HomeTeam 25: Boys basketball rankings
1. Sickles (21-2)
This week: Monday vs. Gaither; Tuesday vs. Alonso
Scoop: The Gryphons, led by a junior-heavy lineup, have won six straight, all by 15 points or more. The two wins last week over Wiregrass Ranch and Chamberlain were each by more than 20. Sickles’ only loss to a county opponent was by a point to rival Wharton in early December. The Gryphons avenged that loss with a 15-point win against the Wildcats this month to clinch the top seed in the Class 7A, District 8 standings. Coach Renaldo Garcia goes for career win No. 300 tonight.
2. St. Petersburg (17-6)
This week: Tuesday vs. Northeast; Thursday vs. Dixie Hollins
Scoop: With last week’s win against Gibbs, the Green Devils have all but clinched a spot in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference title game as the South representative. St. Petersburg needs a win against Northeast or Dixie Hollins to play for the conference championship. The Green Devils are undefeated against bay area opponents and have won 10 of their past 11 games.
3. Jesuit (20-3)
This week: Tuesday vs. Berkeley Prep; Friday vs. Tampa Catholic
Scoop: The Tigers’ five-game win streak came to an end with a loss to Robinson. It was Jesuit’s second loss to a Class 5A, District 9 opponent in an 18-day span. Now, the Tigers are tied with Robinson and Jefferson atop the district standings with the top two seeds to be decided by a tiebreaker. Stevie Darst is the Jesuit player averaging double figures in scoring at 14.8 points per game.
4. Tampa Catholic (19-4)
This week: Tuesday at Tampa Prep; Friday at Jesuit.
Scoop: Yes, the Crusaders finished last week with two straight losses but they were against two of the premier teams in the county, Victory Rock Prep and Oldsmar Christian. Thomas Dziagwa scored a combined 60 points in those two games, including 36 against Victory Rock Prep, and needs 40 more to become the school’s all-time leading scorer. Tampa Catholic finishes the regular season with games against private school rivals Tampa Prep and Jesuit.
5. Wharton (18-4)
This week: Thursday at Alonso; Friday vs. Plant City
Scoop: The Wildcats have won five straight games and clinched the No. 2 seed in Class 7A, District 9. The bulk of the regular-season schedule was finished midway through this month. Wharton only had three games in the last two weeks. Thursday’s against Alonso will be a good test for the district tournament.
6. Gibbs (20-3)
This week: Wednesday vs. Seminole
Scoop: The Gladiators will not be able to defend their PCAC title after losing to rival St. Petersburg last week. It was Gibbs’ first loss to a county opponent this season. But the Gladiators already have the top seed wrapped in Class 5A, District 11 and can cruise with a relatively light week to close out the regular season.
7. Freedom (17-4)
This week: Monday vs. Lennard; Thursday at Spoto; Friday at Riverview
Scoop: The Patriots have won nine straight games, the longest streak in the bay area. The latest win against Armwood was just the second one decided by single digits during Freedom’s streak. The Patriots’ success should continue this week. Sheldon Odunna is averaging a team-high 15.7 points per game.
8. Seffner Christian (16-7)
This week: Tuesday vs. Indian Rocks Christian; Friday vs. IMG Academy (at Brooks DeBartolo’s Derrick Brooks Shootout)
Scoop: For the first time in school history, the Crusaders swept rival Tampa Prep to secure the top seed in Class 3A, District 7. Seffner Christian’s brutal schedule continued this past weekend with losses to the Rock and Jacksonville Bishop Kenny. Derek Webster leads the team in rebounds (6.3 per game) and is second in points (12.0).
9. Brooks DeBartolo (17-5)
This week: Saturday vs. Armwood (Derrick Brooks’ Shootout)
Scoop: The Phoenix is finishing strong with five straight wins, four by double digits. The offense is averaging 69 points per game. Aikeem Sims and Johnny Lampkin are the leaders of a veteran lineup.
10. Alonso (17-4)
This week: Tuesday at Sickles; Thursday vs. Wharton; Friday at Blake; Saturday vs. Plant City (at Brooks DeBartolo’s Derrick Brooks Shootout)
Scoop: The Ravens, the No. 2 seed in Class 8A, District 6, backloaded the schedule with several tough games to get ready for a potential playoff run. The most intriguing games are against Sickles on Tuesday and Wharton on Thursday.
11 Clearwater (18-4)
This week: Tuesday vs. East Lake; Wednesday vs. Dunedin
Scoop: Tornadoes coach Tom Shaneyfelt won his 700th game (boys and girls combined) with a victory against Dixie Hollins last week that also clinched the top seed in the Class 6A, District 9 tournament. In that game, Gene Culver hit 10 3-pointers to set a school record. With a win against East Lake or Dunedin this week, Clearwater will earn a spot in the PCAC championship game.
12. Newsome (13-6)
This week: Wednesday at Spoto; Friday at Armwood
Scoop: The Wolves have won five straight, including a big non-district win against neighboring rival Bloomingdale last week. As usual, Newsome’s defense has been stellar. During their recent streak, the Wolves have held opponents to 47 points or fewer, including two games in which they kept foes in the 20s.
13. Bloomingdale (16-5)
This week: Tuesday vs. Blake
Scoop: Since starting 11-0, the Bulls have gone 5-5. They finished last week with two straight losses, including one to rival Newsome. Three of the five losses have come by a combined 11 points. Bloomingdale finishes the regular season against Blake.
14. Shorecrest (15-8)
This week: Thursday at Bradenton Christian
Scoop: Since losing to Calvary Christian three weeks ago, the Chargers have won seven straight. Shorecrest, with its wide range of sharpshooters, can put up points and has scored 79 or more in four wins during its recent streak.
15. Berkeley Prep (13-8)
This week: Tuesday at Jesuit; Thursday vs. Tampa Prep; Friday at Carrollwood Day.
Scoop: The Buccaneers snapped a five-game losing streak with a much-needed win against Memphis Southwind in the ARS National Hoopfest tournament they hosted. Kaleeyl Findlay had 21 points and 11 rebounds in the win against Southwind and is averaging a team-high 16.9 points.
16. Calvary Christian (16-7)
This week: Tuesday at Cambridge; Saturday vs. Brandon (at Brooks DeBartolo’s Derrick Brooks Shootout)
Scoop: The Warriors had their six-game streak snapped with a loss to Jesuit. Calvary Christian still remains in a first-place tie with Shorecrest in Class 3A, District 8. A tiebreaker is needed to determine pecking order among the top two seeds. Paxton Wilson (18.2 points) and Eddie Williams (12.2) are the team’s top two scorers.
17. Tampa Prep (14-8)
This week: Tuesday vs. Tampa Catholic; Thursday at Berkeley Prep
Scoop: The Terrapins have lost three of their past four, including a game against Seffner Christian that dropped Tampa Prep to the No. 2 seed in Class 3A, District 7. In the lone win last week against Memphis Southwind, Tyson Ward had a big performance with 21 points and 16 rebounds.
18. Largo (15-6)
This week: Tuesday at Seminole
Scoop: The Packers have won four of five to clinch the No. 2 seed in the Class 6A, District 9 tournament. On Tuesday, Largo closes out the regular season with a game against rival Seminole.
19. East Lake (14-7)
This week: Monday at Dunedin; Tuesday at Clearwater; Thursday vs. Tarpon Springs
Scoop: Despite losing three of their past five, the Eagles had enough of a cushion to earn the No. 2 seed in the Class 7A, District 10 tournament. East Lake has failed to score more than 57 points in each of its seven losses. Three players – Breon Hillsmon (14.8 points), Chad Kellman (11.5) and Dan Spielvogel (10.6) – are averaging double figures in scoring.
20. Zephyrhills (18-4)
This week: Tuesday vs. Land O’Lakes; Wednesday at Wiregrass Ranch; Friday at Citrus
Scoop: After a rough 1-4 stretch a month ago, the Bulldogs have rebounded to win seven straight. At the Ulrich Classic last weekend, Zephyrhills kept its win streak intact by rallying in the fourth quarter to eventually pull out a 71-60 win in overtime over St. Petersburg Catholic. Jeremy Oppenheimer is averaging 20.6 points.
21. Countryside (16-8)
This week: Thursday at Boca Ciega
Scoop: The Cougars have won four of five and will enter the Class 7A, District 10 tournament as the No. 3 seed. At the Ulrich Classic, Countryside jumped out to a big lead and held on to beat Mitchell. Braxton Hampton had 24 points and 21 rebounds in that game to lead the Cougars.
22. Northeast (13-10)
This week: Tuesday at St. Petersburg; Thursday vs. Indian Rocks Christian
Scoop: The Vikings are 5-3 in their past eight games. The three losses (two to Clearwater, one to Boca Ciega) were by a combined 13 points. Jordan Kabamba is averaging a team-high 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds.
23. Robinson (13-8)
This week: Tuesday vs. Steinbrenner; Thursday at East Bay
Scoop: The Knights have won four straight, none bigger than the win against Jesuit that helped Robinson move into a three-way tie for first place in Class 5A, District 9. Iyan Mitchell is averaging 16.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists.
24. Brandon (15-7)
This week: Tuesday at Gaither; Saturday vs. Calvary Christian (at Brooks DeBartolo’s Derrick Brooks Shootout)
Scoop: The Eagles have won six straight and eight of nine That surge helped them move a game behind top seeds Armwood and Hillsborough in the Class 6A, District 7 tournament. Stephonse Mack is the top scorer for Brandon.
25. Armwood (16-6)
This week: Friday vs. Newsome; Saturday at Brooks DeBartolo
Scoop: The Hawks have gone 2-2 in their past four games. No player is averaging double figures in scoring. Ky’Llen Hymon leads the team at 8.5 points per game.
On the bubble: Wesley Chapel (17-6), Lakewood (10-10), Mitchell (12-5), Land O’Lakes (12-7), Nature Coast (17-5), East Bay (13-9), Tampa Bay Tech (11-7), Hillsborough (12-8)