For all the talented boys basketball players and teams Melbourne High has had through the years, there was a big hole in the program’s list of accomplishments.
Beyond the district playoffs, the team had never won a game. Until Thursday. The Bulldogs (26-2) made history this season with a 71-58 win over Fort Myers.
It was the first FHSAA regional win in 14 tries going back to the program’s first appearance in 1969. Austin Awad led the way with 23 points and 14 rebounds. His dunk with 1:25 to play and foul shot following finally flushed any hope of a Green Wave comeback.
“Fort Myers is a very disciplined basketball team. They won a state title in 2010,” Bulldogs coach Michael Soliven said. “We knew we had our work cut out for us defensively.”
Fort Myers star Mark Matthews scored 26 points, but did very little in the middle of the game as Melbourne took control.
The Bulldogs pushed out to a 12-point lead in the second quarter. Both teams struggled to score in the third quarter. Melbourne challenged almost every shot and rebound all night.
“That’s just what we do,” said Garrett McCann. “I’ve never been on a team with more heart.”
McGann finished with 17 points, including six of Melbourne’s 10 in the third period. He helped ice the game by hitting three of four foul shots down the stretch.
Logan Folson scored 17 as well, and his second of three 3-pointers slowed a Green Wave rally late in the second quarter.