Sickles (16-10) had no problem with Steinbrenner 75-60, and Freedom (15-6) built a big lead and coasted past Wiregrass Ranch 58-32 as both earned region berths with wins in the 7A-8 semifinals.
The last time both teams advanced past district in the same year was 2005. Since then, the Patriots haven’t been back, and Sickles hasn’t missed.
“I’m proud of the kids,” Sickles coach Renaldo Garcia said. “That’s a decade of playoffs for us.”
Sickles and Steinbrenner (8-16) both struggled with shooting in the first quarter, going a combined 6-for-32 from the field, but guard Isaac Holder got hot in the second quarter for the Gryphons. Holder hit a pair of 3-pointers and a lay-in in the first few minutes of the second quarter, helping Sickles open a 30-15 halftime lead. The junior hit two more 3s in the third quarter to finish with 19 points.
“The last month, Isaac has been shooting lights-out,” Garcia said. “When he gets set, he’s a pretty deadly shooter.”
Sickles held the county’s leading scorer, Keshaun Ingram, to nine points through three quarters. Ingram, who scored 40 in the Warriors’ first-round win and averages 30, finished with 23.
Freedom held Wiregrass Ranch (11-15) to only six points in each of the first two quarters to open up a 33-12 halftime lead, but it watched half of that advantage slip away in the third quarter before the Patriots stymied the comeback attempt.
Sheldon Odunna led the Patriots with 17 points.