Boys basketball district preview
They've pounded away on Hillsborough County's courts for months. Now the stakes rise at a time when every game truly matters. These tournaments are the first steps toward Lakeland and the state semifinals. Does Hillsborough County have the juice? A look at some of the more intriguing teams as they enter the postseason.
Berkeley Prep (20-5)
What makes them good? The Buccaneers have three scorers averaging in double figures: Johnathan Gary (17.9), Austin Suarez (13.7) and Christian Reintgen (11).
Key statistic: The Buccaneers have scored 60 or more points in 16 of their past 17 games.
What makes them good? The Yellow Jackets twice fought off pesky Jesuit to claim the top seed and have their best record in four years. But there are clearly concerns heading into the tournament after consecutive losses to Hillsborough and Sickles to end the season.
Key statistic: Blake had won 12 in a row before dropping its last two games.
What makes them good? The Cougars have three scorers averaging in double figures: Andre Nation (13.1), Aaron Garden (12.6) and Jeffrey Thomas (10.1).
Key statistic: Durant is tough to stop at home with a record of 7-1. The lone loss came at the hands of top-seeded Lakeland.
What makes them good? The Lions forfeited four games earlier this season for using an ineligible player. They've won 15 in all and have not lost since the Tampa Hoops Classic in late December.
Key statistic: Toarlyn Fitzpatrick is averaging 14.5 points and 10.5 rebounds.
What makes them good? Samal Sheppard is averaging 18.8 points and 6.8 rebounds. The 6-foot-3 guard has five games of 20 points or more, including a 38-point effort in a 68-62 win against Tampa Bay Tech.
Key statistic: The Wolves have three winning streaks of at least four games but none longer than five.
Seffner Christian (16-7)
What makes them good? Best shot of any Hillsborough County team to go as deep as last season, when it earned a region final berth.
Key statistic: Junior Devin Paularinne is averaging 21.9 points and 6.1 rebounds. He scored a season-high 35 in a 75-51 win against Keswick Christian.
What makes them good? North Carolina signee John Henson instantly turned the Gryphons into a state contender. At 6 feet 4, 200 pounds, Henson has proved to be as good as promised, averaging 17.3 points, 12.2 rebounds and 6.4 blocks.
Key statistic: The Gryphons went undefeated in district play and have won 11 in a row, outscoring teams by an average of 30 points.
Tampa Prep (21-3)
What makes them good? The Terrapins have three scorers averaging in double figures: Jamal Cherry (16), Jay Bowie (15.2) and Jake Haslam (10.5).
Key statistic: The Terrapins are 11-0 at home.
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6A-8 at Durant
Tuesday: (5) Plant City vs. (4) Sarasota, 4; (6) East Bay vs. (3) Sarasota Riverview, 6; (7) Riverview vs. (2) Durant, 8. Friday: semifinal, 6; (1) Lakeland vs. TBD, 8. Saturday: Final, 7.
Skinny: Durant has chipped away at Lakeland, falling by 10 and eight points. Those are its only losses over a 12-game span.
6A-7 at Mitchell
Wednesday: (3) Countryside vs. (6) Sickles, 6; (4) Mitchell vs. (5) Gaither, 8. Friday: (2) St. Petersburg vs. TBD, 6; (1) Sickles vs. TBD, 8. Saturday: Final, 7.
Skinny: Mitchell came the closest to upsetting Sickles, falling
51-45 on Dec. 8. The Gryphons made the Mustangs pay with a 69-33 win at Mitchell on Jan. 23.
5A-10 at Jefferson
Today: (8) Middleton vs. (9) Leto, 7. Tuesday: (4) Jesuit vs. (5) Plant, 6:30; (1) Blake vs. TBD, 8. Wednesday: (7) Robinson vs. (2) Chamberlain, 6:30; (3) Hillsborough vs. (6) Jefferson, 8. Friday: Semifinals, 6:30 and 8; Saturday: Final, 7.
Skinny: Blake's 12-game win streak came to a halt after consecutive losses to Hillsborough and Sickles. The Yellow Jackets have two tight wins against Jesuit, whom they could see in the semifinals.
5A-8 at Bloomingdale
Today: (2) King vs. (7) Brandon, 6; (1) Newsome vs. (8) Freedom, 8. Tuesday: (4) Tampa Bay Tech vs. (5) Armwood, 6; (3) Bloomingdale vs. (6) Wharton, 8. Friday: Semifinals, 6 and 8. Saturday: Final, 7.
Skinny: Newsome is the top seed, but King beat it twice. Bloomingdale has slipped since the loss of Callum Townsend (knee).
4A-9 at Haines City
Today: (4) Davenport Ridge vs. (5) Lake Wales, 7. Tuesday: (3) Lakeland Kathleen vs. (6) Lakeland Tenoroc, 6; (2) Haines City vs. (7) Spoto, 7:30. Friday: (1) Bartow vs. TBD, 6; semifinal, 7:40. Saturday: Final, 7.
Skinny: Bartow was the class of the district at 11-1. Its only loss came against Haines City.
3A-11 at Berkeley Prep
Wednesday: (5) Clearwater Central Catholic vs. (4) Lennard, 7. Friday: (3) Tampa Catholic vs. (2) St. Petersburg Catholic, 6; (1) Berkeley Prep vs. TBD, 7:30. Saturday: Final, 7.
Skinny: The Buccaneers have won their past four games, including their second over Tampa Prep.
2A-9 at Bishop McLaughlin
Friday: (2) Indian Rocks Christian vs. (3) Bishop McLaughlin, 6; (1) Tampa Prep vs. (4) Calvary Christian, 7:30. Saturday: Final, 7.
Skinny: A coin toss via conference call was used to determine the third and fourth seeds. The team to beat here is Tampa Prep, which is 21-3.
A-10 at the Corral
Tuesday: (4) Tampa Bay Christian vs. (5) Berean, 6. Friday: (2) Bayshore Christian vs. (3) Cambridge, 6; (1) Seffner Christian vs. TBD, 7:30. Saturday: Final, 7.
Skinny: Berean was set to host. Instead, the teams agreed to move to a neutral site. Seffner is deeper than most, but Bayshore and Cambridge are relatively even and could pull an upset.
Note: Lakeside Christian, the A-11 host, did not provide a schedule.