Posted On: 02/20/20 10:54 PM

Folks..the road to Lakeland began Thursday night as 104 match-ups took place across the state of Florida.

Over in Class 6A, the 5th seed South Miami Cobras (22-5) traveled into Broward County to defeat the 4th seed McArthur Mustangs (15-15), 70-48. South Miami, ranked 10th overall in the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) rankings, landed the first punch of the night with an 8-0 start to the second quarter. Heading to halftime, the Cobras built a 13-point lead to take a 36-23 lead at the break.

In the second half, the Mustangs would counter-punch with a run of their own. McArthur closed the Cobras double-digit lead to five (42-37) with two minutes remaining in the third quarter. Overall, the Mustangs won the quarter 14-9 and trailed by just eight heading into the final frame. With the crowd at its back, McArthur seemed to have control of the momentum with its playoff hopes on the line.

In the final quarter, the Cobras lashed out early with an 18-4 run to take a 63-41 lead with 4:37 remaining. Overall, South Miami finished with four double-figure scorers to close out the victory. With the win, the Cobras will face Mater Academy Charter in the regional semifinals. The Bears defeated Doral Academy, 57-41, who were without the services of injured D-1 prospect Devin Carter. The Cobras saw their 6-game winning streak snapped by Mater Academy in the district championship with a 23-point loss.

Here are the standouts:

  1. Jordan HowardMcArthur:  While the loss might sting, the 2020 forward showed up in a big way for the Mustangs with a game-high 23 points. In the first quarter, Howard hit a pretty turnaround jumper for his first bucket of night around the center of the key. Quite honestly, Howard’s move reminded me of the late Kobe Bryant on the play. In the second half, Howard exploded into the lane from the sideline for a tough finger roll layup. Overall, the senior scored on all levels of the floor and knocked down seven free-throws. At 6-foot-4, Howard can hit from outside while also scoring in the low post.
  2. Arturo DeanSouth Miami: The 2021 point guard paced the Cobras with a team-high 19 points, slashing his way into the lane for buckets when the Mustangs began to close the lead. When he wasn’t scoring at the rim, Dean tossed a pretty lob to 2020 Brandon Sanders for a tomahawk dunk from the baseline. The junior is quick getting to the basket and was a huge reason South Miami fended off the Mustangs over the final quarter.
  3. Brandon SandersSouth Miami: Of the four double-figure scorers for the Cobras, I thought the 2020 center played the best ball on both ends of the floor. Defensively, Sanders is a long player at 6-foot-10 who can disrupt passing lanes with his reach. Against McArthur, the senior swatted away a couple of blocks off weak-side help. Simply put, any hesitation by the Mustangs on the offensive end was in danger of getting rejected by Sanders. On the offensive end, Sanders finished with 10 points, using his size and  explosiveness to get above the cylinder for dunks and lay-ins around the rim. Back in September, Sanders picked up an offer from Illinois State University.
  4. Nicolas Louis-JacquesSouth Miami: When the Cobras made their initial run in the second quarter, I thought the 2020 shooting guard was the catalyst. Louis-Jacques scored ten first half points to lead all scorers. Overall, the senior finished with 15 points on the night, including a pair of 3-pointers. Louis-Jacques has good size at 6-foot-5 and is able to hit over defenders with his jumper. Like Dean, Louis-Jacques holds offers from Stetson and Mercer. 
  5. Malachi Greenwich: McArthur: I was extremely impressed with Greenwich, who finished with 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Listed as a 6-foot-3 wing, I thought Greenwich played bigger than his listing and showed off his versatility with a corner 3-pointer. Over 32 minutes, I thought Greenwich played his heart out for the Mustangs.
  6. Tavoris MillerSouth Miami: While I usually keep this list to five, I thought Miller played a huge role in the Cobras victory. Listed at 6-foot-1, the 2021 guard pulled down eight rebounds for South Miami in the win. I personally love when guards put in effort on the glass, as it leads to possible run-outs in transition off long rebounds. In addition, the senior chipped in with 12 points, including a 3-pointer.

For any South Florida hoops news or information…please contact Michael Costeines @Steins_23 on instagram or follow him on twitter @Mungertown_Mike23.