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Boys basketball: Top story lines heading into Hillsborough district play

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Sat. February 1, 2014 | Matt Baker | Email

Boys basketball: Top story lines heading into Hillsborough district play

The final district tournaments of the winter season take place this week with boys basketball. Here’s a breakdown of what to watch for as Hillsborough County teams fight for the playoffs:

Can TC battle Berkeley Prep?
Behind Texas Tech recruit Justin Gray and Craig Bowman, the Buccaneers are ranked second in Class 4A and vying for their second final four appearance in the last three seasons. But TC, led by Delaware signee Chivarsky Corbett, will present a challenge in Class 4A, District 10; Berkeley won both previous meetings by a combined 13 points.

History at Brooks DeBartolo
The Phoenix (17-6) has never been to the playoffs, but that could change this year. Brooks DeBartolo is second in Class 3A, District 7, with its only two district defeats coming to state contender Tampa Prep. Juniors Mike Obi (15.2 ppg) and Jarred Anderson (14.1) form one of the county’s best backcourts.

Unpredictable Class 6A, District 9
Jefferson, Lennard and Chamberlain all boast realistic district title hopes. Jefferson finished 3-1 against the other two teams in games decided by 20 total points. After a slow start, Chamberlain has rattled off seven consecutive wins, while Lennard has one of the county’s hottest players - Caelen Watts, who’s scored at least 23 points in three of his last four games.

Three in a row for East Bay
The Indians are gunning for their third consecutive district title and are the favorite in Class 7A, District 7. Their only district loss came with a depleted roster against Strawberry Crest - a defeat East Bay avenged with a 17-point beat-down a month later. Although a coin flip gave the Chargers the No. 1 seed, East Bay has the district’s top talent - standout guard Jonathan Jean - and a supporting cast capable of making a fourth playoff appearance in a row.

Best potential semifinal
Plant is the top seed in Class 8A, District 7, and the other playoff spot will likely go to either second-seeded Wharton or third-seeded Bloomingdale. The Wildcats (17-6) haven’t missed the playoffs since 2009 but stumbled to the end of the season with four losses in their last five games. One of those defeats was against Bloomingdale, which used 17 points from junior Logan Crouse to earn a 57-48 win.

Robinson peaking
While Christian Whidden and Jesuit remain the favorite in Class 5A, District 9, but few teams in the county are hotter than Robinson. The Knights (16-9) enter the district tournament on a six-game winning streak, including a 74-73 win over Bloomingdale and a 61-59 triumph over Strawberry Crest. Senior captain Cody Brown has averaged 18.7 points while making 48 percent of his 3-point attempts in that span.

Brewing rivalry
The third meeting of the year between Freedom and Wiregrass Ranch will take place in the Class 7A, District 8 semifinals and decide a playoff berth. The Patriots haven’t been to the postseason since 2005, and Wiregrass made its inaugural playoff appearance last year - thanks to a 63-59 win over Freedom in the district semifinals. The teams split their two previous contests this winter.

By the numbers
21, 13 - Scoring and rebounding averages for Tampa Prep sophomore Juwan Durham over his last seven games, entering Friday
5 - Bayshore Christian players averaging at least 9.6 points per game: Matthew Eckermann, Josh Humphries, Eric Davis, Greg Johnson and Devin Wilson
47 - 3-pointers hit by Seffner Christian junior Kent Hegarty in a recent nine-game span
6 - Games in which Strawberry Crest senior Malik Channer has scored in double figures with at least five rebounds, five assists and three steals
8 - Consecutive double doubles for Plant senior swingman Andrew Sanders
51 - Points scored by Cambridge Christian junior Garrett Young in two games against Academy at the Lakes. The teams will likely meet a third time in the Class 2A, District 7 final
92 - Steals amassed by Jefferson junior Vernon Jackson
8 - Games in a row with at least 13 points and 12 rebounds for Armwood junior Devonte Myles

District tournaments
8A-7 at Alonso

Tuesday: No. 3 Bloomingdale vs. No. 6 Riverview, 5; No. 4 Newsome vs. No. 5 Alonso, 7
Wednesday: No. 2 Wharton vs. Bloomingdale-Riverview winner, 5; No. 1 Plant vs. Newsome-Alonso winner, 7
Friday: Final, 7

7A-8 at Sickles
Tuesday: No. 4 Steinbrenner vs. No. 5 Gaither, 7
Wednesday: No. 2 Freedom vs. No. 3 Wiregrass Ranch, 6; No. 1 Sickles vs. Steinbrenner-Gaither winner, 8
Friday: Final, 7

7A-7 at Brandon
Monday: No. 4 Plant City vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay Tech, 5; No. 3 Brandon vs. No. 6 Durant, 7
Tuesday: No. 1 Strawberry Crest vs. Plant City-TBT winner, 5; No. 2 East Bay vs. Brandon-Durant winner, 7
Thursday: Final, 7

7A-9 at Hillsborough
Monday: No. 7 Blake vs. No. 2 Lennard, 6; No. 1 Jefferson vs. No. 8 Leto, 8
Tuesday: No. 5 King vs. No. 4 Armwood, 6; No. 3 Chamberlain vs. No. 6 Hillsborough
Wednesday: Chamberlain-Hillsborough winner vs. Blake-Lennard winner, 6; Jefferson-Leto winner vs. King-Armwood winner, 8
Saturday: Final, 7

5A-9 at Jesuit
Wednesday: No. 1 Jesuit vs. No. 4 Spoto, 6; No. 2 Robinson vs. No. 3 Middleton, 7:45
Friday: Final, 7

4A-10 at Tampa Catholic
Wednesday: No. 1 Berkeley Prep vs. No. 4 Sarasota Military Academy, 6; No. 2 Tampa Catholic vs. No. 3 Sarasota Booker, 7:30
Friday: Final, 7

3A-7 at Tampa Prep
Tuesday: No. 4 Bishop McLaughlin vs No. 5 Carrollwood Day, 7
Friday: No. 2 Brooks DeBartolo vs. No. 3 Seffner Christian, 6; No. 1 Tampa Prep vs. Bishop-CDS winner, 7:30
Saturday: Final, 7

2A-8 at Bayshore Christian
Monday: No. 4 Odessa Christian vs. No. 5 Lakeside Christian, 5; No. 3 Keswick Christian vs. No. 6 Citrus Park Christian, 6:30
Tuesday: No. 2 Canterbury vs. Keswick-Citrus Park winner, 5; No. 1 Bayshore Christian vs. Odessa-Lakeside winner, 6:30
Friday: Final, 6:30

2A-7 at Cambridge Christian
Tuesday: No. 2 Academy at the Lakes vs. No. 3 Universal, 6; No. 1 Cambridge vs. No. 4 Tampa Bay HEAT, 7:30
Friday: Final, 7

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