Like two prize fighters feeling each other out in the ring, Miami High and Ferguson, the clear cut two best girls basktball teams in the county, went at each other on Thursday night.
At stake was a GMAC championship trophy, which went to Ferguson following a 53-41 win in the Falcons’ gym. But as much as they enjoyed winning their second straight GMAC title, Falcon players knew darn well that there could be much much more at stake the next time they meet.
Barring any major upsets, both teams, like they did a year ago, are on a collision course to meet in the regional finals on Feb. 23 with a trip to the state final four in Lakeland on the line.
“We just haven’t been challenged much all year as far as local games and we definitely needed a game like this tonight to see where we’re at,” said Ferguson head coach Tom Jicha who saw his team improve to 22-4, all four losses coming against out-of-town teams in out-of-town tournaments. “And what I saw was a great deal of sloppiness on our part. Even though we won, I’ll show the girls the tape on this one because if we go to their gym in a few weeks and play the way we did tonight, we might not get the same result. We know we’re going to have to be nine millions times better than we were tonight.”
After a close first half, the Falcons used the third quarter to pull away from a 29-24 halftime lead, outscoring the Stingarees (21-4) 19-10 in the third quarter and were never threated in the fourth. FIU commit Sheslanie Laureano led the way for Ferguson with 15 points while the team’s other FIU commit, Cheyanne Daniels pulled down 10 rebounds. Miami High’s Colleen Bucknor led all scorers in the game with 19.
Miami High also played a little short handed as Lamartrese Wilson and Shakinah Rachel were both out of the lineup. Rachel has been down the last few weeks with a bruised bone in her foot while Wilson injured herself in Tuesday night’s semifinal win over Southridge.
“Without a doubt, tonight was definitely kind of a feel-out session,” said Miami High coach Sam Baumgarten who led the Stingarees to back-to-back state titles in 2014 and 2015. “Tom (Jicha) I’m sure has some things up his sleeve, I have some stuff up my sleeve and neither of us wanted to reveal too much tonight. We know the chances of us meeting in three weeks is pretty likely. It shoud be another great game like last year, hopefully it’s at our place this time and we’ll get an opportunity to get to Lakeland.”
FERG (22-4):Laureano 15, Charlton 10, Pineda 8, Y. Rodriguez 7, Daniels 6, Hunter 5, Terry 2. MHS (21-3): Whitley 9, Bucknor 19, J. Rodriguez 8, Gomez 3, Scott 2. Three pointers: Laureano 3, Charlton 2, J. Rodriguez 2, Whitley, Gomez. Rebounds: Daniels 10. Assists: Pineda 2. Steals: Y. Rodriguez 9. Half: FERG 29-24.
▪ Gulliver (17-5) 62, Doral Academy 42: GP (17-5): Pinder 26, Sanders 25, Haymore 10, Joseph 1. Half: GP 32-24.
▪ St. Brendan 54, Ransom Everglades 41: STB (20-4): Prieto 22, Armas 11, Diaz 6, Fraga 6, Soublette 5, Varios 2, Gonzalez 2. Rebounds: Alonso 6, Diaz 6. Steals: Alonso 4.
▪ Carrollton, 60, RASG Hebrew Academy 33: CAR (12-6): Mas 16, Paneque 15, Shriver 13, Eathakotti 10, McCarthy-Levy 2, Rabassa 2, McWhorter 2. Three pointers: Mas 3, Paneque. Rebounds: Shriver 8. Assists: Paneque 5. Half: CAR 32-16.
▪ SLAM 33, Mater Academy 29: SLAM (19-6): Franco 14, Perez 11, Garcia 8. MA: Lamos 13, Alexander 10, Ramirez 6.
▪ Palmer Trinity 56, Somerset Palm Glades 36: PT (13-5): Bess 29, Friedland 10, Deribeaux 8. SPG: Lee 18. Three-pointers: Lee 2, Deribeaux 2, Bess, Cuellar. Rebounds: Bess 12. Steals: Deribeaux 3, Diaz 3. Assists: Friedland 2. Half: 20-20.
▪ District semifinal: LaSalle 3, Edison 1: LAS: 12-2-2
▪ District semifinal: Gulliver Prep 7, Keys Gate 1: Carlos Arguello 2 goals, Juan Mengoni 1 goal, Christain Hoyos 4 assists. GP: 13-2-1
▪ District 12-5A semifinal: Monarch 2, Boca Raton 1 (OT)
▪ District 12-5A semifinal: Delray Atlantic 2, Douglas 1 (6-5 PKs)
▪ District 15-3A semifinal: American Heritage 5, Coconut Creek 0: Diego Gargiulo 2 goals, Miles Walters, Ryan McGowan and Morris Senior 1 goal each. Cale Torres, Alex Wallace and Benji Grossi 1 assist each. AH: 15-1-3.