Miami High girls’ basketball coach Sam Baumgarten joked, “Beatrice Mompremier won the game for us [Friday night].”
Being that seemingly the only thing anyone can say this season about the Stingarees is that they no longer have the dominant center — now a freshman at Baylor — on their side, it was fitting and satisfying for Baumgarten to find humor in it.
Without Mompremier and playing the underdog role because of it in the GMAC final, it was the same result.
Miami High, which hasn’t lost a game in Miami-Dade County in more than three seasons, took home its fourth consecutive GMAC title with a 48-45 win over host Ferguson on Friday.
“It’s great for these kids that have had to live under the shadow of Beatrice, and they don’t really get a lot of limelight and respect,” said Baumgarten, who celebrated his birthday Friday. “[Friday night], a couple of these kids earned the respect from the county and everybody else.”
With 1.8 seconds left and Ferguson down three, Falcons point guard Giolibeth Perez was fouled behind the three-point line, but it happened before she was in the act of shooting. She couldn’t connect on the first free throw and the second was an intentional miss that Miami High (22-3) corralled to seal the victory.
The Stings, ranked No. 3 in the Miami Herald’s South Florida Top 10, won their fifth in a row in the series over Ferguson (18-7) in what has turned into one of the better rivalries in Dade — a series that includes last season’s GMAC final and a triple-overtime thriller in the regional finals.
Guard Andrisia Sweeting led Miami High with 15 points, five rebounds, two assists and four steals and had the Stings up by as many as nine in the fourth quarter.
“Everybody was saying that we can’t do it without Beatrice Mompremier, and guess what? We did it again,” Sweeting said.
For so much that was made of the Stings losing Mompremier, Baumgarten was also concerned before the season that he would lose Sweeting — in a mental and emotional sense.
Sweeting lost her mother right before the season, and her resiliency to come back and be a leader has been critical to the team’s success.
“I remember we had a big game and she was in tears because she wanted her mom to be there. It’s little things like that that she’s fought through, and she’s shown a lot of heart,” Baumgarten said.
Forward/center Philneka Jackson posted a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds. Destiny Weldon and Armani Paschal added eight and seven, respectively, and guard Alandra Angulo dished out five assists and produced a solid defensive effort.
For Miami High, the underdog mentality continues as the two-time defending Class 8A state champs head into districts and regionals.
“The fuel to our fire is that everybody thinks we can’t do it without Beatrice. The other fuel is that we’re playing the underdog role,” Baumgarten said. “Even though we get respect in the rankings, the buzz around the county is that we’re not good, that we’re beatable. That’s been our fire.”
Ferguson sophomore guard Natalia Pineda had 15 of her 21 points and nine of her 11 rebounds in the first half, which ended with her tip-in as time expired before halftime. Pineda scored the first 11 points for the Falcons.
Perez, a Stony Brook signee, added 11 points, five assists and five steals.
The Falcons missed 12 of their 20 free-throw attempts.
Miami High ended the first quarter on a 6-0 run to take a 15-13 lead early.
MH: Sweeting 15, Pachal 7, Angulo 3, Weldon 8, Jackson 11, Richard 4. FER: Pineda 21, Rodriguez 8, Laureano 2, Buitrago 3, Perez 11. Halftime: MH 24-22. Rebounds: Jackson, Pineda 11. Assists: Angulo, Perez 5. Steals: Perez 5.