Miami-Dade High Schools

Justin Brown, Westminster Christian seek first state title in boys’ basketball

Guard Justin Brown has some coaches at Westminster Christian that were prolific scorers in their high school days.

Marcus Barnes and Steve Edwards, now assistant coaches for the Warriors, each put together some of the highest-scoring seasons in Miami High history.

Brown hasn’t been too shabby himself, winding down a career this week that includes more than 1,600 points — a Westminster Christian school record.

But Brown doesn’t want to leave without something each of those guys experienced in those days — a state championship.

Brown, a 6-2 senior, leads Miami-Dade County in scoring this season with 27 points per game and with clutch performances throughout the postseason has helped the Warriors reach The Lakeland Center for the first time.

Westminster Christian (22-8) will take on Melbourne Holy Trinity (23-7) at 1 p.m. Wednesday in a Class 4A state semifinal.

“Justin is one of those kids that just changed the face of this program,” Westminster Christian coach P.J. Brown said. “He gets our guys going when we need it the most and everyone feeds off his energy.”

Barnes, a former University of Miami and FIU player, still owns Miami High’s single-season scoring record. Edwards, also a UM standout in the early 1990s, averaged just under Barnes’ over 30 points per game one season.

The two, along with head coach P.J. Brown and Sedrick Irvin, who also coaches Westminster Christian’s football team came together to form a team of Stingarees’ alumni on the Warriors’ bench. Another assistant coach Thomas Roque did not graduate from Miami High, but coached there with former Stings coach Marcus Carreno.

Justin Brown has another Miami High connection as he was also coached in travel ball by legendary former Stingarees’ coach Shakey Rodriguez.

“Our coaches taught us that everything has to be earned out there with hard work,” Brown said. “I’ve learned you have to maintain that aggressive mindset on the court and always stay hungry.”

Brown said is the only player to succeed in basketball in his family.

His father, Wilbert, and his brother both played football.

“Ever since my dad gave me a basketball when I was 4 years old, it’s all I wanted to play,” Brown said.

Brown’s ability to score and create offense all over the court has attracted the attention of some schools, including Stetson and Cal State Fullerton, although he does not yet have a formal scholarship offer. P.J. Brown, who’s not related to Justin, hopes that will change in the offseason.

Justin is one of six seniors on a veteran team that won more than 20 games for the third time in the past four seasons. The Warriors also won back-to-back district titles for the first time in school history.

Senior point guard Keon Paicely, averaging 12 points and six assists per game, has been the perfect complement to Brown’s scoring ability in Westminster’s offense. Senior forward Tyler Halfaker and guard John Raine, an FAU signee in football for the Warriors, are also each averaging more than 10 points per game.

“We’ve developed great trust between our players and coaches,” Raine said. “This would be a really special way to finish our high school careers together.”

Andre C. Fernandez: 305-376-4997, @AndreMHsports

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