Guard Eduardo Camacho, who struggled with three fouls early in the game, drained a three-pointer at time expired to lift Miami Christian to a 69-67 victory Thursday at American Airlines Arena and start the celebration. Players mobbed Camacho in a pile on the court after the game-winner.
“We made those big shots at the end, simple as that,” Miami Christian coach Juan Cardona said. “Eduardo is a very special player and to come out here and make that shot, I’m very proud of him.”
It was the second consecutive season that the teams played to a close game. Last January, Dillard beat Miami Christian 60-57 at the Tournament of Champions Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Classic.
Camacho had a team-high 19 points in that game, leading a fourth-quarter comeback that eventually would fall short.
Thursday, a Dillard turnover with less than a minute left allowed Miami Christian’s Josh Rosario to pick up an uncontested layup, giving the Victors a 66-64 lead.
Dillard responded with 17 seconds remaining as senior guard Jordan Wright hit an uncharacteristic shot from the beyond the arc to give the Panthers a one-point lead.That set the stage for Camacho
The original play called for senior center Felipe Haase, a South Carolina signee, in the post. But he was covered, leaving Camacho with a good look on the perimeter.
“I was worried because that play was not designed for me,” Camacho said. “But I got the open look, I heard Coach say, ‘Shoot’ and, thank God, it went in.”
The Victors had a balanced offensive effort with four players scoring in double figures – paced by Haase with 18 points.
Rosario added 15 points – and three three-pointers – and Camacho finished with 11 points, nine in the second half.
Dillard’s “Big Two” – forwards Wright and Raiquan Gray – was held in check by Miami Christian’s aggressive defense and hurt late in the game by foul trouble. Gray was forced to sit on the bench for most of the fourth quarter with four fouls while Wright picked up three fouls.
Miami Christian held Gray – a Florida State signee – to a modest nine points while Wright, the Miami Herald’s Class 5A-8A Broward Player of the Year, led the Panthers with 13 points.