NEW YORK – It will be an all Florida girls' final at Madison Square Garden.
That's because Dillard (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) opened the fourth quarter with a 17-5 run to blow open a tight game during a 65-44 victory over South Shore (Brooklyn, N.Y.) in the girls' semifinals of the DICK'S Sporting Goods High School National Tournament at Christ the King High School's Father John Savage Memorial Gymnasium.
Top-seeded Dillard's victory means a rematch with south Florida rivals Miami Country Day on Saturday morning, tipping at 10 a.m. EDT, at Madison Square Garden. The teams met in January, with Dillard winning, 66-62.
Dillard veteran coach Marcia Pinder knows the significance of the second meeting.
"It's going to be awesome; I'm really excited," she said.
Dillard's half-court trap in the fourth quarter took its toll on South Shore.
"In the first half, we felt them [South Shore] out," Pinder said. "The defense took over in the fourth quarter."
Destiny Frazier topped all scorers with 23 points, hitting 4 of 6 shots from three-point range for Dillard while Courtney Parson had 13 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists.
"Today we stuck it out as a team," Frazier said.
Midway though the final quarter, Dillard rattled off 10 unanswered points to take a commanding 58-40 edge. The lead swelled to 23 points in the final minute of play. For the game, South Shore had 25 turnovers and were out rebounded, 41-31.
Frazier's 3-pointer with 5:37 left gave Dillard a nine-point cushion at 46-37. Frazier extended the lead to 11 points with two free throws on the next possession.
When Amanda Cruz deposited a 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left in the third, it provided Dillard with a 36-33 lead. The quarter featured three ties and two Dillard lead changes.
Maryland-bound All-American Brianna Fraser posted a double-double, with 17 points and 10 rebounds but made only 5 of 12 shots.
"We had problems with her [Fraser]," Pinder said. "We tried to contain her but had some breakdowns."
Dillard continued its steady play in third going up by 6 points only to see South Shore's Fraser hit a fadeaway 15-footer with 5:20 left trimming the deficit to 29-27.
Dillard's offense stalled for most of the second quarter but closed with a 25-23 lead. South Shore held a 23-20 edge but Jade Wyatt's layup and Frazier's three-point play with 8.9 seconds left gave the Panthers an advantage at the break.
South Shore's mavin offensive threat, the 6-foot-4 Fraser, scored 7 points and pulled down 7 rebounds through one half. Frazier had 11 points, draining a pair of threes, and Wyatt had 6. It was a sloppy half with both teams combining for 27 turnovers and 14 fouls. Dillard was slightly more accurate from the floor, sinking 10 of 25 shots (40%).
The fourth-seeded Vikings mounted a comeback in the second taking a 13-11 lead as Fraser sank two free throws on consecutive possessions. South Shore held its largest lead of four points, 13-9, when Ashley McDonald drained a three from the right side.
Anwar Gladden, who guided the Vikings (23-5) to the New York PSAL Class AA title and to the State Federation semifinals, admitted the pressure keyed Dillard's win.
"We ran out of gas in the fourth quarter," he said. "You make 25 turnovers get outrebounded by 10 you won't win in high school basketball."
Dillard took a 9-8 lead through one quarter. The Panthers never trailed in the period but Jordan Washington of South Shore dropped in a layup with 12 seconds left to pull the Vikings within a point.
– Christopher Lawlor reporting