As soon as McArthur and Mater Academy were realigned into neighboring districts in Class 7A, it was known the inevitable meeting in regional semifinals would be one to circle on the calendar.
The game Tuesday night lived up to every bit of the hype.
With host McArthur down a point with five seconds left, the Mustangs went the length of the floor to get senior wing Nate Johnson a three-point attempt that he was fouled on with 0.4 seconds remaining. Johnson calmly sank the three clutchest free throws of his life to send McArthur (Source Hoops No. 6 in 7A) victorious over No. 2 Mater 51-49 in the Region 4-7A semifinal.
“I knew I had to get our team the win, so I just concentrated and focused on all three,” said Johnson, who scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and added five rebounds, four assists and two steals. “We worked hard the whole season and it couldn’t end like that.”
Added McArthur coach Warren Gale: “That’s what we’ve been witnessing all year, [for him] to step up and make big free throws like that. We know adults and pros that can’t step to the line and make that type of shot.”
The Mustangs (21-9) will host Blanche Ely in a regional final on Friday night.
Rafael Diaz, who finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and three assists, hit the layup to give Mater (24-5) the lead before Johnson won it.
Kheron Millwood provided the interior presence for McArthur with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Luis Escobar added 12 points on four three-pointers.
For the Lions, Dylan Frye scored all 14 of his points in the first half and Shimoore Stern, who fouled Johnson on the final play, posted 12 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
MCA: Johnson 19, Millwood 12, Escobar 12, Brown 4, Belvin 2, Labastillo 2. MA: Frye 14, Diaz 12, Stern 12, Mejia 8, Duquesne 3. Half: MA 23-22. Three-pointers: Escobar 4, Frye 2, Mejia 2, Duquesne, Johnson. Rebounds: Millwood 12. Assists: Johnson, Escobar 4. Steals: Johnson 2. Blocks: Duquesne 2.
Region 4-6A semifinal — Norland 66, Central 48: If you ever want to figure out how to beat a good team five times in one season, give Lawton Williams III and the Norland Vikings basketball team a call because they figured it out on Tuesday night.
Hosting Central, a team they had beaten twice in the regular season, once in the GMAC title game and then again in the district championship game, the Vikings broke free from a 40-40 game in the final minute of the third quarter, outscoring the Rockets 26-8 the rest of the way.
And it was pretty much thanks to Dewan Huell. The University of Miami-bound Huell showed why Jim Larranaga is going to enjoy his next few years as Huell “took over the show” scoring 17 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter including four monster slam dunks that brought the crowd to its feet.
“This is the fifth time we’ve played them (Central) this year and they’ve come out and played hard every time and knew they would again tonight.” said Huell who also finished with nine boards. “So I knew that I would have to come out and match that intensity. This was win or go home tonight and I had not plans on going home.”
Looking to become only the third team in state history to win five straight state titles, the Vikings (21-4) advance to Friday’s regional final where they will travel to Broward County to take on Dillard which came from behind to edge Boyd Anderson 55-52.
“Somebody told me earlier today that you don’t need to beat them five times, you just have to beat’em tonight,” said a relieved Williams. “We just kept grinding and grinding and we finally tightened the D up in the fourth quarter and managed to pull away. It’s been a little bit of an up and down year for Dewan but he played like an All-American tonight and we needed every bit of it.”
Central, which finished 21-7, was led by Michael Cooper with 19 points, 15 of those coming on five three pointers.
CEN: Cooper 19, Wilson 13, Louis 6, Turnier 4, Nunnally 2, Tanis 2, Pierre-Louis 2. NOR: Huell 38, Jean-Baptiste 15, Waite 4, Foster 4, Andre 3, Carr 1, Rolle 1; 3 pointers: Cooper (5), Jean-Baptiste (3), Wilson, Louis. HALF: Nor 26-25 Rebounds: Huell 9, Assists: Andre 4, Waite 4, Steals: Jones 3
Region 3-3A semifinal — Westminster Academy 60, Sagemont 50: Host Westminster Academy stormed back from a double-digit deficit in the third to beat Sagemont 60-50 in a Region 3-3A semifinal.
Westminster trailed by 11 midway through the third quarter after a three by Sagemont’s star forward Tyler Polley. The Lions then went on a 17-5 run to take a 43-42 lead early in the fourth which they would not give up. Westminster (19-6) outscored Sagemont 20-8 in the final period for the Lions’ third win of the season over their district rival.
“This team’s got something special. They have that no-die attitude. We can come back at any time,” said Westminster coach Ehren Wallhoff, who has the Lions back in the regional final for the first time since 2002. “They’ve come back in the fourth quarter all year. They fight, battle, scrap, and do whatever it takes. I’m just proud of the guys.”
Junior guard Jerald Butler slammed the hammer down on Sagemont (22-8) with a steal and breakaway dunk with 23 seconds left on the clock to put Westminster up by nine.
“I saw [open floor] and I was like I finally get it. I’m thinking I got to flush it hard,” said Butler, who finished with a game-high 17 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Westminster will travel to play Community School of Naples in the regional final on Saturday.
SAGE: Polley 13, Tomas Verbinskis 13, Nik Popovic 10, Luis Hurtado 8, Isiah Kirby 4, Samir Stewart 2. WMA: Butler 17, Zachary Scott 14, Paul Atkinson 11, Chase Johnston 11, Chris MacClugage 2, David Curlee 2. HALF: Sagemont 28-23. Rebounds: Atkinson 11. Assists: Butler 4. Three-pointers: Verbinskis 2, Johnston 2. Steals: Butler 3.
Region 4-7A semifinal — Blanche Ely 67, Royal Palm Beach 64: Mark Houston drew a foul while attempting a three-point shot with .8 seconds left and hit the winning free throw to help Ely edge Royal Palm Beach 67-64. Houston hit all three free throws and a desperation heave from the Wildcats fell short, sending the defending state champions to the 7A Regional final against McArthur on Friday.
Houston, in just his second game back after missing eight games with a shoulder injury, finished with 22 points, including five three-pointers.
Geremy Taylor (11 assists) paced the Tigers early with 12 of his 23 points in the first quarter.
Houston’s heroics offset a big night from Wildcats’ high-flying junior Jules Jasmin, who finished with a game-high 24 points. The Tigers held Wildcats star Leonard Thorpe, who had 31 points against St. Thomas Aquinas, to 10 points.
The Wildcats tied the game 64-64 with 1:30 left after Mark Dixon backed in for a layup. Ely set up a play with 19.4 seconds left and missed four shots at the basket but retained possession, setting up the winning play.
BE (18-13): Taylor 23, Houston 22, Maloney 4, Goodrum 7, Forrest 5, Stampley 6. RPB (21-7): Samuels 2, Etienne 8, Blanchard 7, Richard 4, Thorpe 10, Jasmin 24, Dixon 9. HT: 26-26. Three-pointers: Taylor 2, Houston 5, Forrest 1, Dixon 1, Thorpe 2. Rebounds: Stampley 7. Steals: Forrest 3, Houston 3. Assists: Taylor 11.
Region 4-3A semifinal — Archbishop Carroll 59, Greater Miami Academy 40: Archbishop Carroll with the help of a big third quarter finally pulled away to defeat the Warriors to advance in the 3A regional semifinals.
The Bulldogs were only up by 5 points midway through the third quarter before they went on a 13-2 run, which gave them a 16 point lead into the fourth quarter.
“We were flat in first half but we started playing with great energy in second half, that propelled us the rest of the way,” said Bulldogs Head Coach Juan Hernandez.
The Bulldogs were offensively led by forward Chris Silvia, who led the game with 19 points. “People usually see him as a great scorer but he is also a great rebounder and has a great IQ for the game,” said Hernandez.
AC: Deribeaux 2, Villomil 5, Anglada 16, Fred 2, Garcia 11, Silvia 19. GM: Perez 5, Butler 5, Connell 8, S.Garcia 12, C.Garcia 8, Perez 2.
Region 4-4A semifinal — Westminster Christian 70, Gulliver Prep 68: John Square’s jumper with two seconds remaining sank Gulliver’s postseason hopes in a semifinal loss at Westminster Christian.
But it was Justin Brown who owned the quarter, scoring 17 of his 32 points in the final frame.
“We came out in the second half and pulled through. Coach was talking to us about getting back in the game and we did that. We pulled our team to the victory.”
The Warriors (22-7) trailed by eight in the fourth quarter before Brown boiled the Raiders (14-15). Square and Tyler Halfaker each scored 10 points in the win. Solomon Uyaelunmo netted 19 points and Joseph Jackson scored 18 points in the loss. Jamal Mashburn Jr. scored 15 points for Gulliver.
The Warriors face St. Andrews Saturday in a regional final.
G (14-15): Uyaelunmo 19, Jackson 18, Mashburn 15, Perez 9, Robinson 5, Heckaman 2. WCS (22-7): Brown 32, Square 10, Halfaker 10, Paicely 9, Raine 8, Stewart 1, . Half: WMS 33-30. Three Pointers: Robinson, Mashburn, Perez, Brown.
Region 4-6A semifinal — Dillard 55, Boyd Anderson 52: For the fourth time this season, Dillard and Boyd Anderson met on the hardwood, and like the previous three games, the Panthers came out on top. There was one difference to the storyline this time, as the Panthers (25-5) had to come from behind late in the game for a 55-52 victory and berth in the Region 4-6A finals.
“When he [Cobras’ coach Eugene Richardson] started all seniors, I knew they were coming with us with everything they had,” said Dillard head coach Darryl Burrows.
Boyd Anderson (18-10) threw everything they had early from outside the arc. Brian Patrick scored 14 points in the first quarter, hitting four 3-point field goals, and Jawaun Clarke came off the bench to add 8 points in the second to build a 36-29 halftime lead.
The Panthers used the second half to chip away at the deficit and locked down Patrick, who had just three points in the final 12 minutes, taking the lead with 2:27 left in the game on three-pointer by Bryce Oliver.
“They would go on a little run, and we just had to break it down and maintain our composure,” said Burrows.
Dillard went to the line just five times all night, but converted when they needed to. Dijon Farguharson made the front end of a 1-and-1 to put the Panthers up three with four seconds left. Following a lane violation on Dillard, Cobra guard Sebastien Jean took the inbound pass, but bounced the ball off his leg as he was crossing midcourt before he could attempt to tie the game. It was the third turnover in as many possessions in the final minutes for Boyd Anderson.
Oliver matched Patrick’s game-high 17 points, but the difference-maker for Dillard was his teammate Jordan Wright. Despite playing with a severe cold, Wright recorded 16 points and 9 rebounds.
“Coach told us to come out hard,” Wright said after the game. “He told us no one in the state can guard us on the inside.”
Dillard will host Miami Norland Friday night in the region final, with the winner moving on to Lakeland for the state semifinals.
BA: Patrick 17, Clarke 15, Jean 6, Lynch 6, Brown 5, Adams 3. DIL: Oliver 17, Wright 16, Gray 9, Gadson 8, Johnson 4, Farguharson 1. Half: BA 36-29. Three-pointers: Oliver 5, Clarke 3, Oliver 3, Gray 1. Rebounds: Wright 9. Assists: Jean 5. Steals: Oliver. Blocks: Lynch 2, Gadson 2.
Region 4-2A semifinal - Miami Christian 70, Champagnat 57: Eduardo Camacho led host Miami Christian with 27 points and nine assists in a win over Champagnat Catholic (15-10) Tuesday night. The defending 4A state champion Victors (22-7) will travel to face undefeated Grandview Prep in the region final.
“We have a hard game coming up, but will prepare ourselves for the next few days and be ready,” Camacho said.
Miami Christian trailed early, but scored 25 second quarter points and went on a 18-5 run to close the first half.
Champagnat’s 6-9 center Denzel Jenoure finished with a game-high 29 points with 12 rebounds and five blocks.
MC: Diaz 11, Camacho 27, Costillo 9, Syles 6, Hamburger 5, Beccera 2, Rodriguez 4, Borisma 2, Cogmare 4. CHAM: Jenoure 29, Cortijo 14, Brennon 6, Oquendo 3, Ferguson 3, Coleman 2. Three-pointers: Camacho 5, Cortijo 3, Diaz, Costillo, Hamburger. Assists: Camacho 9. Rebounds: Syles 13. Steals: Camacho 6. Blocks: Jenoure 5. Half: MC 39-27
Region 4-3A semifinal — SLAM 64, Miami Country Day 61: Jonathan Brown’s bucket with 3.2 seconds and the ensuing technical foul on Miami Country Day (19-16) for calling a timeout after having run out them put SLAM Academy (22-4) a step closer to Lakeland. For the Titans, the 64-61 victory was a game of redemption as it was these same Spartans defeated them in the district title game a couple of weeks ago.
Kaevon Tyler had a sensational game leading all scorers with 28 points; 15 of them coming in the third period. Brown came up huge scoring 12 of his 17 points in the final stanza as they fought back from a nine-point deficit outscoring the Spartans 40-30 in the second half.
“After this win I was so proud of my guys,” said coach Rodney Cunningham. “With all the adversity they have gone through this entire season, with me having to step in so late in the season, I am proud of the way the way these guys came together.”
Miami Country was led by Ibrahim Doumbia with 13 points, 9 rebounds and six blocks. Michael Lynott also had 13 points and Anthony Cambo pitched in with 12 points in a losing cause.
SLAM will now play Archbishop Carroll for a spot in the state semifinals.
Region 3-8A semifinal - Coral Springs 75, Cypress Bay 72
Region 4-5A semifinal - Coconut Creek 55, Riviera Beach Suncoast 52
Region 4-4A semifinal - Boca St. Andrew’s 50, Chaminade-Madonna 47
Region 4-2A semifinal - Boca Grandview Prep 85, Zion Lutheran 84