Without two key starters, the No. 3 seed American Heritage Patriots fell to the No. 2 seed Hallandale Chargers 61-52 in the district 6-6A semi-final.
Junior Andrew Volmar led a valiant Patriot effort with a game-high 19 points. Hallandale used a 21-12 third quarter to fend off American Heritage, who was without juniors Zaire Wade and Dahveon Morris due to injuries.
The Chargers used an opening 9-0 run out of halftime behind senior Carrington Campbell’s 13 points, all of which came in the second half. Campbell started the run with a pull-up 3-pointer and also using his speed to drive and kick to London Prevlion.
Prevlion was a problem all night for American Heritage, controlling the inside of the paint for a team-high 18 points. Volmar halted the scoring burst with a pull-up jumper in the center of the lane with 5:20 remaining. Without Volmar, the Chargers 13-point cushion heading into the fourth could have been much worse.
“We stuck through this game after starting off slow going down 7-0,” said Carrington. “Our coaches kept encouraging us to keep playing and fight through it, because we thought they were going to fall. We’ve worked too hard in practice to not come out here and win. It’s just putting in that work and we did what was necessary to get this dub out here.”
The breakout quarter for Hallandale was not indicative of the Patriots effort throughout the course of the game. American Heritage led 19-15 after the first quarter and cut the deficit to five with 4:45 to go in the fourth quarter.
The gritty effort by American Heritage was sparked by some of its lesser known players. Kaelan Walters and Solomon McFarlane chipped in with 11 points apiece and combined for six 3-pointers. Eighth-grader Kellen Cashman ran the offense in the backcourt with five points.
While the role players contributed, senior Masai Olowokere did not. Olowokere finished his final game as a Patriot with just 2 points. Olowokere struggled to find his shot all night, missing on an open 3-pointer from the top of the key with the Patriot deficit in single digits during the fourth quarter. While Volmar kept the Patriots hanging around, the lack of a second scoring ultimately folded the Patriot rally.
In both meetings, the lethal scoring threat of Zaire Wade was missing. Virtually a 20-point scorer on any given night, American Heritage lost both meetings against Hallandale by nine points. The Chargers won the first meeting 57-48.
“I told [Masai] he had to have between 25-30 points for us to be in it. That was a key for us. We knew that going into the game,” said head coach Fred Battle. “Then again, Kaelen and Solomon stepped up along with Kellen. We started two ninth-graders and an eight-grader. The young guys got some experience and I think the future looks good going forward.”
Michael Costeines is a contributor for Mars Reel based in South Florida