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Scouting the Tampa Catholic vs. University state semifinal

By Bob Putnam | Times Staff
Published: March 7, 2018
Tampa Catholic guard Tim Carter (3) drives into the paint past Christian Calvary guard Jerald Butler (24) during the first half of the Class 5A boys basketball state championship game between Tampa Catholic and Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian at the Lakeland Center in Lakeland, Fla., on Saturday, March 4, 2017. (Times)

Class 5A: Tampa Catholic (26-5) vs. Fort Lauderdale University (31-1), 4 p.m. today

How they got here: Tampa Catholic d. Community School of Naples 88-55, d. Oasis 78-62, d. Oxbridge Academy 68-63; University d. Monsignor Pace 81-45, d. Calvary Christian Academy 59-38, d. Booker T. Washington 66-43

Outlook: The Crusaders, who played in last year's state title game, are in the semifinals for the third straight season. They have some momentum, winning eight straight at the end of the season. Tampa Catholic is a young team with six sophomores, three of whom start. This is a balanced team with three players — Kobe Knox (14.1 points per game), Tim Carter (13.4) and Alijah Harrison (10.1) — who are averaging double figures in scoring. University, which won the prestigious City of Palms tournament, is ranked third nationally in MaxPreps' Xcellent 25 writer's poll. The Sharks' lone loss was to powerhouse Oak Hill (Va.) Academy in an ESPNU game in January. Vernon Carey Jr., a 6-foot-10 center who is ranked as the nation's second-best player in the class of 2019 by ESPN, is University's top player. The talent doesn't there. The Sharks also have Scottie Barnes, a 6-6 forward who is ranked as the nation's fifth-best player in the class of 2020 by ESPN.