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Pembroke Pines defeats Edgewater to win school's second ever state title

The Jaguars needed a late second half surge in order to pull away

LAKELAND, FLORIDA- Pembroke Pines Charter head coach Dave Roca knew before the 2023-2024 season ever started, he had to get everyone on the team to buy in to what he was selling. 

Having talented players like Jeremy Elyzee and Josh Harris, Roca sold his players on being unselfish towards a bigger goal: Winning a state championship. 

The Jaguars accomplished what they set out to do, needing a fourth quarter surge in order to hold off Edgewater 59-55 to win the Class 6A state championship at the RP Funding Center Saturday afternoon. The state title is the second in program history. 

"We were up 12 at halftime. We were comfortable," Roca said. "Our job was the first three minutes of the third quarter and managing the clock. (Edgewater) hurt us with the offensive putbacks and rebounding. I don't know the numbers off the top of my head, but they weren't in our favor. That got them back into the game."

Though the rebounding numbers were even at 36 apiece, it would be the second chance points that ended up hurting Pembroke Pines Charter (25-4) the most in Edgewater's comeback attempt. The Fightin' Eagles finished with 22 second chance points to the Jaguars two. 

It looked like the Jaguars for a moment might create too much separation for the Eagles to ever recover from as they built a 12-point lead in the second quarter. Entering intermission, Pembroke Pines held a 34-22 advantage, but it was a lead that Edgewater would start digging into during the third quarter. 

The Eagles (23-8) began battling back behind the play of sophomore wing Donovan Williams Jr., who finished the game with a team-high 17 points and four assists. A Williams Jr. bucket late in the third cut the Jaguars' lead to 36-34 and it looked like Edgewater might tie or take its first lead of the game. 

Not on senior Ramez Zayed's watch, with the guard creating turnovers and scoring a couple big baskets in the final frame. Between the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter, Zayed would score all six of points, overcoming a tough 3-for-13 afternoon from the field. Three crucial steals by Zayed played a major factor in the fourth. 

"I said to Ramez (Zayed) to stop falling back on your heels," Roca said. "Stay on your toes, square him up and make him turn. When (opposing player) turned, that's when (Ramez Zayed) got those steals."

The closest the Eagles would get in the final period is 51-48 when Travis Bonjean Scott hit a jumper. From that point on, the Jaguars would continue managing the clock and making sure it came down to free throws at the end. 

Elyzee finished with a team-high 22 points, three rebounds, three assists and Harris scored 13 points and 10 boards in the victory. Solomon Hughes provided a lift offensively, adding 12 points. 

For the Eagles, the only other player to finish in double figures was Myles Mayfield with 10 points and nine rebounds. Edgewater graduates just two seniors and will return a strong roster for 2024-2025. 

"We dug ourselves a hole early," Edgewater head coach Jon Mason said. "Some teams come to Lakeland and fold, but we didn't do that. We didn't give up and played to the buzzer."

-- Andy Villamarzo | | @sblivefl