- Jodie Wagner Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Surging Dwyer and resurgent Forest Hill met on the basketball court for the second time this season Friday night, this time with a district championship on the line.
And like the previous meeting, the top-ranked Panthers rallied late to top the fourth-ranked Falcons.
Miles Coleman scored 21 points, and Javonni Quince added 15 to lift Dwyer to a wild 61-60 victory in the District 13-8A final.
The top-seeded Panthers (25-1) trailed by nine points at halftime, and were down by five to start the fourth quarter before rallying.
With the win, Dwyer earned a first-round home matchup Thursday with either Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas or Pompano Beach-Ely. Forest Hill (24-4) will play the other of those teams on the road.
“The kids battled,” Panthers coach Fred Ross said. “We really didn’t play to our standards, but the kids never quit. We just kept battling.”
As expected, the game was tight at the start.
Both teams struggled through a turnover-filled first quarter, and neither shot particularly well from the outside.
The lead went back and forth in the quarter, which ended with the second-seeded Falcons holding an 18-17 lead following a Phillip Lyttle jumper at the buzzer.
Lyttle, who had nine points in the first quarter, continued to shoot well for Forest Hill in the second quarter.
He helped stake the Falcons to a four-point advantage at the midway point, and then sparked a late run that sent Forest Hill into halftime with a 38-29 lead.
Lyttle, a senior, had 20 points at halftime — more than half his team’s total.
Dwyer finally got hot to open the second half, completely erasing the Falcons’ near-double digit lead.
Behind Coleman, who had a big second half, the Panthers tied it up at 42 with 2:55 remaining in the third quarter.
Forest Hill went back out in front, taking a 49-44 lead with seconds left on a D’ante Daniels 3-pointer.
The Falcons stretched their lead to seven points to open the final quarter, but the Panthers started chipping away.
Coleman tied it up at 57 on a 3-pointer with 1:02 remaining, and then hit a pair of free throws with 33 seconds left to give Dwyer a 59-58 lead.
Forest Hill missed a pair of free throws, and Coleman made two more for a 61-58 Dwyer edge. Lyttle hit two free throws with three seconds left to get the Falcons within 61-60, but Forest Hill could get no closer.
“These kids won’t quit,” Ross said. “They believe in what we’re doing. Sometimes you just get that feeling where you know that no matter how bad it goes, that you can come back.”
Lyttle finished with a game-high 27 points for the Falcons, while Tristan Stephens added 11.
No. 2 Wellington 57, John I. Leonard 39: Bryan Williams scored 20 points and Linton Brown added 13 as the top-seeded Wolverines (27-0) defeated the third-seeded Lancers in the District 9-9A final in Wellington. Jon Philistin contributed 12 points for Wellington, which won its fifth consecutive district title.
No. 7 Atlantic 75, Boca Raton 68 (OT): Kadeem Wilks scored 22 points, leading the second-seeded Eagles over the fifth-seeded Bobcats in the District 10-9A final in Boca Raton. Max Demeus scored 24 points and Cade Long added 20 for Boca.
No. 9 Suncoast 59, Port St. Lucie 48: Chrisnel Francois had 14 points and eight rebounds and Torrin Andrews put up 11 points as the second-seeded Chargers (17-6) defeated the top-seeded Jaguars in the District 15-6A final in Port St. Lucie.
Oxbridge Academy 61, No. 6 Inlet Grove 49: Dante Wilcox scored 18 points, and Ronique Spencer added 15 to lead the ThunderWolves past the Hurricanes for the District 11-5A championship. Dante Moses led Inlet Grove with 26 points.
Jupiter Christian 67, Boca Raton Christian 53: Gedeon Germinal scored 20 points and Gethro Germinal added 17 to lead the second-seeded Eagles (22-5) over the third-seeded Blazers in a District 7-3A semifinal in Pompano Beach. Brandon Brivio had 23 points for Boca Raton Christian.
Grandview Prep 69, Hollywood Christian 51: Cross Partapas had 20 points and nine rebounds and Chance Donovan added 19 points and 13 rebounds, as the top-seeded Pride (20-3) won in the District 7-2A semifinal in Boca Raton.
Coral Springs Charter 63, St. Andrew’s 46: Marcus Pelissier scored 17 points and Jammy Pierre Louis contributed 16 points, but the third-seeded Scots fell in the District 12-5A final in Fort Lauderdale.
Atlantic Christian 40, Miami Christian 38: Britney Carver had 16 points, five steals and four assists and Misha Mericus added nine points and eight rebounds to lead the Sharks past the Victors in a Class 2A regional semifinal late Thursday in Miami.