Heartbreak for local hoopsters

Posted on 24 February 2011 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Deerfield Beach boys coach Kenny Brown gives instruction to the Bucks during an earlier game this season.

Hopes for state championships for local boys’ teams were dashed this week when the remaining two high school squads, Highlands Christian Academy and Deerfield Beach, each lost their regional quarterfinal match-ups at home.

Highlands Christian Academy dropped a 37-35 decision to visiting Lake Worth Christian in a Class 2A game, while Santaluces rallied for a buzzer-beating basket to drop Deer-field Beach, 54-52, in a Class 6A contest.

Jeff Romeus scored 25 points to lead the Chiefs (21-7) past the Bucks (19-6) in Deerfield Beach; however, it was Chiefs’ senior Corey Johnson who was the hero. Johnson scored his only basket of the night as time ran out to give Santaluces the win. Santaluces rallied from a 52-48 deficit with 1:14 remaining to stun the hosts.

Santaluces’ Jeff Romeus hit his fifth 3-point basket of the contest, and after Kirby Simpson converted one of two free throws for the Bucks, then dropped two free throws with 53.4 seconds remaining to pull to with 52-50. The Chiefs’ Jess Ewald tied the game at 52-52 with two free throws with 2.7 seconds remaining.

The Bucks threw the ball away on the inbounds play to give the ball back to the Chiefs. Santaluces’ Steven David hit a cutting Johnson under the basket for an easy lay-up for the game-winner.

Teias Peaton-Lane paced the Bucks with 15 points.

Deerfield took a 41-39 lead into the fourth quarter after Simpson converted a 3-point play with 1.6 seconds remaining as he hit a runner from the baseline and was fouled by Corey Johnson. The Bucks led by as much as 49-42 with 3:14 remaining on a basket by Peaton-Lane before the Chiefs started their comeback.

Deerfield Beach, which won state titles in 1997 and 1999, hadn’t been to the playoffs since 2004. The Bucks had won 13 of its past 14 games and two in a row since a 67-62 loss to Blanche Ely in the Big 8 on Feb. 2.

Paul Jones had 14 points and pulled down seven rebounds, while Avalon George added 11 points as the Defenders (17-10) edged host Highlands Christian Academy. Senior forward Andrew Smith had a team-high 12 points for the Knights (18-10), which led by one at halftime.

“I give Lake Worth Christian a lot of credit in executing a very good defensive game plan on us,” said Highlands coach Jim Good, whose team had a season-low 35 points in the loss. “In the end, we still had our chances, but it seemed as if it wasn’t meant to be.”

Good said his team played one of its toughest schedules ever with most of its losses coming to teams that won district titles or advanced to the state playoffs.

“We will miss our seven seniors, Andrew Smith, Mike Gray, Justin Dann, Jeff Sullivan, Matt Moser, Lee Izquierdo and Chris Deshommes,” Good said. “It’s definitely going to be a rebuilding year next season – a challenge that I am looking forward too.”

Blanche Ely’s Germain DeCoste, right, tries to drive past Dillard’s Ryan Duncans in an earlier game this season. DeCoste scored 16 points in the Tigers’ 67-57 loss to Northeast ending their season. Photos by Gary Curreri

Blanche Ely dropped a 67-57 decision to Northeast in the District 16-5A semifinal to end its season at 18-6. Clide Geffrard had 22 points, while Germain DeCoste and Anterio Smith had 16 and 11 points, respectively, in a losing effort.

“We had a great summer and with the guys here my expectations were pretty high,” said Blanche Ely coach Melvin Randall, who has been at the school for 10 years and won a state title with the Tigers in 2007.

He also won two state titles with Deerfield Beach in 1997 and 1999. “We kind of jelled over the summer.”

Randall said as high school teams graduate players, he always seems to find a way to sustain success.

It’s a simple formula, he said. “The situation I am in is that I always go with the cards that I am dealt. It is about development. My staff and I try and develop these kids who are considered no names I guess by some people. Somehow they develop into these standout players, which we’ve known since day one, but not everybody knows about them. We may not have the most athletic players consistently, but we try and develop them into those types of players. I give that credit to my staff and also the players, who have put in the hard work.”

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