By Dave Brousseau
FORT LAUDERDALE – For the fifth time in the 22-year history of the BCAA/BARWIS boys Big 8 Tournament, Blanche Ely and Dillard will play the championship.
Dillard clinched its spot in Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. final with a 51-39 over Deerfield Beach in a semifinal at Fort Lauderdale High on Friday. The Panthers improved their winning streak to eight games.
Overall, the Panthers (17-4) are a seven-time winner of the Big 8, while Ely is a four-time winner all since 2010.
“I don’t know if we really deserve to play Ely from the way we played tonight,” said Dillard coach Darryl Burrows. “That was really, really, really ugly. Those guys made it look like we don’t coach basketball to them.
If we don’t improve our mentality, you’ll see a lopsided game against Ely.”
The Bucks (20-8) closed to within 38-34 of the lead, but Dillard’s Jalen Haynes helped build the lead to 46-36 with six straight points. Chris Mattair added four free throws on each side of a Fernando Blanco basket.
Mattair had 11 points, while Haynes, Deshawn Bartley and Chandler Mack each had to points.
Victor Robinson and Degarrian Glass who combined for 39 points in the Deerfield win over Stranahan on Thursday, were held to nine points on Friday.
For the ninth time in school history, the Blanche Ely team will play for the Big 8 championship.
But by no means was it a simple achievement despite the 64-59 semifinal victory over Miramar.
“They are a well-coached ball club,” said Ely coach Melvin Randall of Miramar. “I was expecting dogfight. They are an athletic team.”
The Tigers (17-6), winners of 10 straight struggled offensively in the second half, managing just 14 points. Of Ely five starters, only Joshua Scott and Lamont Evans scored in the final quarter with a combined nine points.
Evans made a pair of free throws with 16 seconds left in regulation to make it a two-possession game. Miramar has closed to within 62-59 with 1:02 to play.
Ely, which led by 11 at the half, saw its lead shrink to four points at 56-52 early in the fourth quarter when Miramar’s Reggie Luis sank a 3-pointer.
The Tigers answered with a Lance Rainer basket, briefly putting the lead back to six.
The Tigers played without starter Malachi Hazelton, who wasn’t in the lineup for unknown reasons. Randall didn’t indicate if he would be in uniform for Saturday’s championship.
DILLARD 51, DEERFIELD BEACH 39
DB (20-8): Robinson 2-1-5, Glass 2-0-4, Francis 4-0-12, Blanco 5-0-13, St. Hillaire 2-1-6.
D (17-4): Bartley 3-3-10, Mack 5-0-10, Mattair 2-7-11, Williams 4-0-8, Haynes 4-2-10, Hill 1-0-2.
3-pointers: Bartley, Francis 4, Blanco 3, Half: D 26-17.
BLANCH ELY 64, MIRAMAR 59
M (15-7): Culmer 2-0-4, McMillan 4-3-12, Davis 1-0-2, Sukie 2-0-5, Jean-Charles 6-0-15, Laidely 4-1-10, Price 0-2-2, Green 1-0-2.
BE (17-6): Francois 6-1-17, Fye 2-2-6, Merrius 1-1-3, Guerrier 4-0-9, McCray 2-1-6, Scotty 3-5-12, Rainer 3-0-6, Evans 1-2-5.
3-pointers: Francois 4 Guerrier, McCray, Scott, Evans, Luis 3, Landely, McMillan, Sukie, Jean-Charlies. Half: 40-29