Westminster Academy coach Ehren Wallhoff watched several talented boys’ basketball teams’ seasons end over the past decade at the hands of some of Broward County’s best.
“We’ve had to go up against Brandon Knight, Kenny Boynton, Fab Melo … all those guys at one point or another in our district,” Wallhoff said. “We’ve always been in the mix but never quite deep enough to get over the hump.”
This year, the Lions didn’t get left behind.
Wallhoff, who two decades ago played for Westminster Academy in a state final four, will coach the Lions on Tuesday in what he hopes will be the first of two wins for them in the Class 3A state tournament at The Lakeland Center.
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Westminster Academy (22-6), the No. 2 ranked team in the state in Class 3A, will take on top-ranked Orlando First Academy (25-5) at 6 p.m. in a state semifinal that will be followed by third-ranked Windermere Prep taking on fourth-ranked Archbishop Carroll at 8 p.m.
The Lions will play at state for the first time since 2002 when they won their lone state championship.
Wallhoff became the team’s coach the following season. But times have been tough since shortly after with Westminster not even making the regional playoffs since 2005.
Things changed this season, but not because of the arrival of a singular superstar player.
The Lions have had a young core group emerge and become one of the most explosive teams in the state, averaging 74.7 points per game in the regional playoffs. And Westminster overcame one of its biggest obstacles when it beat longtime powerhouse Sagemont three times during the season.
“We have a multitude of guys that can step in and make shots,” Wallhoff said. “Guys are stepping up and carrying the load. But the difference is every player on the team’s role is a little different. One’s a shooter, one’s a distributor, one’s a slasher, one’s a rebounder. But they all complement each other very well.”
At the forefront are a trio of guards — 6-4 sophomore Zach Scott, 6-4 junior Jerald Butler and 6-1 freshman Chase Johnston — who have meshed with 6-9 junior center Paul Atkinson.
Scott, who has played on varsity since his eighth-grade year, led the team in scoring with 20.8 points per game and has offers from UCF, UAB and Vanderbilt. Butler, a point guard, leads the team with 4.9 assists per game, is an FAU and Binghamton target and is averaging 15.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game as well. Johnston has hit 77 three-pointers this season and is averaging 15.1 points per game.
And they’ve all benefited from Atkinson’s versatility near the basket.
Atkinson leads the Lions with 12.9 rebounds per game, along with his 18.2 points per game and has offers from Virgina Tech, Yale and Harvard.
“Paul has a really good ability if teams double down on him to get the ball to one of our open guards,” Wallhoff said.
In addition to junior guard Chris MacClugage, who rounds out the starting lineup, 6-2 senior forward Davi Santos exemplified Walhoff’s team’s unselfishness this season.
Santos, a starter each of the past two seasons, accepted becoming the team’s first substitute off the bench and has been prolific in that role.
“This is a good group that learned from the guys last year on how to work hard and make sacrifices,” Wallhoff said.
The Lions navigated through a tough schedule that included games against Dillard, Norland, Mater Academy, Sagemont and Grandview Prep.
Wallhoff, who experienced heartbreak at The Lakeland Center as a player in the late 1990s, hopes his team will appreciate the rare opportunity of playing in a state tournament.
“I was a part of a WA team that lost in state final on a last-second shot 20 years ago, and I remember how that shaped us as high school kids,” Wallhoff said. “This experience of going to Lakeland is something earned, and now they can finish a dream. They may not know until they finish this week, but the reality is this group has made the statement that Westminster basketball is back and can play with anybody.”
▪ Hialeah 19, Miami Beach 4: Kassandra Roig (3-3), 2 K’s, 2BB, 4 IP. Jessica Gonzalez 3-3, 2 2B, 2 RBI. Dayana Gonzalez 2-2, 2 2B, 5 RBI. HIA 3-3.
▪ Lourdes 12, Coral Gables 2: Nora Zubiaga (4-3). Giana Delandaburu 3-3, 2 RBI. Nora Zubiaga 3-4, 3 RS, 4 RBI. Natasha Gonzalez 2-3, 2 RS. LOU 5-3.
▪ Ferguson 5, Krop 1: WP: Gaby Sanchez. Samantha Oliva 3-3, BB, RBI. Kaina Lisibach 2-3, BB, 2 RBI.
▪ Somerset Academy 7, Miami Beach 2 (at Marlins Park): Angel Perez (1-0). LP: Sam Wientraub. Derek Cartaya 4-4, 3 2B, R, RBI, 2 SB. Gianni Galvez 1-1, 2B, 2 RBI, R.
▪ Archbishop Carroll 14, Dade Christian 4: Alexander Gonzalez (2-1) 5 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 6 K’s, 2 BB, 1-2, 3 RBI, 2 R. LP: David Diaz 4.1 IP, 7 H, 5 BB, K. Salvatore Lorenzo 2-3, 3B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R. Rey Gonce 2-3, 2 H, BB, R, 3 RBI. Lizandro Echemendia 2-4, 2 H, 2 RBI, R.
▪ Hialeah Gardens 5, Reagan 1: WP: Marcos Ruiz. SV: Iroel Ruiz Allan Berrios 2-3, 3B, RBI, 2 R, 2 SB. Nathan Llanes 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 SB. HG 6-0.
▪ South Broward 10, Northeast 0: Stephen Richards (1-1), 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 9 K’s. Stephen Richards 4-4, 4 RBI, 2B, 3B. Noah Chang 2-3, 2 RBI. SB 3-2. NE 0-3.
▪ Mourning 3, Jackson 1: Marcel Guardarrama (2-2), 7 IP, 2 H, 11 K’s, 1-1, BB. Richard Gavarrete 1-2, 2 RBI, BB. Billy Carson 1-3, 2B. ATM 2-4.
▪ Late Saturday — Archbishop Carroll 6, Coral Reef 3: Alfredo Silva 3 IP, 2 H, K. Jonathan Leon 2-3, 2 2B, RBI. Jimmy Heyworth 2-3, 2 R. Ryan Pereda 2-4, RBI, R.
▪ Late Saturday — Florida Christian 15, Belen 6: WP: Juan Rodriguez. Ruben Someillan 3-5. Brandon Chinea 3-4, HR. Robert Fabelo 3-5, 2 HR. Cristian Martin 4-5, HR. FC 5-1.
▪ Ransom Everglades 5, Mast 2: 1. Heather Boehm 8-1. 2. Vivien Fernandez 8-4. 3. Marina Pataro 8-6. RE 3-1.
▪ Gulliver 4, Carrollton 3: 1. Julieta Dalmau 8-0. 2. Lindy Lyons 8-1. 5. Tina Barrios 8-1. GUL 4-0.
▪ Reagan 7, Miami Springs 0: 1. Jennifer Arias 3-6, 6-1, 10-6. 2. Anabella Neri 8-0. 3. Nicole Uzcategui 8-1. 4. Natalia Roman 8-0. 5. Camila Garcia 8-1. Doubles: Arias/Neri 8-4. Uzcategui/Roman 8-0. RR 3-2.
▪ Hillel 6, Archibishop Curley 0: Alexa Cohen 8-0. Raquel Dimitri 8-4. Orli Algranatti 8-0. Nicole Toledano 8-0. Doubles: Cohen/Dimitri 8-1. Algranatti/Toledano 8-0.
▪ Pace 3, Dade Christian 3.
▪ Reagan 4, Miami Springs 3: 1. Andrew Lazara (MS) 6-1, 6-4. 2. Mauricio Villacres (RR) 8-4. 3. Juan Amaya (RR) 8-1. 4. Daniel Horta (MS) 8-4. 5. Ricardo Requena (RR) 8-0. Doubles: Lazara/Harrington (MS) 8-6. Amaya/Requena (RR) 8-1. RR 3-2.
▪ Ransom Everglades 6, Mast 1: 2. Antonio Mora 8-0. 3. Samuel Rubell 8-0. 4. Grant Dill 8-0. RE 4-0.
▪ Pace 5, Dade Christian 2: 1. Josvany Lesende 8-0. 2. Christian Esteves 8-1. MP 4-1.
▪ Hillel 4, Archbishop Curley 0: Daniel Frank 8-0. Johnatan Fuhrman 8-4. Oscar Rimeris 8-0. Doubles: Gamus/S. Rimeris 8-1.
▪ Cardinal Gibbons 16, Cypress Bay 5: Piper Neuls 11 saves. Natalie Lambert also had a great game with 5 goals, 3 assists and 4 ground balls. Grace Loeffler had 4 goals, 1 assist, and 4 ground balls.
▪ St. Thomas Aquinas 21, South Plantation 2: Mallory Cibil goal, assist. Caroline Rowand goal. Jessica Kelly goal. STA 4-0.
▪ University School 13, Satellite 12: Sydney Soltau 10 saves. Caroline Kapp 7 goals. Madison Kaplan 2 goals. Ava Latona goal. Nicole Steiner goal. Juliana bermingham goal. Molly Hauser goal.
▪ Saturday — Nequa Valley (Chicago) 42, Cardinal Gibbons HS 0.
▪ Sunday — Cardinal Gibbons 37, LaSalle College (Philadelphia) 14.
▪ Mourning 10, Sunset 0: Singles: Boys: 1. Sam Bzylenko 21-12,21-7. 2. Carlens Coutard 21-6, 21-16. Girls: 1. Ashley Zaky 21-15, 21-15. 2. Karla Amador. Doubles: Boys: Hernandez/Wall 21-12, 21-9. Vazhenin/Dalcomune 21-15, 21-17. Girls: Gil/Golan 21-6, 21-5. Napoleon/Shaqour 21-5, 21-3. Mixed: 1. P.Eger/A.Radinsky 21-8, 21-10. 2. J.Silverman/M.Datieva. ATM 3-1.
GIRL’S WATER POLO
▪ St. Andrew’s Tournament — St. Andrew’s 10, Ransom 9: Shani Rupp 4 goals. Samantha Rosenberg 3 goals. Elizabeth Perez 7 blocks,2 steals, 2 assists
▪ St. Andrew’s Tournament — St. Andrew’s 13, South Broward 7: Samantha Rosenberg 4 goals. Nicole Aulicino 3 goals. Margaret Rodriguez 2 goals.
▪ St. Andrew’s Tournament — St. Andrew’s 15, Seminole 2: Samantha Rosenberg 5 goals. Shani Rupp 3 goals. Nicole Aulicino 2 goals, 3 assists 3 steals. SA 3-1.
▪ Miami Country Day 8, Boca Raton 6: Amelia Gregorio 4 goals, assist. Maddie Hertz 3 goals, 2 assists. Gaby Palmisano 9 blocks.
▪ Miami Country Day 10, Suncoast 1: Amelia Gregorio 4 goals, assist, 3 steals, SO. Maddie Hertz 4 goals, steal. Madisyn Jones assist, block, 3 SO. Gaby Palmisano 9 blocks, steal, 4 assists.
▪ St. Thomas Aquinas 3, Miami Country Day 2: Sofia Zamboli goal, steal. Madisyn Jones 3 steals, 4 SO. Gaby Palmisano 7 blocks, 3 steals, assist. Amelia Gregorio 4 steals.
▪ Boca Raton 6, Miami Country Day 3: Maddie Hertz 2 goals, 2 steals. Madisyn Jones assist, steal, 3 SO. Gaby Palmisano 11 blocks, 2 steals.
BOYS’ WATER POLO
▪ Miami Country Day 18, Cooper City 5: Sebastian Rodriguez 5 goals, 2 steals. Jonathan Abramowitz 4 goals, 3 assists. Zach Smith 3 goals. Alec Rosen 2 goals, 3 assists. Christian Claramonte 14 blocks, assist.
▪ Miami Country Day 14, University School 4: Jonathan Abramowitz 6 goals, assist. Juan Martin Caro 3 goals, 3 steals. Sebastian Rodriguez 2 goals, steal. Christian Claramonte 8 blocks, 3 steals, 2 assists, goal.
▪ Miami Country Day 8, Spanish River 2: Jonathan Abramowitz 4 goals, steal. Sebastian Rodriguez 2 goals, block, SO. Eric Bernstein goal, assist. Christian Claramonte 11 blocks, 2 steals, assist.
▪ Tournament Bracket — Miami Country Day 7, Lake Brantley 6: Sebastian Rodriguez 3 goals, assist, block, SO. Juan Martin Caro 2 goals, assist, steal. Jonathan Abramowitz 2 goals, assist. Christian Claramonte 10 blocks, steal. Zach Smith 2 steals, 3 blocks. Eric Bernstein 2 assists, 2 steals, block.
Last week’s best Miami-Dade performances
TEAM OF THE WEEK
The Miami Country Day girls’ basketball team became the first Miami-Dade County team to win three state championships in a row. Kelsey Marshall had a combined 39 points and 18 rebounds and Channise Lewis had a combined 24 points and 18 assists in the two games at state.
ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
Justin Brown, Westminster Christian, boys’ basketball: Brown finished with 33 points, 22 of which came in the second half, to lead the Warriors to their first appearance in the state final four following a 60-57 win over Boca Raton St. Andrew’s in the Region 4-4A final.
Christian Silva, Archbishop Carroll, boys’ basketball: Silva had a game-high 28 points and went 9 for 11 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to help the Bulldogs to a 74-51 win over SLAM that clinched their first trip to the state final four.
Zach Dawson, South Miami, boys’ basketball: Dawson had 22 points and five assists to lead the Cobras to a 74-72 overtime win over Flanagan in a Region 4-8A final.
Natalia Pineda, Ferguson, girls’ basketball: Pineda had 13 points and 10 rebounds in a 44-43 loss to Vero Beach in the Falcons’ first game at the state final four.
Franco Valdes, Southwest, wrestling: Valdes won his fifth consecutive district championship to lead the Eagles to the District 15-3A title.
Allan Berrios, Hialeah Gardens, baseball: Berrios had a home run and an RBI in a win against American and went 2 for 3 with a double and two runs in a win over Coral Gables.
Natasha Gonzalez, Lourdes, softball: Gonzalez recorded the pitching win and went 3 for 3 with three RBI as the Bobcats beat Southwest 8-5.
Tyrese Cooper, American, boys’ track and field: Cooper won three events — 100 meters, 200 and 400 — at the Louie Bing Invitational.
Briana Eskridge and Twanisha Terry, Northwestern, girls’ track and field: Eskridge won the high jump and long jump, and Terry won the 100 and 200 meters to lead the Bulls to the Louie Bing Invitational title.
Tom Jaworski, Mourning, boys’ tennis: Jaworski won his match 8-3 to lead the Sharks to a victory over Miami Country Day.
Julie Shillington, Krop, girls’ tennis: Shillington won her No. 3 singles match to spark the Lightning’s 4-3 win over Terra.
Federico Tamborrel, Belen, boys’ water polo: Tamborrel scored a combined 12 goals to lead the Wolverines to wins over Winter Park, Seminole, Ransom Everglades and St. Andrew’s at the St. Andrew’s Invitational and had 10 more combined goals in wins over Coral Gables and Hialeah.
Angelica Barona, MAST, girls’ water polo: Barona had eight goals, six assists and five steals to lead the Makos to a win over Miami High.
Sam Bazylenko and Ashley Zaky, Mourning, badminton: Bazylenko and Zaky won their singles matches to lead the Sharks to a win over Miami Springs.
Walker Gautier, Gulliver, boys’ lacrosse: Gautier had nine goals and two assists to lead the Raiders to a 21-13 win over Columbus.
Andre C. Fernandez
Last week’s best Broward performances
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Jordan Wright had a career-high 19 points, including key back-to-back three-point plays in the pivotal second quarter, to lead the Dillard boys’ basketball team over four-time defending Class 6A state champion Miami Norland 59-47 in the Region 4-6A final.
ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
Phillip Lee, Boyd Anderson, boys’ track: Lee won the high jump and long jump at the Louie Bing Invitational.
Ashley Saintigene, Northeast, girls’ basketball: Saintigene had 10 points and a game-high 20 rebounds to lead the Hurricanes over Orlando Edgewater 43-37 in the Class 6A ste semifinals.
Myron Dewar, Coral Springs, boys’ basketball: Dewar had a career-high 40 points and 12 rebounds to help the Colts rally from a 20-point deficit to stun Palm Beach Wellington 85-79 in overtime in the Region 4-8A final, clinching the Colts' first state semifinal appearance.
Dalton Kazmarik, Coconut Creek, baseball: Kazmarik went 3 for 4 with four RBI to lead the Cougars over Hollywood Hills 8-7.
Andre Dilone, McArthur, baseball: Dilone went 1 for 3 with two RBI to lead the Mustangs over South Broward 6-2.
Brittany Gill, Dillard, girls’ track: Gill won the 3,200 meters and finished second in the 1,600 at the Louie Bing Invitational.
Coby Mayo, Coral Springs Christian, baseball: Mayo went 1 for 2 with two RBI to lead the Crusaders over Coconut Creek 4-3.
Trevor Goodrum, Blanche Ely, boys’ basketball: Goodrum had a game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds to lead the defending Class 7A state champions over McArthur 73-49 in the Region 4-7A final.
Allison Muraskin, Coral Springs Charter, softball: Muraskin picked up the victory to lead the Panthers over Cooper City 2-0.
Nicole Kreisler, South Plantation, softball: Kreisler went 4 for 5 with two runs to lead the Paladins over West Broward 6-5.
Christa Tumminello, Cardinal Gibbons, girls’ basketball: Tumminello had a team-high 16 points in a 69-34 loss to Orlando Lake Highland Prep in the Class 4A state semifinals.