This year’s edition of the Tournament of Champions’ South Florida Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Basketball Classic took place this past weekend Miami Norland High School. Long recognized as the premier event for high school basketball in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, it allows for great programs and players to cross county lines and play for prestige and bragging rights. This year a total of nine games were played on Saturday, featuring a matchup of alma maters from two NBA stars as well as a battle between the top team in Class 8A against the best of Class 7A.
Game 1: Hallandale vs. Miami Christian
Hallandale brought in a young and inexperienced group to take on one of the better private school programs in Miami-Dade. The first quarter started a bit slow as the players got used to playing at 8:15AM. Things picked up midway thru the first quarter as Hallandale was able to connect on some threes while Miami Christian was able to get some easy baskets in breaking the Hallandale full-court press. After one quarter of play, Hallandale led by a score of 20-15.
The pace slowed down in the second. Hallandale maintained its five point lead for much of the period as the defenses adjusted and scoring was kept down. Miami Christian scored a bucket just before the half-time horn and the lead was only 29-26 in favor of Hallandale at the break.
Neither team was able to manage a consistent offensive rhythm in the third period. With four minutes remaining, the lead was still three at 33-30. From that point on, Halladale went on an 8-3 run as they were able to force turnovers and get to the basket. With one quarter remaining Hallandale’s lead was eight at 41-33.
Hallandale was able to keep Miami Christian at arm’s length for the much of the final period. With 25 seconds to go they were up seven at 54-47. The game got tight quickly as Miami Christian hit two free throws, made a steal and scored again in the span of six seconds. Now the margin was only three with 19 seconds left. Hallandale was able to keep its composure and knock down shots at the free throw line. The young Chargers from Hallandale won the first game of the event by a score of 57-53.
Hallandale was led by 6’3 soph Daniel Laffite with 16 points while 5’9 soph Denzell Osson added 13. For Miami Christian, they were led by 6’1 senior Gio Gutierrez with a game-high 26 points.
Game 2: Miami Killian vs. Miami Monsignor Pace
The first quarter of the contest had a lot of activity but little in the way of achievement. After one quarter of play, Killian held a one point, 12-11, lead. Each team got some easy scores but also gave up some as well. In the second quarter, Killian began to change up its defenses which made it difficult for Pace to get into its offensive rhythm. By halftime, Killian had built its lead up to eight at 29-21.
Pace scored the first seven points of the third quarter and with six minutes to play in the period the margin was only one. Killian quickly got it back to eight with three minutes left. From that point on, Pace would finish at the period on a 10-0 run highlighted by a Malik Price-Martin dunk. With one quarter left to ply, the score was 39-37.
The fourth quarter started with Pace getting a basket to up its lead. With four minutes remaining in the game, Pace held a four point lead. Killian was unable to get any closer for the remainder of the game. Pace held onto win by a final score of 55-50.
Pace was led by 6’9 junior Malik Price-Martin with 18 points and 5’10 senior Simeon Revales with sixteen. For Killian, 6’2 senior Doug Escobar netted 19 points and 6’7 senior Reger Baker collected twelve.
Game 3: Miami Columbus vs. Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer
Dwyer is not the dominating team that they were last year but they are still solid and have 6’10 UNC signee Joell James. It wasn’t that surprising that Columbus would jump out to an early lead at the start of the first quarter. Late in the quarter, Dwyer was able to exploit some holes in the Columbus defense and find James. After one quarter of play, Columbus led by a score of 15-11.
Over the course of the second quarter, Dwyer was able to tie the game and then go on to take the lead from Columbus. Dwyer led by as much as eight points in the second quarter but Columbus scored the last four points. At the half, the score was 27-23.
Dwyer was able to maintain that margin for much of the third period. With four minutes left in the quarter, the score was 32-28. From that point on, Dwyer outscored Columbus 11-3 as James was able to get loose inside and score some easy baskets. When he picked up his third foul and took to the bench, Dwyer was able to run their offense and connect on some jump shots. With one quarter remaining Dwyer’s lead was now up to twelve, 43-31.
With James back on the floor in the final quarter, Columbus was unable to make any kind of dent into the score. They were unable to hit their shots and Dwyer was able to score in transition or get the ball inside to James for scores. In the end, Columbus couldn’t handle the size and speed of Dwyer who walked away with a convincing 58-41 victory.
Dwyer was led by James with 21 points as he was able to show what he is capable of when not in foul trouble. 6’0 junior guard Derek Stephens contributed with eleven. For Columbus, 5’10 junior David Ramos led the way with 14 points and 6’2 senior Julian Chacon scored twelve.
Game 4: Miami Ransom Everglades vs. Boca Raton Grandview Prep
We were very excited about this matchup until we found out that 6’8 Jr Wendale Glanton and 6’4 Jr Ivan Canete would be unavailable for the game. Prep still has a lot of talent and that was evident as they jumped out to a 13-9 lead in the first four minutes of action. At that point it seemed like they relaxed and Ransom was able to come back thanks to some hot outside shooting. After one quarter of play, Grandview held a 23-21 lead.
The second quarter wasn’t as high scoring as the first. Both of the defenses settled in and scoring became a bit more difficult. Ransom was able to find the basket a bit more often and led at the half by a score of 35-34.
The lead was short lived. Grandview scored the first six points of the third quarter and led by twelve, 48-36 after four minutes. Ransom was able to hit some shots late to keep the score from getting out of hand and with one quarter left Grandview was up nine at 52-43.
The Grandview lead would go up and down like the stock market in the fourth. With seven minutes left the lead was down to five. With five minutes left the lead was up to eleven at 60-49. Ransom would cut the lead to 63-57 with 3:30 to go but then Grandview built it back up to ten with two minutes remaining. But just like that with just over a minute to play, Ransom had cut the lead down to four at 69-65 and the crowd felt like it was anybody’s ball game. However, Ransom could never get over the hump and Grandview was able to leave the gym with a tough 73-68 win.
For Grandview, 6’1 junior Eric Mance torched the nets for 36 points. 6’1 freshmen Kamil Wilson connected for 13, and both 6’3 junior Sean Walsh and 6’3 senior Daniel Garga added ten points. Ransom Everglades was led by 6’4 junior Sam Singer with 30 points. He was backed up by 6’0 junior Julian Marx with 15 and 6’4 junior Francisco Tomasino with ten.
Game 5: Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas vs. Miami Northwestern
The game was a contrast as STA had more size while “The West” was small and speedy. The first four minutes of the contest was somewhat of a feeling out process as the score was only 5-5 after four minutes. STA would finish out the quarter on a 7-3 run and lead by a score of 12-8 when the buzzer sounded.
STA would slowly grow the margin in the second quarter. They used their height advantage to control the boards and limit Northwestern to one shot and done. While STA’s offense wasn’t in high gear, their defense was enough to keep Northwestern from threatening. At the half, STA led by seven, 24-17.
The third quarter was all St. Thomas. They got off to a quick start at the offensive end and never let Northwestern have easy looks on defense. They outscored Northwestern 20-10 in the third quarter and seemed firmly in command of the game. With one quarter left, STA led by a score of 44-27.
The momentum quickly swung to Northwestern in the fourth quarter. The seventeen point lead was now seven with four minutes to go in the contest. The speed of the Northwestern team was starting to come into play. With twenty seconds remaining it looked like Northwestern would have chance with the ball and down only three at 51-48. However, they missed their three point attempt and had to foul to stop the clock. STA knocked down its free throws and held on to win be a score of 53-48.
St. Thomas was led by 6’6 junior Steven Haney with 16 points. 6’3 junior Papa N’Diaye added 13 and 6’4 senior Kendall Roberts contributed eleven. For Northwestern, 6’0 sophomore Eric Nottage led the way with 21 points and 6’1 senior Marcus Ghent added seventeen.
Game Six: Chicago Richards, IL (Dwayne Wade) vs. Dallas Lincoln, TX (Chris Bosch)
While Dwyane Wade was nursing his injuries, Chris Bosh came and sat on the bench with his alma mater, Dallas Lincoln. It seemed to help as Lincoln got off to a quick start and never lost the lead. The final score from was Lincoln 71, Richards, 59.
Game Seven: Jupiter vs. Coral Springs Christian
Jupiter was coming off an overtime loss to rival Palm Beach Gardens the night before. They didn’t seem to show any ill effects from the game as they and CSC played an uptempo first quarter. CSC fed the ball continuously into 6’7 junior Nura Zanna and he delivered. After one quarter of play, CSC was up a bucket, 19-17.
Jupiter put five quick points on the board to start the second quarter to take the lead. CSC answered with a 5-0 run of their own to retake control. From that point on, CSC would outscore Jupiter 11-3 and went into the half time locker room up by ten at 35-25.
In the third quarter, CSC exploded on Jupiter. Zanna pretty much had his way inside while Jupiter was unable to knock down shots of any type. With three minutes left in the third CSC found itself up by eighteen. When the buzzer sounded to end the quarter, CSC led by fourteen, 56-32.
In the final period, Jupiter was out of gas and never could make a run. CSC would take the game by a final score of 74-57.
Zanna was dominant for Coral Springs Christian. He had 31 points and 13 boards. He was the only player to score in double figures for the team. Jupiter was led by 6’0 junior Chase Troiano with 15 points and 6’4 junior Mike Edgley with 13 points.
Game Eight: Fort Lauderdale Dillard vs. Miami Norland
In a game of traditional South Florida powers, Fort Lauderdale Dillard came into Miami Norland’s gym. Dillard opened up a quick 7-0 lead but Norland responded with an 8-0 run to take the lead. The teams would trade that lead for much of the first quarter but when the buzzer sounded it was Norland that had the 17-15 advantage.
In the second quarter, Norland maintained that lead and led at the four minute mark by a narrow 22-21 margin. Dillard would assume control for the rest of the period and at the half led by a score of 29-26.
The third quarter was a see-saw affair. Norland grabbed a one point lead with five minutes to play in the quarter then Dillard regained control with 3:30 left in the period to go up three. The game was tied at 39 with one minute to go. Dillard was able to make the last shot of the period and led 41-39 with one quarter left to play.
The game was tied at 43 with four minutes left. At that point, Norland was able to turn up the pressure and Dillard made some critical errors. Norland grabbed a one point lead with 1:30 left to play and forced Dillard to foul them. Norland made their free throws and was able to corral the rebounds from some desperate Dillard shots to tie. Norland won a very tough game by a score of 49-45.
Norland was led by 6’4 senior Cleon Roberts with 23 points while 6’6 junior Jovany Deceus added eleven. Dillard’s 6’6 senior Terrence Smith paced the Panthers with 14 points.
Game Nine: Miami Senior vs. Pompano Beach Ely
The final game of the event could have been labeled the battle for the title of best public school basketball team in the state. Miami Senior is the #1 team in the Source Hoops 8A state poll while Ely is atop our 7A poll. The game was even for the first four minutes but Ely took control by outscoring Miami 9-5 the rest of the way and led after one quarter of play by a score of 13-9.
The second quarter was all Ely as their trapping pressure and ability to rotate and recover to shooters quickly caused great problems for Miami. They led by as many as fourteen with three minutes to go before the half. Miami was able to whittle the lead down a bit but at the half was margin was ten, 33-23.
Ely maintained control the entire third quarter. Their lead never dropped below double digits and with one quarter remaining Ely had actually increased their lead by one and with one quarter remaining the score was 50-39.
Ely had a fifteen point lead, 56-41 with 5:30 left to play and the gym thought the route was on. However, Miami High has a proud tradition and their kids are mentally tough. Over the next four minutes, Miami would go on a 9-0 run to make a game of it with 1:15 left and the score at 56-50. A Miami three and two free throws were sandwiched around two Ely free throws and with 20 seconds left it was down to a three point Ely lead. Again Miami hit a three and Ely connected on a basket with only six seconds left to make the score 60-58. Miami was unable to connect on a three pointer and Ely hit one of two free throws just before the final horn to make the final score 61-58 in favor of Ely.
Ely was led in scoring by both 6’6 senior Clide Geffrard and 6’7 senior Derek Walker with 14 points each. Miami High was paced by 6’4 senior Jeffrey Thomas with 12 points and both 6’2 junior Kimbrel Dervil and 6’2 junior Allen Baez added eleven.
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