Brent Davis was content — happy, even — to head to the bench with his fifth foul in the fourth quarter of the Class 7A championship Saturday. Miramar had steadily built a lead on Sanford Seminole and now the Patriots were up double digits in the last three minutes. He smiled as he went to shake the hands of the opposing coaches and then jogged to his seat on the bench at the RP Funding Center. As he headed for his place, Tramaine Stevens cut him off.
Stevens grasped his star guard by the back of his head and pulled him close. The coach told Davis he loved him. A few minutes later, they were rushing on to the court together to celebrate the Patriots’ first ever boys’ basketball state championship after the final buzzer sounded on a 66-51 win.
“All that emotion, all that hard work,” said Davis, who has signed a national letter of intent to play for The Citadel Bulldogs, “it just came out.”
Davis has lived in Miramar all his life. He remembers loosely following the Patriots’ first trip to the final four in 2011, but he mostly remembers Miramar being an afterthought locally. Still, he decided to play for Stevens and his home school. In 2018, he was a key cog in helping the Patriots get back to the state semifinals for only the second time in their history.
On Saturday, he suited up for Miramar’s first state championship, scoring eight points and grabbing six rebounds before fouling out. The Patriots (28-4) managed just fine without his usual massive contribution. Sophomore wing Deshawn Jean-Charles exploded for 25 points and eight on 8-of-14 shooting, and sophomore point guard Faheim Saintleger Meran added another 13 points.
“I let my team down,” Jean-Charles said of his four-point performance in an overtime win against Orlando Oak Ridge in the 7A semifinals Friday, “so I had to come back with something harder today. That was just for everyone who had my back yesterday.”
Seminole (23-7) came in with the plan to speed up the Patriots with its press. Sometimes it worked. Often it backfired.
The Seminoles forced Miramar into 13 turnovers in the first half and didn’t score a single point off those turnovers. Through three quarters, the Patriots had committed 21 turnovers and still they took a 44-38 lead into the fourth quarter.
Mostly, Miramar made Seminole pay for its pressure. The Patriots shot 50 percent from the field and went 20 for 28 at the free-throw line. Miramar went down 2-0 in the first two minutes, tied the game less than a minute later and never trailed again.
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“We only play one style,” said Stevens, who took over as coach in 2015. “We’re disciplined.”
The Seminoles won the turnover battle. The Patriots won almost everywhere else.
Miramar scored 46 points in the paint to Seminole’s 24. The Patriots outscored the Seminoles, 11-6, in second-chance points.
Michael Lott dominated on the glass, grabbing 20 rebounds and scoring eight points. At the start of the season, Stevens planned to cut the forward. Davis convinced him otherwise.
Lott was also a wide receiver for Miramar’s football team, so he missed the very start of the season and took a few days longer to join the team than Stevens would have liked. Stevens was planning to tell the senior not to bother.
“I’m like, ‘C’mon, Coach, please,’” Davis said. “’You cannot cut him because he’s going to be a big asset at the end.’”
Said Stevens: “Ever since he’s been back, man, he’s the backbone of our team.”
In the Region 4-7A championship, Lott had a putback in the final seconds to send the Patriots to Lakeland. Miramar then needed overtime Friday to get into the final game.
There have been close calls throughout, but once February began the Patriots didn’t lose again. All season long, Miramar has broken its huddles by saying, “Hard work. State champs.”
Ever since they fell short of their title shot in 2018, the Patriots have been thinking of playing in a game like Saturday. They were ready once the moment arrived.
“We started winning games and then I just kept believing, and believing and believing. And it came true,” Davis said. “We spoke it into existence.”