The Palm Beach Central High School basketball team hosted rival Seminole Ridge High School on Thursday, Feb. 6, grabbing a narrow 64-60 win with a late rally in the final period.
The Hawks managed to hold the lead most of the way, but a young Bronco team with just three seniors relied on their team leaders to cap their senior night with the victory.
“We have a group of kids who are winners, especially the three seniors,” Bronco head coach Jason Pitman said. “They know how to step up and what is required to finish games like these.”
The senior trio of Eduardo Diaz, Andrew Flete and Justin Harrison contributed throughout the contest to keep the Broncos in the game, winning rebounds and splitting the seams in the Seminole Ridge defense.
“Diaz is the ultimate competitor. He wants to win no matter what and will sacrifice his body to come out on top. Flete is one of the most improved players I have ever coached, from where he started to the player he is now. It’s actually quite impressive. Harrison has an incredible gut with an infectious personality. His maturity to fill in the holes that the team has each night speaks of his character and willingness to help the team,” Pitman said of his seniors.
The big difference early on was that the Hawks were able to hit seven of the eight three-point baskets in the first half that temporarily rattled the Broncos. Tylar Cerez totaled 24 points on the night for the Hawks and accounted for a couple of the three-pointers.
Seminole Ridge was more accurate at the rim in the first half to lead 38-30 at the buzzer. In the second half, the Broncos methodically chipped away at the Seminole Ridge lead, tying the game twice.
With less than three minutes to go, the Broncos tied it at 55-55 when Jenarrian Cross hit back-to-back three-pointers and hit a free throw. The Hawks quickly returned the favor from a Bronco foul and reclaimed the lead.
With less than two minutes to play, Cross hit his third three-point basket to lift the Broncos into the lead for the first time in the game, 60-57. With 19 seconds remaining, William Van Hook dropped in two more points from the free-throw line to secure the 64-60 come-from-behind win.
Diaz finished with 19 points and three three-point baskets. Cross totaled 12 points and three three-point baskets. With the victory, the Broncos finished the regular season 17-7 and entered the district tournament this week as the fifth seed.