With a win on Friday, Miami High’s girls’ basketball team will play in “The World’s Most Famous Arena” — the same one that is called home by Carmelo Anthony and his New York Knicks teammates.
But before they can strut their stuff at Madison Square Garden, the Stings (31-1), ranked 25th in the nation by ESPN, 21st by MaxPreps and 19th by USA Today, will have to beat unranked Fremont (Plain City, Utah) Friday at 12:30 p.m. at New York City’s Christ The King High. The game will shown live on ESPNU.
“Our kids went crazy when I told them we were invited to New York,” Miami High Coach Sam Baumgarten said. “They cheered their butts off.”
Fremont was equally thrilled, according to its coach Lisa Dalebout.
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“They acted like they just won Miss America,” Dalebout said. “There was a lot of balling. They were excited, and they were confused. I don’t think they will truly believe it until they get to New York.”
Fremont (24-2) has never been nationally ranked and had never won a state title until it took the Class 5A crown this season. Miami High will be the first time this season that Fremont has played a team outside of Utah.
But the Silver Wolves do have talent. Their standouts are 5-11 junior guard Shelbee Molen and 6-1 senior center Amanda Wayment — both of whom are BYU recruits.
Moten was Utah’s Miss Basketball and the MVP of the state tournament, averaging 16.8 points and 4.0 assists. She also led her team in shooting percentage on three-pointers (50) and free throws (85.5).
Wayment averaged 15.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and a team-high 1.8 blocks.
Miami High does not have any players yet committed to a college, but 6-4 junior center Beatrice Mompremier — the Florida Player of the Year in Class 8A — will present a challenge to Fremont.
Mompremier, the nation’s No. 38 player in the espnW rankings for the Class of 2015, is averaging 13.1 points and 12.6 rebounds.
Her point guard is Amanda Mendoza, a 5-2 senior averaging 10.6 points and 4.8 assists. She is the team’s best shooter, averaging team-highs in free throw (74) and three-point percentages (40). She also leads with 60 made three-pointers.
Unlike Fremont, Miami High has been tested by teams from outside its own state. Miami High defeated a pair of top teams from South Carolina and should have knocked off Edison (Alexandria, Va.) in what turned out to be the Stings’ only loss.
But a miracle three-pointer by Edison sent the game to overtime, where Miami High lost in controversial fashion. Mompremier was ejected early in that game.
The Stings recovered since then and have won 15 in a row. And with a win on Friday, Miami High would play Saturday at 10 a.m. at Madison Square Garden against either Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro Md.) or Edgewater (Orlando). That NHSI final will be televised by ESPN2.
Riverdale (27-3) is ranked No. 15 by ESPN, No. 10 in USA Today and seventh by MaxPreps.
The Crusaders won this tournament in 2012 and feature three seniors who are all ACC recruits: 5-9 shooting guard Chania Ray (Florida State), 5-9 combo guard Chloe Jackson (North Carolina State) and 6-2 forward Khaila Prather (Miami).
Edgewater (24-6) is unranked and has a history with Miami High, losing to the Stings 52-50 earlier this season in a holiday tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Leading the way for Edgewater are 6-0 senior wing Nyala Shuler, who is a Central Florida recruit, and 5-9 senior point guard Haley Clark, a University of Georgia recruit.