferguson (22-6) on Saturday.
•Region 4-6A semifinal: Norland 59, Northwestern 26:
With the Norland girls’ basketball team having gone through a less-than-Norland-like regular season, Northwestern walked into the Vikings gym with their 19-5 record thinking perhaps it was time to knock the queens of Miami-Dade County girls’ basketball off their throne.
But thanks to sophomore Tyana Williams (29 points, 20 rebounds), there was no dethroning to be done as Norland (16-9) cruised to the lopsided win.
The Vikings advanced to Saturday’s Region 4-6A championship game where they will travel north to play Boynton Beach and be looking for their third consecutive trip to the state final four.