The Palm Beach Lakes boys basketball team advanced all the way to the Class 8A state semifinals back in March before falling to Tallahassee-Lincoln.
But gone off that 25-4 squad are four starters, including leading scorer Lavorris Givins. Ty Hands is coach Lorenzo Hands’ only returning starter on a 2017-18 roster that includes just two seniors.
On Saturday, the young Rams took a big step toward growing up with a 60-55 victory over Deerfield Beach in the Kreul Showcase at Monarch High School. The victory comes one day after Lakes lost a 78-74 heart-breaker to rival Dwyer in overtime.
“I knew coming in to this game we were going to have somewhat of a letdown because we had a tough game last night versus Dwyer,” Lorenzo Hands said. “So I was a little nervous coming in, but they responded well. This is a very tough (Deerfield) team because their intensity kind of matches Dwyer, in a sense. They try to keep everything up-tempo.”
The victory is Lakes’ first after two losses to start the year. The Rams trailed Deerfield 31-30 at the half and didn’t grab the lead until Hands’ two free throws with 1:12 remaining gave Lakes a 56-55 advantage.
Steven Ayuso turned a turnover into a Lakes 58-55 lead and Denzel Robinson finished the scoring with two free throws with 3.8 seconds remaining.
“They were tough,” said Ty Hands, who led Lakes with 14 points. “They were a very physical team. You just have to play our game and stay focused.”
Hands has one scholarship offer to this point — from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. Ayuso added 13 points for the Rams. Hansley Senatus led Deerfield with 15 points.
“When you shoot 15 for 28 from the free-throw line and you miss about 16 or 17 layups, you deserve to lose the game,” Deerfield Beach coach Kenny Brown said.
The matchup was one of seven contests on Day 2 of the Showcase. Oxbridge Academy lost its first game of the season, 71-49, to two-time defending state champion Fort Lauderdale Dillard.
Oxbridge (2-1) was playing without two of its top players. Ole Miss football commit Keidron Smith is still playing football, while 6-foot-6 junior Dante Wilcox missed the game with a groin injury, according to the staff.
The ThunderWolves led 3-1 and trailed only 14-11 until Dillard’s running game got going in the second quarter. Dillard led 35-17 at the half and 48-30 going to the fourth quarter.
Dwyer, meanwhile, defeated Pembroke Pines Charter, 59-51, to start the season 3-0.
Dwyer jumped on Pines Charter early, grabbing a 16-2 lead. But the Panthers could never quite separate from the Jaguars. Pines Charter drew within four twice in the fourth quarter — 44-40 and 51-47 — before the Panthers pulled away late.
Senior sharpshooter Miles Coleman led Dwyer with 19 points and Eddie Davis added 16.
“I’m in a different role now that Tommie Luke and Austin (Evans) are gone,” said Coleman, who has an offer from North Florida and is hearing from Navy, Army, Murray State and Furman. “So, I really have to step up.”
Josh Jerome led Pines Charter (1-2) with 21 points.
Benjamin 74, Village Academy 50: Ben Lubarsky scored 20 points and Kaiir Elam and Jordan Travis each added 12 as the Buccaneers handled the Tigers in Palm Beach Gardens.
Doral Academy 55, Grandview Prep 50: Daniel Montelbano had 19 points and eight rebounds and Tayler Wright added 12 points, but the Thunderwolves fell to the Firebirds in Boca Raton.
Oxbridge Academy 67, Inlet Grove 63: Klein Alexandre scored 17 points and A.J. Cajuste added 15, as the Thunderwolves topped the Hurricanes late Friday.
Spanish River 86, Olympic Heights 61: Jashone Anderson scored 14 points, and Tommy Mullins added 13 as the Sharks cruised to the win over the Lions late Friday in Boca Raton.
Palm Beach Lakes 67, Oxbridge Academy 63: Keishmy Ayuso had 18 points, three assists and three steals, Kevanika Brown added 16 points and five steals and Rashara Simmons contributed 15 points and four steals as the Rams (3-0) held off the ThunderWolves (2-2) in West Palm Beach. Aaliyah Stanley scored 14 points for Oxbridge.
Oxbridge Academy 3, Pahokee 1: Mikale Ameris scored two goals and Blake Weger added another as the ThunderWolves defeated the Blue Devils late Friday in West Palm Beach.