High School Sports

Ferguson cruises to first GMAC girls’ basketball title

Natalia Pineda drives to the basket during GMAC girls' basketball championship at Ferguson High on Friday, January 27, 2017.
Natalia Pineda drives to the basket during GMAC girls' basketball championship at Ferguson High on Friday, January 27, 2017. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Ferguson added another first to its girls’ basketball program’s growing success.

Led by another outstanding performance from their guards, the Falcons had little trouble securing the GMAC championship with a 60-26 rout of Miami Norland on their home court Friday night.

Ferguson, which made its first appearance at the state final four last season, won its first county tournament title.

And with that trophy already added to the school’s collection, the Falcons now shift their attention to their most coveted prize as they chase a potential return trip to the state final four in Lakeland after making it for the first time last season.

“We talk about finishing so much with this team and the experience we gained last year,” Ferguson coach Gabriel Lazo said. “We’re still a little young since we’re starting a freshman, but we played three regional games last year on the road.”

Natalia Pineda and fellow junior guard Sheslanie Laureano once again paced Ferguson’s offense as Pineda finished with 20 points and Laureano had 18, including four three-pointers.

“This gives us a lot of confidence,” Pineda said. “We had never been able to get it since my freshman year, and this was one of our goals.”

But on the defensive end was where Ferguson smothered Norland’s offense the entire game.

The Falcons (19-7), who open the District 15-9A playoffs Tuesday at Lourdes against Coral Gables in a semifinal, led by 36 points at the end of the third quarter prompting a running clock.

In addition to a solid job distributing the ball, junior point guard Yaire Rodriguez led the effort on defense with a game-high eight steals. She also finished with nine points and seven assists.

Freshman Angelee Rodriguez and senior Bria Kingwood stepped up in the absence of starting sophomore center Cheyanne Daniels. Rodriguez finished with four blocks and eight rebounds, and Kingwood also had eight rebounds.

The day did not start well for Ferguson as the Falcons learned that Daniels would miss the remainder of the season because of a torn ACL she sustained in Ferguson’s quarterfinal round win against Booker T. Washington on Tuesday. Daniels was averaging 11.6 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game.

“We knew as a team we had to make up for her not being there on the defensive end and rebounding,” Pineda said. “We all got together [Friday] after we found out and said, ‘This one is for Cheyanne.’”

NOR (17-7): Bailey 6, Rotan 4, Jackson 2, Williams 4, Pressley 8, Seide 2. FER (19-7): Grant 6, Laureano 18, Gonzalez 2, Y. Rodriguez 9, Kingwood 2, Pineda 20, A. Rodriguez 3. Half: FER 34-17. Three-pointers: Laureano 4, Grant 2, Pineda. Rebounds: Kingwood, A. Rodriguez 8. Assists: Y. Rodriguez 7. Steals: Y. Rodriguez 8. Blocks: A. Rodriguez 4.