DOVER — Tampa Bay Tech coach Reggie Lawrence said he and Strawberry Crest coach La'Tosha Lewis predicted Thursday's championship matchup nearly a year ago when the districts were first released.
"We said we'd see each other three times this year, hopefully four," he said.
Tuesday, their premonition came true as their teams earned 7A-7 district semifinal wins in nearly the same effortless fashion.
Strawberry Crest cruised to a 63-13 win against Brandon in the first semifinal of the evening before the Titans beat Plant City 78-30 in the second. The Titans (22-4) and Chargers (23-4) will meet for the third time this season in Thursday's championship.
Playing on their home court, the Chargers dominated Brandon (8-13) early, forcing turnovers and swatting Eagles shots. Brandon didn't get its second field goal of the night until just a couple minutes before halftime.
UCF commit Aliyah Gregory led Strawberry Crest with 22 points. Brianna Thompson had eight of Brandon's 13 points.
Much like their district rival did before them, the Titans scored a lot of points fast, beginning the game on a 12-0 run and holding the Raiders to 1-for-15 shooting in the first quarter.
The Titans, led by Brianna Thomas' 24 points, struggled with turnovers in the second quarter, but still led Plant City 47-18 at the half. Shayna Lawrence contributed a team-high 10 points for the Raiders (11-13).
None of the other four teams in the district besides Strawberry Crest and TBT finished with a winning record, so it wasn't a surprise the two will meet in the biggest game of the season to date.
Tampa Bay Tech might have lost to the Chargers twice — 64-51 and 73-49 — but Thomas thinks the Titans have learned from their past mistakes and can come out on top to win their third straight district title.
"We just need to work on turnovers and stuff, and we'll be good," she said. "(The outcome) could be very different."
Strawberry Crest, on the other hand, is looking forward to competing once again for its first district championship. The Chargers are coming on strong at the end of the regular season, beating five of its last six opponents by at least 37 points. But despite not being challenged much in recent weeks, Lewis isn't concerned about her team's ability to fight Thursday.
"I'm never worried about my team, because I know they're going to come out to play and I know they have stuff to prove," she said.
2A-7: Cambridge Christian beat Tampa Bay HEAT 38-18 to advance to Thursday's Class 2A, District 7 championship game against Academy at the Lakes.
The Lancers (5-14) led the low-scoring game 18-9 at halftime. Cambridge Christian coach John Wilson said his team shared the scoring duties so well that it made the Lancers tough to defend.
"They couldn't key on just one person," he said. "They attacked in their zone and dared us to make jump shots, and we hit some jump shots."
The last time Cambridge Christian won a district title, the Lancers' only seniors — Lexie Fisher and Natalie Fernandez — were eighth graders. And though the Lancers have their work cut out for them against Academy at the Lakes (15-4), Wilson knows exactly what bringing a championship back to Cambridge Christian would mean to his team.
"That would probably make their season," he said. "If we were able to pull an upset against them, that would be monumental."
5A-9: Spoto beat Robinson 43-41 to earn its first victory of the season and a region berth.
The Spartans and Knights, which, along with Middleton make up a three-team district, had met just once in the regular season, when Robinson (2-17) beat Spoto 46-40 on Dec. 19.
Spoto (1-15) will play Middleton (9-10) in the district championship Thursday.