Basketball High School

Norland Holds Off Carol City, Vikes Win 60-54

Upperclassmen, especially seniors, are supposed to step up in critical moments late in games.

Clinging to a 56-54 lead with 1:23 left, it was Norland’s seniors that came up big in the waning seconds – as Nathaniel Henderson, Cardinal Brown and Cameron Gatlin each made free throws to seal a 60-54 road win over rival Carol City Friday night in front of a near-capacity crowd.

After the Chiefs cut its deficit, which was 13 at halftime and as much as 10 through the third quarter, down to a single basket after a Deandre Pinkney breakaway layup, Henderson put Norland up by one with a one-and-one free throw.

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Henderson missed the second free throw but grabbed the rebound and passed it to Brown. The Chiefs fouled Brown, who went to the line and sank his first free throw to put the Vikings up 58-54. Brown missed the second shot, allowing Carol City to go down court and try a desperation three-pointer.

The errant shot hit off the backboard and into the hands of Gatlin, who was fouled and sank both of his free throws to give the Vikings the final 60-54 lead with six seconds remaining – spoiling Carol City’s celebration of its 1985 and 1988 state championship basketball teams.

Norland (14-5) head coach Lawton Williams, who owns the Miami-Dade County record for state championships won by a head coach with six, said the main reason his team pulled out the intense game was because of the big plays made by his seniors.

“They did what seniors are supposed to do in those moments,” Williams said. “Making those free throws and getting those rebounds late was big…especially the rebounds. For us to get on the boards like that with Reece [Wilkinson] out was huge.”

The 6-foot-9 senior and Tennessee Tech commit left the game twice – first midway through the second quarter with what appeared to be an ankle injury and again late in the second with looked like a knee injury.

He spent the rest of the night on the sideline with an ice pack on his right knee. Williams said postgame that he “hopes” Williams’ injury isn’t serious but also said he wasn’t sure of the severity.

Wilkinson had four points and four rebounds before leaving the game. Stepping up was Henderson, who had a game-high nine rebounds to go along with seven points. Brown led the Vikings with 17 points, Omar Rolle added 11 points, and Curby Toussaint finished with six points and eight rebounds.

Both teams struggled shooting the ball Friday.

Carol City (16-3), which defeated Norland earlier this season, found itself in a down by double digits early because it made just seven of its 24 first-half shots. The Chiefs did shoot the ball better in the second half – speeding up the tempo of the game by turning on a full court press – allowing them to chip away at Norland’s lead.

Chiefs junior guard Jevon Leider scored 15 points in the second half – including four three-pointers – to total a game-high 21 points. Senior Marlon Smith, who was Carol City’s football team’s starting quarterback this past season, added 13 points and two steals while Pinkney finished with 10 points and eight boards.

There was no love lost between the rivals, who didn’t shake hands after the game. Although, there’s a possibility for a third matchup between the schools in the comings weeks in the GMAC Championship Tournament – which will take place February 5-8.

Williams said that he’s solely focused on his team improving.

“We just have to keep finding ways to grind out games,” Williams said. “We just have to keep improving.”

Box Score

Norland 60, Carol City 54 – NOR (14-5): C. Brown 17, Rolle 11, Henderson 7, Gatlin 7, Toussaint 6, Spenkuch 6, Wilkinson 4, Wilson 2. CC (16-3): Laider 21, M. Smith 13, Pinkney 10, Z. Wilson 6, Palms 2. Halftime: NOR 35-22. Three-pointers: Laider 4, C. Brown 2, Rolle 2, Smith. Technicals: Spenkuch. Fouled out: Z. Wilson. Rebounds: Henderson 9. Assists: 2 tied 2. Steals: C. Brown 2.



Carol City


60 54
Field Goals 19/40


Field Goal Pct.

.475 .380
Three-pointers: 4/10


Three-point Pct.

.400 .200
Free Throws 17/28


Free Throw Pct.

.607 .523
Rebounds 35



7 6
Steals 5



3 1
Turnovers 17


Team Fouls



J.T. Wilcox
J.T. Wilcox is an award-winning sports journalist who has worked in South Florida for more than a decade. He authors "The Bald Predictions" blog and "The Baldcast" podcast.

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