We headed to Somerset Academy in Pembroke Pines to take in the Monday session of the “I Have A Dream” MLK Challenge, put on by Marcus McGee. A full day of eight games was slated, but a pair of games, Coral Gables/Westminster Academy and Pines Charter/Dade Christian, had to be cancelled due to COVID issues. This coming after the event had to twice replace teams within the week leading up to the event. It is a challenge putting on a top-tier event like the “I Have A Dream” MLK Challenge in a normal year, but for McGee and his staff to pull the event off at the near-height of the COVID surge in South Florida is nothing short of amazing. A big round of applause goes out to McGee and his legion of support staff to make the Challenge a success.
GAME ONE: Coral Springs vs. Archbishop McCarthy
We arrived not long after the start of the third quarter. The halftime score was 30-26 in favor of Coral Springs. By the time we entered the gym, McCarthy had turned things around and led by three. That was just the beginning of McCarthy pulling away for the remainder of the game. The final would be McCarthy 70, Coral Springs 50.
McCarthy was led by 6’2 junior Dumitri William with 17 points while 6’6 junior Matthew Newland added 12 points and 5’11 freshman Bradly Saint-Preux tossed in 10 points.
Coral Springs placed three players in double-figures. Jonathan Fils, a 6’1 junior paced the team with 15 points while 6’6 sophomore Gregory Spate tossed in 13 points and 5’10 senior Rashod Morris added 11 points.
GAME TWO: Doral Academy vs. Cardinal Gibbons
The game got off to a sluggish start. At the fou- minute mark of the first quarter, the score was just 5-3 in favor of Gibbons. The Chiefs outscored the Doral Firebirds 9-0 over the remaining four minutes to lead 14-3 heading into the second period. Doral answered with an 8-3 run to draw within six at the midway point but Gibbons was able to keep the opponent at bay and held a 24-16 lead going into the break.
The third quarter saw the both defenses stiffen up. Gibbons was able to manage just four points in the period while Doral scored nine, cutting the deficit to just three at 28-25 with one period left to play. Doral took its first lead, 29-28, one minute into the fourth quarter. It didn’t last long and Gibbons had a one-point lead of its own, 32-31, with four minutes left. The back-and-forth continued from there and with 1:30 left to play the score was tied at 37-37. Doral scored a bucket inside with a minute left but Gibbons got a putback to tie the score with twenty-three seconds remaining. Doral had its opportunities on their final possession but couldn’t cash in. The game headed to overtime tied at 39-39.
Doral dominated the OT session. The Firebirds scored the first four points and ended up winning by ten at 57-47.
Doral was led by 6’6 junior Justin Johnson with 19 points. 5’10 sophomore Gabe Hernandez contributed 16 points while 6’7 senior Kameron Johnson added 12 points and 6’3 junior Levertis Williams tossed in 10 points.
Gibbons got 19 points from 6’2 freshman Casey Etienne. Joining him in double-figures were 5’8 senior Daniel Jordan with 11 and 6’5 senior Paxton Kafka, also with 11 points.
Random Thought I: Doral ran some really great sets on offense. The ball didn’t go in as often as coaches and players would like, but the open shots and opportunities were there.
GAME THREE: Mater Academy vs. Western
We had seen both teams last month at the Kreul Classic and we were glad to see them again. Mater got out of the gate quickly and led by nine, 15-6, with just over four minutes gone in the quarter. Western was able to keep pace from there, but were still down that same nine points going into the second period. In a back-and-forth quarter, each time Western would close the gap, Mater would respond. At the break, Western had cut the deficit to seven, 35-28.
In the third and fourth quarters, Mater did just enough to increase their lead over Western. Mater led by eleven, 56-45 after three quarters of play and ultimately won by twelve, 79-67.
Mater got a big-game performance from 6’6 junior Jimel Lane as he led the way with 29 points. Ryan Sanchez, a 5’10 senior added 17 points while Jace Budin scored 10 points.
For Western, 6’1 senior Gary Adams tossed in an impressive 23 points. Matthew Robinson, a 6’3 senior contributed 18 points.
Random Thought II: Mater is arguably the most impressive defensive team we’ve seen this season. The duo of Sanchez and 6’4 Torrance Shelman do a great job both on and off the ball.
GAME FOUR: Miramar vs. Westminster Christian
Westminster Christian set the tone early in this one. James Henderson, a 6’8 senior, blocked Miramar’s first three shots and Westminster raced out to a 16-6 lead after four minutes had passed. Miramar finally got things going, hitting back-to-back three-point shots to get back to within four, 16-12, heading into the second period. Westminster led by six, 22-14 midway thru the period. Once again, Miramar made a run and cut the deficit to just four, 27-23, by halftime.
Westminster continued to hold Miramar off for most of the third quarter. With three minutes to play in the period, their advantage was seven at 36-29. Miramar then switched defenses, moving to a full-court trap. This gave Westminster trouble and Miramar converted turnovers into points with a 5-0 run. Eventually, Miramar would draw within one at 40-39 heading into the final period. A 7-2 run to start the fourth quarter got Westminster back into a comfort zone with four minutes remaining. That didn’t last, as Miramar drew to within two, 48-46, with 2:30 left to play. However, Miramar couldn’t climb all the way back up the hill. Westminster held them off at the foul line to win 53-48.
Charlie Bell, a 6’3 junior, led Westminster with 18 points. Danny Fernandez, a 5’10 sophomore added 11 points while Henderson also contributed 11 points to go along with 5 blocked shots.
Miramar place three players in double-figures. 6’6 junior DeShawn Jean-Charles had 13 points, 6’5 junior Faheim Meran added 12 points and 6’1 senior Khamaury McMillan tossed in 11 points.
GAME FIVE: Pine Crest vs. Cypress Bay
Much to our dismay, this one got away from Cypress Bay early. Behind 6’6 juniors Ausar and Amen Thompson, Pine Crest led 14-0 with 5:39 left in the first quarter, forcing Cypress Bay to call its second time-out of the period. The Lightning finally got things under control and actually outscored Pine Crest 8-7 the rest of the quarter. Cypress Bay was able to stay with Pine Crest for the first four minutes of the second period as the margin remained at thirteen, 25-12 midway through. At that point, Pine Crest again got on a roll and by the time the horn sounded for half-time, the margin had grown to 37-14.
Cypress Bay continued to struggle to generate offense in the third and Pine Crest took advantage. Going into the final period with Pine Crest up 56-27, there was a real concern the running clock might kick in. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Whether Pine Crest backed off or Cypress Bay finally got things rolling is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is that Pine Crest was impressive in winning 78-55.
This time around, it was Amen Thompson that paced Pine Crest. He tossed in 29 points while twin brother Ausur added 23 points. Eros Carpio, a 6’4 senior, got in on the action, contributing 18 points.
For Cypress Bay, Jordan Hinds tossed in 18 points while Gordon Maxwell contributed 13 points.
Random Thought III: As good as the Thompson twins are, it would certainly make for an interesting game between Pine Crest and Mater Academy. Arguably the two best teams in South Florida not named Calvary Christian, it would certainly be a test of the Immovable Object (Mater Academy defense) vs. the Irresistible Force (Pine Crest offense)
GAME SIX: Miami Palmetto vs. Somerset Academy Pembroke Pines
The host school took the floor in what turned out to be the final game of the night. The early going was a bit sluggish as the score was tied 6-6 midway thru the first period. Palmetto was the first team to break through, finishing the quarter with a 14-5 run to go up nine, 20-11. Somerset was able to make some headway in the first part of the period and was within six, 24-18, midway thru. As in the first period, Palmetto was able to go on a run. At the half, Palmetto’s lead was in double-digits at 40-29.
Somerset continued to struggle at both ends of the floor in the third quarter. Palmetto grew its lead to thirteen midway thru and led by eighteen, 68-50, with one period left to play. The fourth quarter opened with Somerset extending its defense. This caused Palmetto issues and Somerset capitalized on them. A 14-2 run by Somerset brought them to within six points, 70-64, with 4:30 left to play, plenty of time to get into the winner’s circle. After a timeout to re-group, Palmetto responded with a 9-2 run of their own over the next minute-plus, effectively putting out Somerset’s fire. Palmetto would go on to win comfortably, 89-75.
Palmetto got a big-time performance from 6’3 senior David Pazo with 28 points. Warner Davis, a 6’1 junior added 21 points while 5’9 junior Adam Cohen contributed 15 points and 6’4 senior Sean Zabari tossed in 14 points.
For Somerset, 6’0 senior Jon Renois went off for 34 points. 6’3 sophomore Iverson Yacinthe added 12 points and 6’4 sophomore David Delancey finished with 11 points.