ff It was about this time last year when the Blanche Ely boys’ basketball team lost a four-overtime thriller to Dillard.
It was a wakeup call that would ignite the Tigers to another state championship.
Following a 1-4 stretch, Ely has strung together three consecutive victories including Saturday’s 69-58 over Dillard in a non-district game at Blanche Ely High.
Lamont Evans paced Ely (11-6) with 21 points, all coming on seven 3-pointers.
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“This was more like Ely basketball and what we have been trying to play,” Ely coach Melvin Randall said. “We finally look like a little tiger playing Tiger basketball. With that we still made a lot of mistakes.”
Ely led from start to finish and led by as many as 16 points in the second half. Dillard cut the deficit to six points early in the final quarter, but never got any closer.
“Ely was probably the most aggressive team we’ve seen all year,” Dillard coach Darryl Burrows said. “We just never adjusted to their aggressiveness. They also hit some big shots at the start of the game.”
The Panthers (9-4) trailed 36-21 at the half, keyed on Evans’ 15 points.
Malachi Hazelton added 16 points and Aderes McCray had 14 points for the Tigers.
Joshua Scott, who scored 26 points in each of last years’ Class 8A state semifinal and championship games, was held scoreless before fouling out.
Deshawn Bartley led the Panthers with 21 points while Chris Mattair added 10 points.
In the girls’ game earlier in the day, Raven White, a 6-1 senior center, converted a pair of free-throws with 15.7 seconds left in regulation to lift Dillard to a 48-46 win, their 13th consecutive victory over Blanche Ely.
White finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Panthers (14-3).
“I knew I had to do it for my team,” said White about making those late free throws. “That was all I was thinking. I felt the pressure to make those, but I had to calm down and relax and focus on hitting the shots.”
The lead was tied or exchanged hands 13 times in the fourth quarter.
Ja’Lean Williams, who led Ely (13-4) with 27 points, got a solid look at the basket but her 3-point attempt at the buzzer rimmed out.
Kinaeja Ling sank a pair of 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter, including one that gave Dillard at 46-43 lead with 53.0 left.
Miami High 57, Coral Springs Charter 34: MH: Justin Neely 18, Davis 12, McBride 10, Fowler 7, Clavero 5, Dorcely 4, Joshua Neely 1; CSC: Reynolds 12, Allen 11, Ramsarran 6, Abell 3, Elmaadawy 2; MH: 9-3; CSC: 12-5.
Westminster Christian 79, Key West 57: M. Montavlo 26, JC Lezcano 13, C. Bell 13, J. Henderson 11, J. Brown 9, C. Munilla 3, S. Stewart 2, N. Feria 2.
Killian 64, LaSalle 48: KIL: 13-4.
Jackson 59, St. Brendan 43: JACK: Romer 18, Prosper 11, Lawton 10; STB: Valenzuela 13, Spina 12.
Palmer Trinity 66, Everglades Prep 49: PT(10-4): Waldman 17, Marley 12. EP: Fajardo 15. HT: PT 35-22. Three-pointers: Fajardo 3, Waldman 2, Aragon 2, Williams 2, Ellis, Arrien. Rebounds: Casares 11, Waldman 8. Steals: Marley 3, G. Friedland 2. Assists: Z. Friedland 7, Casares 6.
IMG Academy 90, Gulliver Prep 77: GP: Sanders 20, Taylor 17, LaMonica 14, Idlett 11, McWhorter 10, Aixala 3, Perry 2 IMG: Strickland 29, Dailey 21, Trellas 15, Ray 9, Berry 9, Cobianchi 2, Smiley 1 Rebounds: LaMonica; 11 Assists: Taylor 9.
Miami Country Day 80, Florida Prep 37: MCD: E. Theodule 23, M. Alvarez 15, S. Shaw 13, K. Love 9, C. Gonzalez 6, K. Godfrey 6, K. Gordon 5, J. Theodule 3; FP: Alvarez 5, Shaw 3, J. Theodule 1, E. Theodule 5, Gordon 1, Godfrey 2, Rolle 1; MCD: 16-1.
Palmetto 6, Varela 0: Maddie Wise 2 goals, 1 assist; Brenda Tomazzi 2 goals, 1 assist; Maria Butler and Brianna Lezcano combined shutout.