Miami Christian Nips Florida Prep Falcons In FHSAA Class 2A Title Game 51-48
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Assistant Editor // March 2, 2017
Miami Christian wins on 3-point bucket at buzzer
LAKELAND, FLORIDA – With a near seven foot foot presence heading in the direction of his shot, Miami Christian’s Neftali Alvarez drained a three-point shot from the corner with the buzzer sounding to capture a 51-48 victory for his team to win the FHSAA Class 2A State Championship on Wednesday night vs. Brevard County’s Florida Prep Falcons.
The loss was heartbreaking to a team that had several opportunities to pull away from the eventual winners but couldn’t finish off the now four-time state champs.
The Falcons, who were in search of their sixth state championship, came out soaring running up an 8-0 lead 2:05 into the contest.
Florida Prep owned the largest lead of the game, eight points. But following a basket by the Florida Prep’s Dejoun Small in the paint with 3:39 to play to give his team a six point lead, Florid Prep never scored again.
Miami Christian would close out on a 9-0 run, including the trey at the buzzer to win the game.
Neither team shot the ball well in the contest. The winners were 20 for 50 for 40.0 percent on the night while Florida Prep finished 18 for 48, good for 37 percent from the field.
Sensing his teams shooting woes late in the contest, head coach Julius Reid, who won a state title in 2009 for James Rowe’s Cocoa Tigers and a Sunshine State Conference Title for Billy Mims at Florida Tech, slowed down the tempo of his offensive with 2:38 to play.
With the game tied at 48 at this point and following a partial timeout by Reid, the Falcons held onto the ball for over a minute before calling a full timeout to set another play.
The play worked, the ball just didn’t fall and Florida Prep never had another possession.
The Victors, as Miami Christian is known, duplicated an almost identical possession to the Falcons previous 1:14 possession play call.
They also held onto the basketball for over a minute before calling two timeouts to set up the final play, the last called stoppage occurred with just seven seconds remaining in the contest.
The only difference, the Victors knocked down the shot to win the 2A crown.
Miami Christian led Wednesday night’s Class 2A State Title tilt just four brief times. They went up 12-10 early and took a 30-29 and 33-32 briefly in quarter number three.
The final time they took the lead, their largest of the game, no time remained for Florida Prep to recapture it. The game produced five ties and seven lead changes.
For the Falcons, junior guard DeJoun Small led the way with 13 points. Senior forward Montel Stewart had 12 points, while junior guard A.J. Johnson and senor center Mbacke Diong scored 10 each.
Diong led both teams with nine boards as the Falcons out-muscled the Victors on the glass, 34-28.
While this is a tough loss, the future for Florida Prep hoops appears to once again be promising.
With three of their five starters returning, including both guards and the 7’0 Senegal sensation, Lahat Thioune also coming back to Florida Prep, a return to the glory day when the Falcons won five state championships from 1998-2007 may not be out of the question.
In fact, Florida Prep, who finished the season 23-6, will return seven players that contributed significantly to a great season for head coach Julius Reid.
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