Broward County won six state championships this winter season, with the most dominant performances coming from its boys’ basketball teams.
For the first time, Broward County swept the top three classifications at the state boys’ basketball tournament in Lakeland.
That tournament also marked the first time the county crowned three championships in one season.
Although Blanche Ely and Dillard are used to winning in Lakeland and bringing gold back to Broward, Coral Springs won its first boys’ basketball title as the Colts finished 22-7 by beating Riverview 61-57 in the Class 8A title game.
The basketball championship was first for the Colts since their girls’ team won in 1979.
“We’ve been working all the time for four years, us 10 seniors, grinding to get this,” said Myron Dewar, who hit all six of his free throws in the final 42 seconds to lead the Colts to victory.
Ely (20-13) struggled mightily during the regular season and it looked like the Tigers didn’t have much of a shot to return to Lakeland and defend their 2015 title.
Yet Ely turned it on in the postseason, as it often has, and steamrolled St. Petersburg in the 7A title game.
The win gave Ely its sixth FHSAA title to tie it with Dillard — which won a number of segregated-era state championships the FHSAA has refused to recognize — for fifth all-time.
The Tigers have won four of the past five state titles and five since 2007. Coach Melvin Randall is now the state’s all-time leader with seven state championships after winning twice with Deerfield Beach.
“It was all a setup,” Randall joked, referencing his team’s struggles.
“We took all the losses we could so we could come in the back door and do this again. This team could have lied down, but they worked extremely hard and as a result we’re state champions. This is sweeter. This is sweeter even than 28-0.”
Dillard coach Darryl Burrows won his sixth state championship but first in eight years as the Panthers went 28-5 by beating Largo 66-55 in the 6A championship game.
Burrows has coached the Panthers during all six championship seasons to become the first Broward County coach to win that many at one school.
“It’s always great to get another one, but it’s not so much the rings, it’s coming to this tournament and being the last team remaining in your class,” Burrows said afterward.
“The new faces on this team keep me going. I just hope to contribute something to them that will help make them good young men.”
Three Broward girls’ basketball teams went to Lakeland but all fell short of their goal.
Northeast, which upset Dillard and Norland in the regional tournament, advanced to the state final for the first time in school history before falling to Fort Myers 60-45 in the Class 6A finale.
The Hurricanes set a school record with 22 victories and were the last Broward team standing as South Broward and Cardinal Gibbons were both knocked out in the semifinals.
“It’s exciting,” Northeast coach Zach Gillion said before his team left for Lakeland. “It’s even more gratifying knowing that we got there by knocking off two powerhouses.”
Although St. Thomas Aquinas was upset in the Class 4A girls’ soccer semifinals — the Raiders had been the top-ranked team in various national polls — American Heritage brought back a title as the Patriots rolled Ponte Vedra 2-0 to win its fourth consecutive championship.
The Patriots (22-1) now have 10 state titles, which is second-best in the state to St. Thomas Aquinas’ 14.
“This whole night … just kind of went with this whole crazy season we had to go through,” coach Cindy Marcial said. “I’m just so very happy for the girls.”
Broward County also had a pair of championships in competitive cheerleading as Coral Springs won the 2A crown in the small non-tumbling division and South Plantation took first in the large non-tumbling category.
Although Broward’s wrestling teams were out of contention early at the state tournament in Kissimmee, a pair of St. Thomas Aquinas athletes brought home gold.
Sophomore Grant Aronoff cruised to a the 3A title at 138 pounds with a technical-fall victory. Later, junior teammate Josiah Gittman won at 182 pounds despite only taking up the sport three years prior.
“My coaches gave me a game plan and I stuck with it,’’ Gittman said. “I’m so happy right now.’’
Miami Herald sports writer Andre C. Fernandez and Bill Daley contributed to this report.