Ely remains unbeaten

Posted on 19 February 2015 by LeslieM

sports021915By Gary Curreri

So much for déjà vu. For the first half of Tuesday night’s regional semifinal game against Dwyer, it looked like history was going to repeat itself as the visiting Panthers took a 35-26 halftime advantage against the host Blanche Ely boys basketball team.

That was until Ely, ranked No. 7 in the nation in the USA Today Super 25 Expert Rankings, outscored the visitors 49-21 in the second half, including 26-11 in the fourth quarter, and roared to a 75-56 win in the Class 7A regional semifinal and advance to the regional final on Saturday against Miami Central.

The Tigers ran off 27 consecutive wins in the 2009- 2010 season before Dwyer ended the Tigers’ season with a 70-57 victory in the regional semifinal. It was something that Blanche Ely coach Melvin Randall didn’t let his team forget.

This was a personal game, very personal,” said Randall, whose team improved to 25-0 with the win. “I briefly mentioned it to them, but I didn’t have to use it as a motivational tool.”

Therrell Gosier led the way with a game-high 17 points, while LaQuincy Rideau and Diandre Wilson each had 16 points, and Javon Heastie added 12 points in the win for the Tigers, who are hoping to win its third state championship in four years.

The pressure feels like the Coach K situation of trying to win that 1,000th game,” said Randall, referring to Duke University coach Mike Krzyzewski, who recently became the first D-1 college coach to win 1,000 career games. Randall has compiled a 499-141 career coaching record and is in his 14th year at the school and 21st overall. “Knowing where we are and how high we are ranked … with a target on your back, you know it is going to get harder and harder, especially during the playoffs.”

My thing is I have to keep my kids very humble and focused, and also hungry,” Randall said. “With the exception of Cardinal Gibbons, we have been winning our games by double digits and we just have to take it gameby- game.”

Randall won state titles in 1997 with Deerfield (Class 5A) and his win in 1999 (Class 6A) came at the expense of his current school Ely, 77-69. After moving over to Ely, Randall won state titles in 2007 (Class 6A), 2012 (Class 7A) and 2013 (Class 7A).

We have to have a sense of urgency and also increase the level of intensity,” Randall said. “We’ll be fine.”

The Tigers finished 21-5 last season, including four losses to Boyd Anderson and once to Cardinal Gibbons in the Big 8. Blanche Ely lost in regional semifinal to Boyd Anderson last season, 61-54. Randall said it would be special to run the table for the school’s first undefeated season and a state title.

It is all these kids,” Randall said. “They are working hard and they are training. They are hungry and, as a result, they are getting these little benefits from these games that we are playing.

We can run the table,” he added. “I don’t think they realize they have already made history in being ranked as high as they are and I believe that is the highest ranking in the history of Broward County, if I am not mistaken. We still want to get to Lakeland, and we want to go undefeated. We can’t turn back.”

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