Norland’s boys’ basketball team never has a problem reloading for another run at a state championship.
They don’t have to this season.
Led by returning senior guard Zachary Johnson, a Florida Gulf Coast University signee as of Monday, the Vikings return their entire starting lineup from last year’s state championship team.
Norland, which has won four state titles in the past eight years, is aiming for more history this season in Class 6A.
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The Vikings can become the third Miami-Dade County school to win three consecutive state titles joining Miami High and Northwest Christian.
Norland coach Lawton Williams III said this is the most returning players he has ever had following a state championship. Being heavily favored has not created any complacency among the Vikings.
“Experience and depth will definitely be our strengths,” Williams said. “I wouldn’t allow any complacency. We should be good.”
Johnson averaged 13.3 points per game last season, but stood out in the playoffs averaging over 20 points and earning state final four MVP honors.
Norland’s frontcourt will be among the strongest in the state overall. Senior center Tyrell Williams, a 6-7 third-team All-Dade selection, returns and will be helped by 6-10 sophomore power forward Dewan Huell.
Johnson leads a backcourt that’s not very tall, but is quick, athletic and aggressive on defense — a typical strength of Norland teams during its championship run.
Seniors Dalvin Roberts, Larry McKnight and Ryan Mike lead the group.
Norland’s biggest local challenger figures to be Mater Academy, one of the more improved teams in the county.
The Lions should have one of the most explosive backcourts in the county led by junior Raul Frias and sophomore Dylan Frye.
South Miami came up short of winning the Class 8A state title last season losing in the final to Oviedo Hagerty. The Cobras figure to be the frontrunners in a wide open race to reach Lakeland in the state’s largest classification.
Senior forward Joseph Lopez, a Winthrop University commitment, leads the Cobras.
Miami High, Coral Gables and Columbus all figure to be in the mix.
The most improved team in the region, however, could be Miami Beach. The Hi-Tides, who went 5-17 last season, are led by 7-1 freshman Zach Brown, a transfer from Archbishop Curley that SourceHoops rates the top freshman in Florida. Senior guard Marquise Warren leads a talented backcourt.
Ransom Everglades lost top scorer Sam Singer, now a freshman at California. The Raiders return center Alonzo Mourning III and several seniors they hope will help them navigate through a tougher Class 4A road to state that includes much-improved Gulliver and Florida Christian.
Westwood Christian, a Class 2A state semifinalist last season, moved up to Class 3A. The Warriors will have to surpass a tougher region that includes Weston Sagemont, Melbourne Florida Air Academy, Westminster Christian and Miami Country Day.