Girls basketball region semifinal
Class 5A: Pasco (22-1) at Gulf (20-6), 7 Tuesday
Winner gets: St. Johns Bartram Trail/Gainesville Eastside in Saturday’s region final
Skinny: Gulf figured it would start slowly after losing its coach and two top guards. Clare Ennis’ team began 4-3 before settling into a rhythm later in the season and cruising to a 47-32 win in last week’s playoff opener against Crystal River. Kayla Kivinski remains one of the North Suncoast’s most productive players (18 points, 8.1 rebounds per game) and scored 10 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter last week. Keep an eye on forward Lyndsey Hetrick, who has been one of Pasco County’s most improved players in the post. Pasco rebounded well from its first loss of the season by grinding out a 40-38 victory at rowdy Tavares in its first-round game. The Pirates are young and led by a trio of juniors (Brianca Roberts, Allahon Marbra and Ashley Webster) but gained valuable experience last winter.
History: Pasco has lost only five games in the past two seasons — all to Gulf. That includes a 64-47 defeat to the Bucs in last year’s region semifinals and a 45-34 district final matchup that spoiled the Pirates’ perfect season. Gulf is in the region semifinals for the third consecutive year and will try to advance to the region final for the third time since 2006. Pasco is searching for its first trip to the elite eight since qualifying in back-to-back seasons (1997-98).
Class 2A: Winter Haven All Saints’ (21-0) at Academy at the Lakes (23-2), 7 Tuesday
Skinny: This playoff showdown is a matchup of the top teams in the class. AATL is ranked third in the latest FABC/SourceHoops poll, one spot ahead of All Saints’. The Wildcats have reloaded, behind one of the county’s top scorers, Andrea Mauger. Post player Tatiana Manuel surpassed the 1,000-career point mark this month, and Timecia Cohen has had a breakout season, which includes earning MVP honors of Academy at the Holy Names’ December tournament. The Saints have a big three of their own (Diamond Battles, Maddison Wells and Hope Hunter) and also preach defense. The teams combined to allow 52 points in last week’s region quarterfinals.
History: The teams have met in the postseason before. The Wildcats blew past All Saints’ 71-33 in last year’s playoff opener. That was the start of a historic run for AATL and coach Karim Nohra — they advanced to the state final four for the first time. All Saints’ has made deep runs before, too, finishing as the state runnerup in 2001 and 2002, but has won only two playoff games since.