South Miami’s Toru Dean could only smile as his team ran into the locker room at the end of the first half of the GMAC boys’ basketball championship game on Thursday.
The senior just sank a step-back, buzzer-beating three-point shot with the home crowd cheering behind him, a shot that gave the Cobras all the momentum over North Miami in an eventual 76-52 win.
The win avenged a loss to North Miami earlier in the year in the Junior Orange Bowl Classic and also served as redemption after the Cobras lost in the tournament finals 76-59 to Palmetto on their home court last year.
Dean finished the game with 19 points, fellow senior Lee Flenor scored a game-high 20 and sophomore Arturo Dean closed the game with 16. Flenor added 13 rebounds while Toru Dean added 10 rebounds for double-doubles. Center Brandon Sanders (8 points, 10 blocks, 10 rebounds) came two points shy of a triple double.
“This means a great deal to us because when we got to this point last year, we lost by a lot,” said South Miami coach Robert Doctor. “This was a great win for our seniors.”
After a 21-21 first quarter where both teams matched each other tit for tat, South Miami slowed down the pace and took full advantage. The Cobras closed out the first half on a 12-4 run — capped by Toru Dean’s buzzer-beating three-pointer — to go into the locker room ahead 40-31.
“When it left his hands,” Doctor said, “I knew it was going in.”
The lead ballooned to 51-36 after South Miami held North Miami to just five points in the third quarter and cruised from there.
Carlos Hart led North Miami with 13 points.