Several of the top senior hoopsters from Miami-Dade County's private schools met at Belen on Wednesday night for one final rodeo in a North-against-South all-star game.
Emulating the all-star style of the pros, defense was optional and often times discouraged. There were a lot of scorers on the court and it resulted in a lot of -- well, scoring.
The North won a 128-115 barnburner, which was split up into two 20-minute halves to fit what some of the players will see as they move on to play college ball.
Chris Mejia of Mater Academy won the MVP award for the North while Florida Christian's Gabriel Perez took home the honors for the South.
Mejia, who is soon to visit Southeast Louisiana of the Division-I Southland Conference to see if that's where he'll sign, slammed home a pair of thunderous dunks -- one off an alley-oop -- in the waning minutes. His athletic build and long arms make him a tough perimeter defender and someone who can break down an opponent with the ball in his hands.
At 6-4, Perez was often the tallest player on the floor for the South. A banger in the paint for most of his high school career, Perez developed an outside game as a senior and showed in the all-star affair he can stretch the floor with his three-point shooting, which will be vital for him in college. Perez is looking at a trio of Division-III schools -- Ithaca College in New York, Ohio's Marietta College and Messiah College in Pennsylvania.
--Also with the length and athleticism that could translate to the next level were Joshua Moncur of Northwest Christian and a pair of Pace Spartans in Phillip Brunson and Isaiah St. Fleur. Another Spartan, Don King (no relation to the boxing promoter, I don't think), put on a shooting display late draining back-to-back threes and having a third in a row go in and out.
--Twin brothers from Divine Savior, Danny and Juan Pineda, were the smallest players on the court but were explosively quick and possess excellent ball-handling and distributing skills running the point. With defense frowned upon on Wednesday, they weren't pressing as often as they may like to, but it's clear they can pester opponents defensively and showed it once or twice with backcourt steals.
--Doral Academy's Fabian Corraliza was sinking threes in the first half and looked a bit like Doug McDermott in the Firebirds' Chicago Bulls-esque away uniforms.
--Homecourt heroes Luis Mejer and Daniel Puente of host Belen drained back-to-back three-pointers late.
--Westminster Christian's FAU-bound football-playing tight end John Raine showed off some flashiness and handles in the open court. A couple other Warriors, Tyler Halfaker and Keon Pricely, got into the act with emphatic dunks.
--Nearly every player on both sides was able to hit one from long range as closing out on open shooters was not a top priority.
Below are the entire rosters from the two teams.
North (Name, School)
Fabian Corraliza, Doral Academy
Chris Mejia, Mater Academy
Oscar Quintana, Mater Academy
Don King, Pace
Armand del Castillo, Pace
Phillip Brunson, Pace
Isaiah St. Fleur, Pace
Joshua Moncur, Northwest Christian
Lino Connell, Greater Miami Academy
Frank A. Garcia, LaSalle
Stephen A. Bier, LaSalle
David Anilus, Archbishop Curley
Danny Pineda, Divine Savior
Juan Pineda, Divine Savior
Corey Friedman, Miami Country Day
South (Name, School)
Angel Sosa, Columbus
David Martell, Columbus
Luis Mejer, Belen
Daniel Puente, Belen
Keon Pricely, Westminster Christian
Tyler Halfaker, Westminster Christian
John Raine, Westminster Christian
Gabriel Perez, Florida Christian
Michael Wright, Florida Christian
Ryan Heckaman, Gulliver
Drew Massirman, Gulliver
David Monell, Westwood Christian
Chris Barrenechea, St. Brendan
Christian Garcia, Archbishop Carroll
Anthony Miralles, Archbishop Carroll