By James Oyola
LAUDERDALE LAKES, Fla. – Pine Crest guard Brandon Knight showed everyone – once again – why he’s regarded as one of the top players nationally in the class of 2010.
Knight, who didn’t score in the first quarter, poured in a game-high 41 points in a losing effort as his Panthers fell to Dillard 74-73 at the 14th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Classic at Boyd Anderson High on Saturday night.
Knight, who had a total of 10 points in the first half, scored 18 of his 41 in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough as Dillard (14-3, ranked No. 1 in 5A) slipped away with its second win over Pine Crest (11-2, ranked No. 1 in 3A) this season.
“Brandon is a phenomenal talent,” Dillard head coach Darryl Burrows said. “We put in many defensive schemes to stop him but, as you saw, he still had his way.”
Dillard, the defending Class 5A state champions, were led by senior guard Robert Berger and forward Fred Landers who combined for 13 first quarter points helping them race to a 24-11 lead.
Berger scored 11 of his 21 points in the first half, going 3-for-4 from behind the arc, while Landers, a sophomore, poured in a team-high 22 points.
Dillard hit six 3-pointers in the first half and extended its lead 32-19 midway through the second quarter before Knight caught fire. The standout guard scored eight of his team’s points in a 13-6 run cutting the deficit to six by halftime 38-32.
The rest of the game belonged to Knight as the All-American went on to score 31 of his team’s 41 second half points using a combination of quick lay-ups and consistent shooting. He also went 10-of-11 from the free throw line.
After a 12-point third quarter, Knight opened the fourth with a 3-pointer that gave Pine Crest, the defending Class 3A state champions, a 56-55 lead and went on to score 11 straight points.
Despite Knight’s efforts, Dillard refused to give up and regained the lead 74-68 with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
Knight, who leads Broward County in scoring averaging 31.7 points per game, helped reduce the margin with a 3-point play and a put back a few seconds later bringing his team to within one 74-73 with 59 seconds left in the game.
After a few failed attempts by Dillard to run out the clock, Pine Crest regained possession with 4.5 seconds left and had a chance to steal the win.
Knight caught the inbound pass and was blanketed immediately by Dillard guards Courtney Ojeda and Sherman Gammage. The standout junior tried to dribble between them in an attempt to find his shot but fell to the floor as time expired.
A foul was not called and the game was over.
“If I would have played better in the first half, I think our strategy would have been different instead of spending it playing catch up,” Knight said. “I don’t care if I scored 100 points we lost and that’s what counts. We have a lot of work to do before we can get back to Lakeland, and it starts with me.”
Notable: Knight surpassed the 2,000-point scoring mark at Pine Crest making him the school’s all-time leading scorer (2,032).
Broward County Top Performers, Jan. 5-11
Jelani Hewitt (G), Northeast, Boys Basketball – Hewitt, a junior, led Northeast to a 73-38 win over Hollywood Hills by scoring 21 points to go along with six rebounds and seven assists on Jan. 6. Hewitt, who transferred from Miramar, did not waste any time proving his worth among the region's best this season after scoring 48 points in his second game with the Hurricanes. The standout ranks second in Broward County (among large schools) in scoring averaging 24.8 points per game.
Kenny Boynton (SG), American Heritage, Boys Basketball – Boynton, a senior, led the Patriots with 36 points and nine rebounds en route to a 74-58 win over Dwyer at the MLK Classic on Jan. 10. Boynton, who was held to only eight points in the first half, dominated the second by scoring 28 points including 18 in the fourth quarter. Currently, Boynton ranks second in Broward County (among small schools) in scoring averaging 30.8 points per game.
Brandon Knight (PG), Pine Crest, Boys Basketball – Knight, a junior, led the Panthers to an 88-69 win over Benjamin with a game-high 36 points and eight assists on Jan. 7. Knight is having an amazing junior year averaging 31.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game.
Alicia DeVaughn (C), South Broward, Girls Basketball – DeVaughn, a senior, recorded a triple-double, scoring 20 points with 17 rebounds and 10 blocks, to help South Broward defeat district rival Cooper City 77-41 on Jan. 9. DeVaughn is Broward County's current rebound leader averaging 18.3 boards per game.
Joanna Harden (G, F), Ely, Girls Basketball – Harden, a senior, led the Tigers with 29 points, 10 rebounds and six assists en route to a 73-16 win over Piper on Jan. 8.
Sandra Garcia (C, F), American Heritage, Girls Basketball – Garcia, a senior, led the Patriots to a 63-40 win over St. Pete's Catholic by scoring 24 points and adding 12 rebounds on Jan. 9.
Jassany Williams (C, PF), Nova, Girls Basketball – Williams, a junior, led the Titans with a game-high 12 points and 14 rebounds en route to a 52-48 win over Ely on Jan. 6.
Miami-Dade County Top Performers, Jan. 5-11
Demetrius Greer (F), Bay Point, Boys Basketball – Greer, a junior, recorded a triple-double, scoring 16 points with 10 rebounds and 10 assists helping Bay Point to a 66-52 win over MacArthur on Jan. 5.
Keion Palmer (SF), South Miami, Boys Basketball – Palmer led South Miami to a 56-50 win over Coral Park on Jan. 6 by scoring 26 points to go along with 14 rebounds and three steals.
Jerron Granberry (F), Coral Reef, Boys Basketball – Granberry, a senior, recorded 20 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists helping Coral Reef to a 81-48 win over Killian on Jan. 6.
Gary Bush (G), Columbus, Boys Basketball – Bush, a senior, scored 29 points to go along with six assists helping Columbus to an 88-68 win over Pines Charter on Jan. 7.
Josh Khan (C), Hebrew Academy, Boys Basketball – Khan led Hebrew with 32 points and 12 rebounds en route to a 62-39 win over Hilel Academy on Jan. 7.
Alyssa Baron (G), Gulliver Prep, Girls Basketball – Baron, junior, led Gulliver Prep to a 52-15 win over Brendan on Jan. 5 by scoring 14 points to go along with seven assists and eight steals.
Aundria Nickles (F), Coral Gables, Girls Basketball – Nickles, a junior, led Gables to a 62-27 win over Killian with 12 points, 15 rebounds and two steals on Jan. 5.
Ana Bush (SG), Archbishop Carroll, Girls Basketball – Bush, a senior, led Archbishop with 11 points, nine assists and seven steals en route to a 48-13 win MAST Academy on Jan. 6.
Rickiesha Bryant (C), Homestead, Girls Basketball – Bryant, a senior, recorded 24 points and 24 rebounds helping Homestead to a 53-22 win over South Dade on Jan. 7.