If the Blanche Ely-Dillard boys basketball rivalry wasn’t big enough already, it went up a notch on Saturday.
Senior forward Joshua Scott sank four straight free throws to help lead Ely to a 67-64 victory over Dillard to earn the BCAA/BARWIS boys Big 8 Championship at Fort Lauderdale High.
The title was the fifth for the Ely in the 22-year history of the Big 8 and first since 2015. It was also the first time the Tigers defeated Dillard in the Big 8 final since 2012. Dillard leads the Big 8 with seven overall championships.
Still, the Tigers had to hold their breath as Dillard guard Deshawn Bartley made a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left to play. Tyrecke Francois (15 points) added a pair of free throws late to seal the win for the Tigers.
Scott finished with 20 points and was named the tournament MVP.
“Those free throws were very important to ice the game,” said Scott. “They are one of our biggest rivalries and this is my first time winning the Big 8, so this was very important for me and the team.”
The Tigers (18-6), winners of 11 straight games, either had the lead and was tied seven times in the final five minutes of regulation, but never let Dillard retake the lead after they were up 53-52.
“Going into the playoff next week and beating Dillard here is a good motivator for us,” said Ely coach Melvin Randall. “I knew this would be a dogfight to the end.”
The Panthers got themselves into striking distance of the lead when junior guard Darryl Burrows sank two of his five 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter. He finished with 15 points. Bartley led the Panthers (17-5), who saw their eight-game win streak snapped, with 23 points.
“Ely is a really good team,” said Dillard coach Darryl Burrows. “We played pretty well this evening, but a couple of missed plays cost us.”
Ely outscored Dillard 21-9 in the third quarter to take a 50-46 lead heading into the final quarter.
Lamont Evans gave Ely its first lead of the game at 15-14 following back-to-back 3-pointers to end the first quarter. He had only two long distance baskets combined in the first two games of the Big 8.
Dillard’s front court of Makerere Williams (6-7) and Jalen Haynes (6-8) both had two fouls by early in the second quarter
Down by five points midway through the second quarter, Dillard regained the lead to take a 37-29 advantage at the break. The difference for the Panthers was they were 13 of 21 from the line, while Ely was 5 of 7.
The Panthers’ 11-0 run was highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers from junior guard Darryl Burrows for a 30-27 lead with 2:34 left in the first half.
Ely and Dillard will begin district play next week. Ely is the defending Class 8A state champion.