HomeTeam 25: Boys basketball rankings
1. Tampa Catholic (3-1)
This week: Tuesday at Cardinal Mooney; Friday vs. Sarasota Military Academy.
Scoop: In their only game last week, the Crusaders cruised to a 76-59 win over Clearwater Central Catholic to remain undefeated in Class 4A, District 9 play. North Carolina coach Roy Williams attended the game to watch forward Kevin Knox, a five-star recruit who finished with 32 points and 16 rebounds. Knox, who also picked up an offer from the Tar Heels, is averaging 29.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.
2. Gibbs (8-0)
This week: Tuesday vs. Dunedin; Wednesday at Osceola; Friday at Bradenton Southeast
Scoop: Last week, the Gladiators survived two close games against Class 5A, District 11 opponents, beating Tarpon Springs by three and rival Lakewood by two in overtime. Against the Spartans, Gibbs rallied in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Marquez Walls leads the team with 18 points per game. David Pierce, who came back from a suspension, scored 17 against Lakewood and is averaging 17.5 points.
3. Wharton (6-1)
This week: Wednesday at Leto; Friday vs. Gaither
Scoop: It was a stellar week for the Wildcats, who won three straight against quality opponents, including two of the top teams in Class 7A, District 8. The biggest win was against previously undefeated Sickles. In that game, Matthew Tonelli knocked down some big shots and Josiah Crawford came through in the clutch. Wharton showed the ability to win close games, beating Freedom by three and Sickles by two. Wharton is now the only team undefeated in district play.
4. St. Petersburg (5-1)
This week: Wednesday at East Lake; Friday at Seminole
Scoop: Since suffering their lone loss of the season against Sagemont two weeks ago, the Green Devils have won three straight against Palm Harbor University, Boca Ciega and Pinellas Park, all by 14 points or more. The next test comes Wednesday against East Lake.
5. Jesuit (7-0)
This week: Tuesday vs. Jefferson; Friday vs. Middleton
Scoop: The Tigers remain perfect after beating Robinson, Plant and Brooks DeBartolo last week. Stevie Darst is averaging a team-leading 13.9 points per game. Jesuit has a good chance to keep its undefeated season going with games against Jefferson and Middleton this week.
6. Tampa Prep (4-0)
This week: Tuesday at Seffner Christian; Thursday vs. Cambridge; Friday vs. Bishop McLaughlin
Scoop: Longtime Terrapins coach Joe Fenlon can reach 700 victories in his career this week with wins against Seffner Christian, Cambridge and Bishop McLaughlin. Tampa Prep has won each of its first four games by 18 points or more. Tyson Ward leads the team in scoring with an average of 16 points per game.
7. Seffner Christian (2-1)
This week: Tuesday vs. Tampa Prep; Friday vs. Lakeland Kathleen
Scoop: The Crusaders end a 15-day layoff with two games this week, the biggest coming Tuesday against Tampa Prep in a rematch of the top teams in the district last season. To knock off its nemesis, Seffner will have to rely on its balanced lineup, which has seven players averaging double figures in scoring.
8. Sickles (5-1)
This week: Wednesday at Gaither; Friday vs. Wiregrass Ranch
Scoop: A loss against Class 7A, District 8 rival Wharton knocked the Gryphons from the unbeaten ranks. The 41 points Sickles scored against the Wildcats were their lowest of the season. The Gryphons have two more district games this week against Gaither and Wiregrass Ranch.
9. Berkeley Prep (7-0)
This week: No games.
Scoop: After a 7-0 start, the Buccaneers are taking some time off to gear up for a series of tournaments in December and January. Berkeley Prep has yet to be tested, winning all seven games by nine points or more. Jacob Mathis (16.7 points, 4.2 rebounds) and Kaleeyl Findlay (15.0 points, 7.7 rebounds) have been dominant in the frontcourt.
10. Calvary Christian (4-1)
This week: Tuesday at St. Stephen’s; Thursday at Shorecrest; Friday vs. Indian Rocks Christian
Scoop: Since losing its season opener to Seffner Christian, the Warriors have won four straight, including three against Class 3A, District 8 opponents Admiral Farragut, Northside Christian and St. Petersburg Catholic. Paxton Wilson is averaging 23.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. On Thursday, Calvary faces Shorecrest in a rematch of last year’s district final.
11. Countryside (5-1)
This week: Tuesday vs. East Lake; Friday at Pinellas Park
Scoop: In the lone game last week, the Cougars beat Tarpon Springs for their third straight win. Braxton Hampton has been the leader for Countryside, averaging a team-high 16.9 points and 10.6 rebounds. Tuesday, Countryside faces East Lake in game that could decide the second seed in Class 7A, District 10.
12. Clearwater (5-1)
This week: Tuesday vs. Osceola; Thursday vs. Dixie Hollins
Scoop: The Tornadoes’ three-game win streak to start the season was snapped with a loss to Boca Ciega. Clearwater rebounded by beating Seminole and Class 6A, District 9 rival Largo. Ryan Ierna (13.2 points) and Gene Culver (11.9) are the Tornadoes’ top scorers.
13. Largo (4-1)
This week: Tuesday vs. Dixie Hollins; Wednesday at Tarpon Springs; Friday at Boca Ciega
Scoop: The Packers’ perfect start came to an end with a loss to Clearwater. The guard-heavy lineup, led by Dakarai Allen, can put up points with an average of 70 per game. On Wednesday, Largo will be without Allen and Brandon Drayton, who are both playing in the all-star football game.
14. Bloomingdale (8-0)
This week: Wednesday at Riverview; Friday vs. Lennard
Scoop: The Bulls remained undefeated with wins last week against East Bay, Strawberry Crest and Durant. Bloomingdale’s top scorers so far are Drew Bethoney, Nick Lewis, Derek Thompson Jr. and Trent Wienert.
15. Newsome (3-2)
This week: Tuesday at Riverview; Friday vs. Bradenton Manatee
Scoop: A month into the season and the Wolves already are falling behind in Class 8A, District 6 play. They have lost both district games, the latest coming against Sarasota Riverview last week. The next two weeks are important, with three of four games against district foes starting against Riverview.
16. Alonso (5-1)
This week: Tuesday at Bradenton Manatee; Thursday at Hillsborough; Saturday vs. Sarasota Riverview
Scoop: The first loss of the season came last week against Sarasota Riverview. The Ravens bounced back to beat Chamberlain and Riverview to continue their strong start to the season. The Ravens can exact revenge with a rematch against Sarasota Riverview on Saturday.
17. East Lake (5-1)
This week: Tuesday at Countryside; Wednesday vs. St. Petersburg.
Scoop: The Eagles have won five straight after pulling out a last-second 47-45 win over Seminole last week. Mike Jackson had the winning shot in that game. The Eagles’ top three scorers are Breon Hillmon (17.4 points), Chad Kellmann (13.4) and Dan Spielvogel (12.2). This week, the Eagles will gauge where they stand in Class 7A, District 10 with games against Countryside and St. Petersburg.
18. Freedom (3-3)
This week: Wednesday vs. Plant; Friday vs. Steinbrenner
Scoop: The Patriots, one of the preseason contenders in Class 7A, District 8, have already fallen to Sickles and Wharton and cannot afford many more losses if they want to claim one of the top two seeds. This week, there are more district games vs. Plant and Steinbrenner.
19. Zephyrhills (5-0)
This week: Tuesday at Anclote; Thursday vs. Gulf; Friday vs. Citrus
Scoop: Aside from a one-point win against Wesley Chapel, the Bulldogs have been blowing teams out during their perfect start, winning the other four by 20 or more. Jeremy Oppenheimer leads the North Suncoast in points per game at 22.3.
20. Nature Coast (5-0)
This week: Tuesday at Lecanto; Wednesday at Ridgewood; Friday vs. Hernando
Scoop: In a matchup of undefeated teams, the Sharks routed Hernando County rival Central 76-41. Only one of Nature’s first five wins has been decided in single digits. Another test comes Friday against county rival Hernando.
21. Brooks DeBartolo (4-2)
This week: Wednesday at Sarasota Military Academy
Scoop: The four wins have come against teams outside of Hillsborough County. Against county private school powers, the Phoenix have struggled, losing to Tampa Catholic and Jesuit by double digits. Aikeem Sims is averaging 18 points and 5.0 rebounds.
22. Central (7-1)
This week: Tuesday vs. Hernando; Friday vs. Weeki Wachee
Scoop: A seven-game win streak to start the season was snapped with a loss to Nature Coast. That game marked the first time the Bears failed to score at least 50 points this season. Axel Wisniewski-Mendoza leads the team in scoring with 13.4 points per game.
23. Lakewood (4-4)
This week: Tuesday vs. Tarpon Springs; Friday vs. Dunedin
Scoop: Despite the record, the Spartans showed they can be a contender after leading rival Gibbs for most of last week’s game before losing in overtime. Lakewood can climb back into the Class 5A, District 11 race with matchups against Tarpon Springs and Dunedin this week.
24. Clearwater Central Catholic (3-3)
This week: Friday at Sarasota Cardinal Mooney
Scoop: After starting 3-0, the Marauders dropped three straight against Class 4A, District 9 foes Tampa Catholic, Brooks DeBartolo and Berkeley Prep in one of the toughest districts in the area. The Marauders do not have a player who averages double figures in scoring. Brandon Giebel leads the team with 8.4 points per game.
25. Tarpon Springs (3-4)
This week: Tuesday at Lakewood; Wednesday vs. Largo; Friday at Bradenton Bayshore
Scoop: After starting 3-0, the Spongers have lost four straight, including three last week. It doesn’t get any easier this week with games against Lakewood and Largo. Don Davis leads the Spongers in points (14.3) and rebounds (7.9).
On the bubble: Tampa Bay Tech (5-1), Hernando (4-1), Boca Ciega (2-4), Shorecrest (3-3)