If Blanche Ely’s boys’ basketball team is to win its third consecutive Class 7A state championship, the road may lead through Lauderdale Lakes and District 14-7A rival Boyd Anderson.
Blanche Ely (18-2), the state’s third-ranked team in the latest Florida Association of Basketball Coaches (FABC)-Source Hoops state rankings, has dropped just two games all season – both to the Cobras (17-3), who are ranked second in the state. Apopka’s Wekiva High School (19-3) holds down the top state ranking in Class 7A.
Blanche Ely opened the season with 13 consecutive wins including the prestigious Chick-Fil-A Classic in Columbia, South Carolina. Junior Therrell Gosier led his team to the Chick-Fil-A Classic II Championship with 24 points, 18 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. The Tigers won 81-75 in overtime over South Pointe (Rock Hill, SC).
Less than a week later, Blanche Ely dropped its first contest of the year to Boyd Anderson in overtime at the D-Hop Classic at Palm Beach Lakes High School. The Cobras rallied from a 63-59 deficit with 49 seconds left to tie the game and force overtime. That loss ended a Blanche Ely streak of 46 wins in a row against Broward County opponents and 52 wins in a row against Florida teams.
“There were some great teams in the D-Hop with Boyd Anderson, and Palm Beach Lakes in our region,” said Blanche Ely coach Melvin Randall. “I think there are some pretty good teams in Central Florida, but the best teams reside down here in South Florida.”
The state rankings bear that out with Palm Beach Lakes (16-5) fifth in the poll and Dwyer (18-5) sixth in the FABC-Source Hoops state rankings.
Just three weeks later, Boyd Anderson handed the Tigers its second loss of the season as it battled back from a ninepoint deficit in the third quarter to pull out a 65-57 victory.
Randall said he expects his team to improve for the stretch run and credited the leadership of seniors Lance Tejada II and Joshua Floyd, in addition to Gozier.
“Their leadership is helping raise these young ones to William Nightingale get to where we need to be,” said Randall, whose team defeated Boyd Anderson, 78- 75, in overtime on Nov. 30. “I think they are doing a tremendous job.”
Floyd was at Westminster Academy last year, while Javon Heastie transferred in from Dillard. Boyd Anderson has two transfers of its own in Rodney Simeon from Miami Central and Dondre Duffus from Wellington High School.
Both teams were competing in the BCAA Big 8 tournament where Blanche Ely is the defending champion. Results of Wednesday night’s games were unavailable at press time. The District playoffs begin next week.