Boys basketball region finals
Who: Orlando First Academy (21-8) at Tampa Prep (25-3), 7 p.m. Friday
Winner gets: Shorecrest Prep/Naples First Baptist
Skinny: Tampa Prep and the Royals met in the playoffs in 2011 and 2012 — the Terrapins’ 46-45 win in the 2012 region final was their closest contest in their road to the state title. Tampa Prep has dominated since an overtime loss to Berkeley Prep by winning its last four games, all by at least 20 points.
Keep an eye on: Two Division I-bound youngsters. Two-sport star Fletcher Magee scored 32 points for First Academy in the region semifinals and already holds offers from UCF and others. Tampa Prep forward Juwan Durham is one of the country’s top sophomores and averaging 20.8 points, 11.7 rebounds and 5.8 blocks per game.
Who: Community School of Naples (28-1) at Berkeley Prep (26-3), 7 p.m. Friday
Winner gets: Alachua Santa Fe/Lake Highland Prep
Skinny: The teams aren’t total strangers — the Seahawks played in Berkeley’s invitational — although they haven’t met this season. Both teams have strong guards — Berkeley’s Justin Gray has signed with Texas Tech, and Rollins recruit Jeff Merton leads the Seahawks in scoring (18.4 ppg). The teams have a common opponent in Tampa Prep. Berkeley split its two meetings with the Terrapins, while Community School of Naples won by 10.
Keep an eye on: Berkeley guard Marshall Holmes. An injury sidelined him for all of December, when the Buccaneers had two of their three losses. He returned in late January, and Berkeley was a little slow to regain its chemistry. “It took us a little while to kind of get in synch again,” Bucs coach Bobby Reinhart said. “I think we’re starting to get there.” Holmes drained four 3s in the region semifinal and scored a team-high 22 points.
Who: Lehigh (22-6) at Lennard (24-4), 7 p.m. Saturday
Winner gets: Lake Wales/Lake Minneola
Skinny: Expect good guard play and lots of points. The teams are averaging a combined 142 points per game with guards leading the way. Lennard’s Gary Hector, Trey Jones and Caelen Watts scored 40 of their team’s 54 points in last week’s playoff opener against Mitchell. Lehigh’s Bernard Edwards Jr. — a Bowling Green recruit and the son of former Tampa Bay Storm receiver Bernard Edwards — averages a team-high 22 points per game.
Keep an eye on: Lennard senior Robert Gant. He’s scored in double figures in four of his past five games. The lone exception came against Mitchell, when he made up for it by draining the winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
Who: Bartow (19-10) at Freedom (18-6), 7 p.m. Saturday
Winner gets: Palmetto/Melbourne
Skinny: Bartow boasts talent inside and outside. Point guard Derrick Brooks has committed to Wofford, and 6-foot-9 center Tony Bradley holds offers from Tennessee and Cincinnati as a sophomore. Freedom’s strength is its defense, which has held five of its past six opponents to 40 points or less. Sheldon Odunna and Riley Blake are both averaging more than one steal per game.
Keep an eye on: Freedom guard Miguel Rojas. He made the winning layup in a 42-40 victory over Strawberry Crest in the region semifinals and is averaging 13 points and six rebounds since the district championship game. “I’m lucky to have him,” Patriots coach Cedric Smith said, “and he’s worked hard to get where he is.”