Norland is two wins away from becoming just the third Miami-Dade County school to win three consecutive state titles in boys’ basketball.
No school from the county has ever won four in a row.
“I had no idea so few schools have ever done it,” said Norland coach Lawton Williams, who has led the Vikings to four state titles in the past eight years.
Indeed, Norland would join Northwest Christian (2003-2005) and Miami High (1954-1956 and 1989-1991) on the list of the county’s “three-peaters.”
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Williams said while Norland still has to finish the job, he acknowledged he has talked to his team about how special it would be to win three in a row.
“It’s something they can tell their grandkids about,” he said.
The Lakeland part of the story will begin Friday at 2:30 p.m. when Norland (25-5) plays Jacksonville White (25-4) in a Class 6A state semifinal. The winner plays either Lake Minneola (27-3) or Lennard (25-4) on Saturday at 1:35 p.m. for the title.
Jacksonville White is a guard-oriented team — its three double-figure scorers are 5-8, 5-10 and 6-3 — and plays six sophomores in its nine-man rotation.
Norland also has good guards — led by 6-2 senior Zach Johnson, a Florida Gulf Coast recruit — but the Vikings have more size and experience than White.
Dewan Huell, a 6-10 sophomore who averages 10.9 points and 7.9 rebounds, and 6-8 senior Tyrell Williams (6.6 points, 7.3 rebounds) are Norland’s post players. Huell is ranked the second-best sophomore in the state, and Williams has a scholarship to Stephen F. Austin State University.
“It’s hard for other teams to simulate their length in practice,” Williams said. “And since it’s their second year of starting together, they have built good chemistry.”
Johnson leads the team in scoring (14.3) and assists (4.3). Williams said he has improved his knowledge of the game and has a tremendous will to win.
“He’s hard to guard one on one,” Williams said.
Joining him in the backcourt are 6-1 junior Darron Johnson and senior Dalvin Roberts.
Williams calls Darron Johnson a “phenomenal shooter,” perhaps the best he’s has had during his 10-year tenure at Norland.
Roberts, meanwhile, is a familiar name for Vikings fans. He is the ninth family member — between brothers, sisters and cousins — to play for the Vikings, and he serves as Williams’ point guard.
“Dalvin brings leadership because he’s a third-year starter and knows what I want,” Williams said.
Making an NFL quarterback analogy, Williams said Roberts is “Trent Dilfer, not Dan Marino — he’s a game manager.”
Norland goes nine deep with sophomore guard David Jean Baptiste, senior guards Larry McKnight and Ryan Mike and 6-6 senior forward Maurice McDaniel coming in off the bench.
“This is the most talented team we’ve ever had here,” Williams said. “It remains to be seen if they are the best.”
Two more wins might answer that in the affirmative.