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Boys basketball region quarterfinals preview

All games at 7 tonight

6A, Sarasota Riverview (25-5) at Sickles (23-4): The Gryphons will go for their 14th straight win and they haven't lost at home. All-American John Henson (17.7 ppg, 12.5 rpg) can control a game, but point guard Jordan Davis (7.4 apg) really makes this team go.

The pick: Sickles

5A, Blake (20-7) at Clearwater (24-3): The Yellow Jackets' Cinderella season hit a snag when they lost to Hillsborough in the district final. But if the perimeter game of Andre Smith (17.4 ppg, 4.0 apg, 2.8 spg) and twin towers Michael McFarland (13.5 ppg, 7.7. rpg) and Montrey Pride (6.8 ppg, 10.5 rpg) are on top of their games, they will give the Tornadoes a tough effort.

The pick: Clearwater

5A, Largo (23-5) at Hillsborough (20-8): Hillsborough is the perfect example of a team getting hot at the right time. The Terriers have won eight in a row and 10 of 11. Guard Juan Washington (13.1 ppg, 3.1 spg) is one of the area's best players you haven't heard of.

The pick: Hillsborough

5A, Newsome (20-5) at Ridgewood (25-2): Newsome boasts an impressive record, but its loss to the Rams in their last meeting was anything but. The Wolves lost by 36 on New Year's Eve. They've gotten better, but will need more scoring around net filler Samal Shepherd (18.5 ppg). Ridgewood's Lukas Poderis (19.4 ppg, 10.4 rpg) might be the best bay area player north of the county line.

The pick: Ridgewood

5A, Land O'Lakes (17-10) at King (20-6): There might not be a more determined player in the postseason than King senior Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, who wants to make his first playoff appearance memorable and owns a 27-point game and a 25-rebound game this postseason. Include a supporting cast that plays frenetic defense and makes its free throws and the Lions are dangerous.

The pick: King

3A, Fort Myers Dunbar (15-10) at Berkeley Prep (22-5): The Buccaneers have lost just one game in the new year, a span of 15 games. Berkeley has won with a good deal of balance throughout its lineup, including Johnathan Gray (18.1 ppg), Austin Suarez (13.4) and Christian Reintgen 11.0) scoring in double digits.

The pick: Berkeley Prep

3A, Tampa Catholic (9-18) at Fort Myers Bishop Verot (20-9): The Crusaders have a tough road draw (a long drive plus a hostile crowd). It probably doesn't help that they enter having lost four of their past five and scored 55 points only once in that span.

The pick: Bishop Verot

2A, Santa Fe Catholic (7-18) at Tampa Prep (23-4): Yes, Santa Fe Catholic is in the playoffs with just seven wins. It should be an easy match for the Terrapins, who have a relatively clear path to the final four in a weak 2A bracket.

The pick: Tampa Prep

A, Cambridge at (13-12) Lakeland Victory Christian (11-4): The Lancers will have to recuperate from a 26-point loss to Seffner Christian in the district title game, and Cambridge has been streaky, but they draw a pretty weak district champ in the first round.

The pick: Cambridge

A, Lake Wales Vanguard (13-7) at Seffner Christian (19-7): The Crusaders, winners of seven of their past eight, head into the tournament on a roll. Vanguard, like any Seffner opponent, will have to find a way to stop Devin Paularinne (21.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg).

The pick: Seffner Christian

A, Citrus Park Christian (13-13) at Sarasota Christian: The Eagles' .500 record is an indication of their streakiness. Citrus Park is led by the combination of Brandon Hagarty (15.7 ppg. 6.0 rpg) and Jerry Oliver (15.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg).

The pick: Sarasota Christian

Eduardo A. Encina, Times staff writer

Boys basketball region quarterfinals preview 02/18/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 10:22pm]

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