Class 8A contender Mater Academy (RMF Magazine No. 7) believes 6-5 sophomore Damarre Monsanto has the scoring talents to take them deep in the playoffs.
Palm Beach Dwyer (RMF No. 10), which could meet Mater in the Class 8A regional playoffs, won’t argue with that assessment.
Monsanto had the breakout shooting performance he was missing with a game-high 26 points, including six three-pointers, to help the Lions break away from a tight first half and defeat Palm beach Dwyer 62-54 at the T.O.C. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Basketball Classic at the Coral Springs City Gymnasium on Saturday.
“I needed a game like that,” Monsanto said. “I have been in a slump. This one can carry me the whole season to play even better.”
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Mater hopes Monsanto bottles some of the sweet shooting stroke he had on Saturday for the playoffs.
The Lions lost 51-49 to McArthur in the 7A regional semifinals last season and are waiting for a chance to redeem themselves after moving up to 8A this season.
Dwyer took momentum into halftime when Tommie Luke found Austin Evans cutting for a layup to beat the second quarter buzzer and put the Panthers up 29-25.
But Lions coach Marcos “Shakey” Rodriguez’s signature quick-hitting offense helped Mater pull away in the third quarter.
Jesus Duquesne hit back to back three-pointers to give Mater a 41-35 lead with 2:40 left in the third quarter and Monsanto, who set the tone in the first quarter with three-three-pointers, hit another from beyond the arc to push the lead to 47-38.
Jesus Duquesne added 15 points, and Felipe Sinelli had 10 points for the Lions.
In an earlier matchup, St. Thomas Aquinas matched favored Oxbridge in the first half but ultimately couldn’t recover from a 21-9 scoring deficit in the pivotal third quarter and lost 68-48.
Oxbridge held a 32-30 halftime lead before sophomore Dante Wilcox helped the Thunderwolves pull away for good, scoring eight of his team-high 19 points in the pivotal third quarter. Keidron Smith capped the Thunderwolves’ big quarter with a runner from the left elbow with 10 seconds left in third quarter that pushed the lead to 53-39.
Senior swingman Eylijah Stephens led the Raiders with a game-high 20 points.
Michael Akuchie added 12 points, including a layup that cut the lead to 60-48 with 3:35 left. But Fella Hunter squashed any hope for a Raiders’ comeback with late back-to-back three-pointers.
▪ Mater Academy 62, Dwyer 54: MA (12-4): Monsanto 26, Nicholas 8, Tanis 3, Sinelli 10, Duquesne 15. DWY (12-5): Luke 4, Anders 6, Quince 4, Coleman 5, Evans 17, Gedeon Germinal 11, Gethro Germinal 2, Davis 5.