It’s Big 8 time for boys basketball in Broward County. While the teams that didn’t make it prepare for districts, eight teams will try and claim the title as the “BEST TEAM” in the Broward. For those of you who do not already know, the Broward County Athletic Association (BCAA) takes the top eight teams in the County public and private (St. Thomas and Cardinal Gibbons are the only private schools associated with the BCAA at this time).
This year’s field will feature a couple of Big 8 regulars, such as Blanche Ely and Dillard, the usual suspects. A few teams returning from last year’s field include Deerfield Beach, Western, Cooper City, Stranahan and Miramar. To round out this year’s field, Coral Springs Charter will be making its first appearance ever in the school’s brief history.
Broward County Athletic Director Rocky Gillis says, “This year’s BCAA/BARWIS Boys Big 8 Tournament should be exciting with some talented teams filling the bracket. Six of the eight teams from last year’s competitive field return to the tournament this year. Adding to the competition this year is a strong Dillard squad and a newcomer to the Big 8 stage, Coral Springs Charter.”
#2 Dillard (15-4) vs #6 Western (17-6):
This game will feature two different styles of play. Coach Burrows and the Dillard Panthers are a traditionally 2-3 zone playing team with its length, and Coach Kelly and the Western Wildcats are an in your face man to man defensive team. The Panthers will use their size and length to their advantage. Led by 6’6”, 2019 (F) Markerere Williams and 6’1”, 2019 (PG) Deshawn Bartley, the Panthers will try and keep this game in the half court where Williams has been tough all season. Look for Bartley to set up the offense while dictating the pace of the game. The Wildcats will try and run at every chance possible. Kelly’s Wildcats are led by sharp shooting 6’6”, 2019 (G) Damari Monsanto and 6’1”, lightning quick 2019 (G) Lavar Miller. Monsanto is deadly from the outside while Miller will be the change of pace guard that can go coast to coast in the blink of an eye.
We spoke with Western Head Coach Ken Kelly earlier today regarding the match-up vs Dillard:
“Getting another chance to compete in the Big 8 again this year is a great test for Western High School. The match-up against Dillard, one of the best programs in the state, is a great test for us. Coach Burrows every year has them competing for a state title. We need to shoot the ball well to try and neutralize their size, and as a team try and keep them off the offensive glass.”
Kelly also added “Damari has carried the load for us being one of the more talented scorers in the state. We’ve also gotten great contributions from Miller and solid point guard play from 5’9”, 2021 (PG) Gavin Ostrow and 5’9”, 2020 (PG) Manuel Buroz.”
R.M.F. Prediction: This game will be closer then most people think. Look for The Panthers to come out in a close one. Dillard 69 Western 63
#1 Blanche Ely (15-6) vs #5 Cooper City (15-6):
This time around the Cooper City Cowboys are facing the Blanche Ely Tigers. This year’s Blanche Ely Tigers may not look like teams of their past which normally consisted of strong guard play and athletic forwards that have the ability to do it all. This team is definitely a defensive juggernaut; Blanche Ely will be making its 13th straight Big 8 appearance, making it to the championship game 8 out of the last 12 years and winning four Big 8 Championships.
The Tigers walk into this match-up lead by 6’5”, 2019 (G/F) Joshua Scott (Mr. Versatile), 5’11”, 2020 (PG) Lamont Evans, Jr, and 6’3”, 2019 (G) Daniel Merrius. Scott is a guy that has a nose for the ball on both ends of the court, and floor general Evans directs the offense, with solid performances from Merrius who has a knack for making big plays. The Cowboys have a tough as nails point guard 5’8”, 2020 (PG) Dallas Graziani who has a stat line of 32.1ppg, 6.5apg, 3.3rpg, and 2.1spg to go along with shooting 40% from behind the arc, 55% from the field and 90% from the charity strip. Now that’s IMPRESSIVE!
Head Coach Eric Kapel had a few words for us: “We have been playing really well lately and scoring the ball at a high level and we are going to need every bit of it during the Big 8 vs Ely. We know what animal we are facing and it will be a fun one to watch.”
Kapel on standout guard Graziani: “Obviously we go as far as Dallas takes us, so we need for him to score and create for others. I also think my freshman Elijah Wyche needs to have a big game rebounding and finishing around the rim. All five guys need to play with confidence and bring their A game!”
R.M.F. Prediction: If The Cowboys can take care of the ball then this should be a good one, if not look for The Tigers to take over with a comfortable win. Blanche Ely 75 Cooper City 49.
(All games played at Ft. Lauderdale High School: 1600 NE 4th Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33305)