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Boys get their shot at victory as basketball playoffs begin

Jesuit’s Travis Johnson grabs a defensive rebound over Tampa Catholic’s Jio Molina in a game last month. Johnson is averaging 15.5 points per game.

Times (2012)

Jesuit’s Travis Johnson grabs a defensive rebound over Tampa Catholic’s Jio Molina in a game last month. Johnson is averaging 15.5 points per game.

It's been a wild stretch the last three weeks for area fans, with boys and girls soccer playoffs under way followed by girls basketball this past week. Monday, it's time for boys hoops to kick off. Tampa Prep, which won state last year, is looking to become the first county team to go back to back but a few other local teams should be in the mix on the road to Lakeland.

8A-7 at Bloomingdale

Tuesday: No. 3 Plant vs. No. 6 Durant, 6:30 p.m.; No. 4 Newsome vs. No. 6 Bloomingdale, 8 p.m.

Wednesday: No. 2 Alonso vs. Plant-Durant winner, 6:30 p.m.; No. 1 Wharton vs. Newsome-Bloomingdale, 8 p.m.

Friday: Final, 7 p.m.

The Skinny: Wharton ran through this district, going a perfect 10-0. Plant and Alonso split during the regular season, with both games decided by six points or less.

Player To Watch: Plant 6-foot-5 swingman Andrew Sanders is averaging a double-double at 16.6 points per game and 10.6 rebounds per game.

7A-8 at Plant City

Tuesday: No. 3 Hillsborough vs. No. 6 Riverview, 5 p.m.; No. 4 Tampa Bay Tech vs. No. 5 Plant City, 7 p.m.

Wednesday: No. 2 East Bay vs. Hillsborough-Riverview winner, 5 p.m.; No. 1 Brandon vs. TBT-Plant City winner, 7 p.m.

Friday: Final, 7 p.m.

The Skinny: Hillsborough was just 8-16 during the regular season but was the only district team to beat Brandon this year and the Eagles only won by 5 in the rematch. The expected East Bay-Hillsborough semifinal matchup should be a doozy.

Player To Watch: East Bay junior Anton Crutcher leads the team in scoring (14.4 points per game) and rebounds (9.7 per game).

7A-9 at Steinbrenner

Tuesday: No. 4 Steinbrenner vs. No. 5 Gaither, 7 p.m.

Wednesday: No. 2 Freedom vs. No. 3 Wiregrass Ranch, 6 p.m.; No. 1 Chamberlain vs. Steinbrenner-Gaither winner, 7:30 p.m.

Friday: Final, 7 p.m.

The Skinny: Chamberlain, Freedom and Wiregrass Ranch are all neck and neck in this district. The Chiefs' lone district loss was to the Patriots, and both of their games were decided by just 1 point.

Player To Watch: Wiregrass Ranch's Rico Kerney is deadly from behind the arc, averaging 22.6 points per game.

6A-11 at Leto

Monday: No. 4 Jefferson vs. No. 5 King, 6 p.m.; No. 3 Sickles vs. No. 6 Leto, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday: No. 2 Strawberry Crest vs. Sickles-Leto winner, 6 p.m.; No. 1 Armwood vs. Jefferson-King winner, 7:30 p.m.

Friday: Final, 7 p.m.

The Skinny: Sickles, Armwood and Strawberry Crest all finished 8-2 in the district but the Hawks took the No. 1 seed by virtue of the tiebreaker. That is crucial because Armwood avoids playing either of the other two until the final if it plays out as expected.

Player To Watch: Vontrey Hill is a complete player and ranks second on the team in scoring (16.5 points per game) and rebounding (9.4 per game) and first on the Hawks with 59 steals.

5A-11 at Middleton

Tuesday: No. 3 Robinson vs. No. 6 Blake, 6:30 p.m.; No. 4 Spoto vs. No. 5 Middleton, 8 p.m.

Wednesday: No. 1 Jesuit vs. Spoto-Middleton winner, 6:30 p.m.; No. 2 Lennard vs. Robinson-Blake, 8 p.m.

Friday: Final, 7 p.m.

The Skinny: The Tigers' lone loss this season came to a California team in a tournament and Jesuit should have a deep playoff run ahead of them.

Player To Watch: Jesuit's Travis Johnson is averaging 15.5 points per game for a team hitting at just under 70 points per game.

4A-9 at Booker

Wednesday: No. 2 Berkeley Prep vs. No. 3 Booker, 7 p.m.

Friday: No. 1 Tampa Catholic vs. Berkeley Prep-Booker winner, 7 p.m. (final)

The Skinny: This is the district to be in. Tampa Catholic is already guaranteed a spot in the postseason and the Buccaneers-Tornadoes winner also follows suit.

Player To Watch: Chivarsky Corbett is one of the most dangerous scorers in the county, pouring in 22.7 points per game.

3A-8 at Seffner Christian

Tuesday: No. 4 Carrollwood Day School vs. No. 6 Bishop McLaughlin, 6 p.m.

Friday: No. 1 Tampa Prep vs. CDS-Bishop McLaughlin winner, 6 p.m.; No. 2 Seffner Christian vs. No. 3 Brooks DeBartolo, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday: Final, 7 p.m.

The Skinny: Tampa Prep has been as dominant as any county team this season. Brooks-DeBartolo and Seffner Christian should slug it out for the second postseason slot.

Player To Watch: Seffner Christian's Barrett Swartz will be key if the Crusaders are to advance out of the district. Swartz is averaging 21.7 points per game and is hitting at 44 percent from 3-point land.

2A-8 at Citrus Park Christian

Monday: No. 4 Citrus Park Christian vs. No. 5 Bayshore Christian, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: No. 2 Cambridge Christian vs. No. 3 Academy at the Lakes, 6 p.m.; No. 1 Tampa Bay Christian vs. CPC-Bayshore Christian winner, 8 p.m.

Friday: Final, 7 p.m.

The Skinny: Tampa Bay Christian's lone loss of the season was a 1-point defeat to Cambridge Christian, but the Rams rebounded with a 21-point win in the rematch.

Player To Watch: Tampa Bay Christian's Dan Manzi is outstanding in the low post, averaging 22.9 points per game.

Brandon Wright can be reached at

Boys get their shot at victory as basketball playoffs begin 02/02/13 [Last modified: Friday, February 1, 2013 4:56pm]
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