By Pat Lammer
LAKELAND — Davie University School — ranked No. 10 nationally in the BallIsLife Fab 50, No. 12 by MaxPreps and No. 22 in the USA Today poll — routed Jacksonville Andrew Jackson, 72-46, Thursday evening to repeat as FHSAA Class 5A state champions at RP Funding Center.
The Sharks (27-4) breezed through the final four competition without star 6-foot-10 Duke signee Vernon Carey Jr., who has his right leg in a boot after suffering an ankle injury last Friday in the regional final victory over Westminster Christian.
The only question now is will coach Jim Carr and University School get an invitation back to the GEICO Nationals in New York City where the Sharks finished as runners-up last spring to No. 1 Montverde Academy in an all-Florida final?
University School became just the fifth different Broward County program to win back-to-back boys state basketball championships. The other four Broward programs to win back-to-back state titles are Blanche Ely, Dillard, Westminster Academy and Pine Crest.
“I think our future is exceptionally bright, just because of the guys that we have and knowing how hard they’re going to work,” Carr said. “We should be back here for many years to come. This is our only goal, the state championship.”
University School was one of three Broward schools to bring home the hardware Thursday. Westminster Academy won its third consecutive Class 4A state title and Stranahan won its first 6A state title in school history. The last time Stranahan had been at the final four was 1959.
University School whipped Villages Charter, 91-53, in Wednesday’s semifinals to become the first squad in at least 10 years to win three consecutive games at the final four by 35-or-more points.
This one, Thursday, was never in doubt.
University School led 17-10 after one quarter and 35-21 at the half. The Sharks put the final nail in the coffin, holding Andrew Jackson to 4 points in the third period to take a commanding 52-25 lead. University School unloaded its bench with 3 minutes to play.
2020 forward Jace Howard led University School past Andrew Jackson with 17 points and 6 rebounds. Junior sensation Scottie Barnes and 2020 Roger McFarlane added 13 points apiece.
Davin Daniels led Andrew Jackson (25-7) with 9 points.
University School shot 26 of 48 from the field (54 percent) and forced 18 Andrew Jackson turnovers.
“We didn’t play our game,” Andrew Jackson coach James Collins said. “We tried to play their game. And anytime you’re playing someone else’s game, they’re better at it than you.”
University School has the resume to return to GEICO Nationals. The Sharks’ only losses came to Philly Imhotep Charter and IMG Academy at the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers; versus Sierra Canyon (Calif.) at the Les Schwab Invitational in Oregon; and to Sunrise Christian (Kan.).
“This is a great group of kids,” Carr said. “They haven’t lost a district game in two years. They haven’t lost a regional game in two years. They haven’t lost to a true Florida state high school association team in two years. They’ve really done some special things.”
If you have high school basketball news, you can reach Pat Lammer via text at 954-661-9671.