FORT LAUDERDALE — Stranahan held off Dillard, 62-58, Friday night before a packed house in the BCAA Big 8 semifinals at Fort Lauderdale High School.
The Big 8 showdown matched up two Broward County programs who played in state championship games in March and who look to get back to Lakeland next month.
Stranahan advances to meet Pines Charter — an 85-78 winner over Northeast in Friday’s late game — in the finals at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We needed this win,” Stranahan senior Savier McCall (pictured) said. “We’ve got something to prove. We’ve got a chip on our shoulder.”
Stranahan took a 10-point lead (47-37) into the fourth quarter but had to hold on when senior center Inady Legiste fouled out with 4 minutes to play and the Dragons clinging to a 53-46 advantage.
Dillard would cut the lead to one, 57-56, with a little more than a minute to play. Stranahan, however, would hold on from the free-throw line.
McCall had a huge rebound of a Thaddeus Squire miss at the free-throw line with 4.6 seconds left and Stranahan up just two, 60-58. McCall would can the two free throws to put away Dillard. McCall had four big free throws late and finished with 6 points.
“They just needed a 3 [to win],” McCall said. “So I was like go in like an animal and when he missed that shot just go in with all my intensity and I just got the rebound. All my emotions spilled out and I just let it out.”
Senior guard Chayse Culpepper led Stranahan with 14 points while Legiste and Mario Bynes had 12 apiece and Daquion Vickers 11.
Senior forward Jalen Haynes (pictured) had a monster game for Dillard with 31 points and 12 rebounds. The high-Division I prospect went 12 for 12 at the free-throw line in the second half. Darryl Burrows Jr. added 12 points.
Dillard broke out to a 20-9 lead after one quarter. Stranahan then turned the tables on the Panthers.
The Dragons outscored Dillard 36-13 from the start of the second quarter until 1:35 remained in the third period. Dillard began the second half just 1 for 9 from the field.
Stranahan won the Class 6A state title last year. Dillard lost in the 7A state championship game.
Junior Javen Smith led Pines Charter with 26 points and senior Dallas Graziani added 21.
Freshman Matthew Bewley had 19 points for Northeast. 2021 Wesley Cardet added 17.
If you have high school or travel basketball news, you can reach Pat Lammer via e-mail at PatALammer@Gmail.com