The games have been tense and close. And there have been wholesale changes at the top of the rankings.
The 2012-13 boys basketball season in Pinellas County promised to be one of the most closely contested in years with so many teams evenly matched.
It has lived up to the billing.
Lakewood and Gibbs split their regular-season meetings. Both games went into overtime and were decided by a combined four points. St. Petersburg overcame a 25-point deficit to beat the Spartans.
And then there was Largo, which was unranked at the beginning of the season. Now, the Packers are at the top of the Times’ super seven with a legitimate chance to make a deep run in the playoffs.
The tight matchups show in the seedings for the district tournaments, which start this week. For example, in Class 5A-12, Boca Ciega, Gibbs and Lakewood were all tied for first and had to do a blind draw to determine the order of finish.
Here is a breakdown of each district in the county.
Class 8A-8: East Lake, the No. 3 seed, has played well lately and could move on to the final. In the semifinals, the Eagles play No. 2 North Port, a team they beat by more than 20 in their last meeting. A big reason for East Lake’s success in the second half of the season is the play of George Campbell, who is averaging a double double in his past six games.
Class 7A-9: By beating St. Petersburg in their last meeting, Seminole clinched the No. 1 seed. The Warhawks are led by Matt Cassity and Noah Weller. The Green Devils had the top spot but lost two district games in a week span. Both teams are expected to renew their rivalry in the district final like they did last season. The sleeper in the district is Countryside, which could face St. Petersburg in the semifinals. The Cougars upset the Green Devils in the regular season.
Class 6A-12: Largo went undefeated against district opponents to clinch the No. 1 seed. Since getting its football players into basketball shape, the Packers have been the best team in the county with eight straight wins. Jonathan Crawford and Donovan Hale, both sophomores, have both come up big in the past month for Largo. Osceola, the No. 2 seed, is led by Freeman Hinson, who reached the 1,000-point career milestone last week.
Class 5A-10: Tarpon Springs is the lone Pinellas County team in the district. The Spongers will have to rely on guard JT Aguilar for most of their scoring to get to the finals.
Class 5A-12: This district is a battle of attrition. Boca Ciega, Gibbs and Lakewood each lost key players at one point in the regular season. The Pirates got some good news with the return of Dallas Moore from a groin injury sustained early last week. But it is still unclear if teammate Michael Clark (ankle) will be back. The top-seeded Gladiators will have Barry Brown, who was held out for two games by his family for personal reasons, back in the lineup. The most intriguing matchup comes in Wednesday’s semifinals when Lakewood and Boca Ciega square off. The loser will not make the postseason.
Class 3A-9: Shorecrest, which made the state semifinals last season, is the favorite. The Chargers had just three losses in the regular season. One of those came against St. Petersburg Catholic, which could make the final. But this is one of the deepest districts in the county with Admiral Farragut, Clearwater Central Catholic and Indian Rocks Christian each having a shot of moving on to regionals.
Class 2A-9: Canterbury, the No. 3 seed, plays No. 2 Keswick Christian in the semifinals. The winner has a tough task with a game against No. 1 seed Sarasota Christian, which was undefeated in district play.
Tuesday: No. 2 East Lake at No. 3 North Port, 7; No. 4 Palm Harbor University at No. 1 Sarasota Riverview, 7
Friday: Final, 7*
*In Pinellas County if a Pinellas team makes the final
Class 7A-10 at St. Petersburg
Monday: No. 3 Countryside vs. No. 6 Northeast, 6:30; No. 4 Clearwater vs. No. 5 Pinellas Park, 8
Wednesday: No. 1 Seminole vs. Clearwater-Pinellas Park winner, 6:30; No. 2 St. Petersburg vs. Countryside-Northeast winner, 8
Friday: Final, 7
Class 6A-10 at Mitchell
Tuesday: No. 4 River Ridge vs. No. 5 Sunlake, 7
Wednesday: No. 2 Land O’Lakes vs. No. 3 Tarpon Springs, 6; No. 1 Mitchell vs. River Ridge-Sunlake winner, 7:30
Friday: Final, 7
Monday: No. 5 Lakewood Ranch at No. 4 Dixie Hollins, 7
Wednesday: Dixie-Lakewood Ranch winner at No. 1 Largo, 7; No. 3 Palmetto at No. 2 Osceola
Friday: Final at TBD, 7*
*In Manatee County unless two Pinellas teams make final
Tuesday: No. 5 Bayshore at No. 4 Southeast, 7; No. 6 Dunedin at No. 3 Lakewood, 7
Wednesday: Southeast-Bayshore winner at No. 1 Gibbs, 7; Lakewood-Dunedin winner at No. 2 Boca Ciega, 7
Friday: Final, 7*
*In Pinellas County unless two Manatee teams make final
Class 3A-9 at Indian Rocks Christian
Tuesday: No. 4 Admiral Farragut vs. No. 5 Clearwater Central Catholic, 4:30; No. 3 IRC vs. No. 6 Northside Christian, 6; No. 2 St. Petersburg Catholic vs. No. 7 Calvary Christian, 7:30
Friday: IRC-Northside winner vs. SPC-Calvary winner, 6; No. 1 Shorecrest vs. AFA-CCC winner, 7:30
Saturday: Final, 7
Tuesday: No. 3 Canterbury at No. 2 Keswick Christian, 7; No. 4 Lakeside Christian at No. 1 Sarasota Chr, 7
Friday at Sarasota Christian: Final, 7