Miami High responded in crucial moments throughout this postseason.
With a chance to make history in their star center’s final game, the Stingarees weren’t about to change their clutch ways.
Led one last time by senior Beatrice Mompremier, Miami High emerged from a defensive struggle with Orlando Colonial on Saturday afternoon with a 44-37 victory and its second consecutive Class 8A state championship.
Mompremier, a Baylor University signee, McDonald’s All-American and USA junior national-team player, finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds to help Miami High cap a stellar three-year run of state finals appearances.
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“I would have never expected to be here three years in a row,” Miami High coach Sam Baumgarten said. “When we came up and played Dr. Phillips and gave it all we had, we knew that group would have a chance to do this. Beatrice took a leadership role and embraced it. The kids rallied around her.”
Baumgarten, who has coached with his father, Sam Sr.; mother, Jeanette; and brother, Nick, for more than a decade at Miami High, once had a goal to hang at least one girls’ state championship banner next to the school’s vast boys’ state title collection.
With its third state championship overall, Miami High tied Monsignor Pace for the county record for most state titles in girls’ basketball.
The Stingarees (29-3) also became the sixth Dade school to win back-to-back state titles, joining Pace, Miami Edison, Miami Norland, Miami Northwest Christian and Miami Country Day, which repeated as champion in Class 3A earlier this week.
“For me as a coach, I will never be able to match what [former Miami High] coaches like Shakey Rodriguez and Frank Martin accomplished with the boys over the years,” Baumgarten said. “Just to be mentioned among those names when talking Miami High basketball is something I’ll take any day.”
Baumgarten hopes Miami High’s next step is to earn one more tournament for Mompremier to play in a Miami High uniform should it earn an invitation to the Dick’s Sporting Goods National High School Invitational for the second consecutive season. Nationally-ranked Miami Country Day and Fort Lauderdale Dillard also are strong candidates from South Florida.
Mompremier’s next step is to prepare for the McDonald’s All-American game March 31 in Chicago, where Baumgarten will be present to support his star player.
“I’m a little nervous because throughout my high school career, I’ve always been with Coach [Baumgarten],” Mompremier said. “It’s definitely going to be different from now on for sure.”
Mompremier and the Stingarees capped the season with a memorable ending.
Saturday’s game itself, however, wasn’t a performance worth treasuring.
Miami High shot only 38.6 percent from the field and went 8 of 19 at the free-throw line. The Stingarees also committed 18 turnovers.
So it took more for Miami High to hold off revenge-minded Colonial (25-5), which had five players on its roster from the team that lost a buzzer-beater in a 2013 state semifinal to the Stingarees.
Miami High led by 11 entering the fourth quarter only to watch the lead dwindle to two points with 3:30 remaining. Mompremier scored the next four points, including a quick layup at the other end. Mompremier scored eight of her points in the fourth quarter.
Colonial did not score again, missing its final 10 shots from the field and three free throws. Miami High held Colonial without a field goal and to only two points (both free throws) in the third quarter. The Grenadiers shot 3 for 10 from the foul line and 30.2 percent from the field.
“We’ve done that all year long, taking a big lead and then letting teams back in,” Baumgarten said. “But when we have to we seem to get the ball where it’s supposed to go and get it done.”
Miami High outrebounded Colonial 47-30. In addition to Mompremier’s 16, Annette Dukes had 10 rebounds and Annelisse Vargas had seven. Vargas finished with 10 points and Dukes had nine.
Vargas also made several hustle plays down the stretch, one of which included her crashing into the press-row table courtside while chasing a loose ball.
“We had to pick each other up and motivate each other,” Dukes said. “We made sure nobody played like the game was over, and we got it done."
MHS (29-3): Dukes 9, Mompremier 22, Angulo 3, Vargas 10. COL (25-5): Tyghter 9, Hall 4, Harrison 7, Johnson 6, Daniels 8, Flores 3. Half: MHS 27-22. Fouled out: Tyghter. Three-pointers: Harrison, Flores, Angulo, Vargas. Rebounds: Mompremier 16. Assists: Sweeting 4. Steals: Daniels 3.