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Girls basketball playoff preview

St. Petersburg senior Jazmyne Green (15) is focused on helping the Green Devils to their first playoff victory.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

St. Petersburg senior Jazmyne Green (15) is focused on helping the Green Devils to their first playoff victory.

The region quarterfinals are full of the usual suspects with three teams — Boca Ciega, Clearwater and St. Petersburg Catholic — that have made the state final four the past four seasons. There also is some unfamiliarity with three teams — Canterbury, Gibbs and St. Petersburg — that ended long playoff droughts. So expect tonight to be filled with tight games as teams try to muscle through to Tuesday's region semifinals. Here is the breakdown.

Class 6A

Sarasota (18-6) at St. Petersburg (21-5): This is the fourth time the Green Devils have made the postseason, their first as a district champion. Now St. Petersburg will try to win a playoff for the first time. To do that, Green Devils senior Jazmyne Green will need to provide the points as she did in the district tournament.

Class 5A

Plant (21-5) at Clearwater (26-2): This is the third straight year the Tornadoes have faced Plant in the playoffs. Clearwater won both games, including a 62-59 victory in last year's region semifinals. The Tornadoes are strong inside with J'Beria Davis and Artajah Collins, and guard Veronica Ryan has stood out on defense. The Panthers lost one of their best players, Michelle Taylor, to a torn ACL.

Palm Harbor University (14-12) at Jefferson (24-1): The Hurricanes are back in the playoffs after a one-year absence. But they face a tough task against Jefferson, which has not lost in nearly two months. PHU will need big performances from Sharee Booze and Jasmine Whiting.

North Port (22-5) at Boca Ciega (25-3): The Pirates are in the playoffs for the 17th straight season, currently the third-longest streak in the state. And for the third straight season Boca Ciega faces North Port in the first round. The Pirates won the past two meetings and are favored again with a full lineup of playmakers that includes guards Latavia Dempsey, Tory Stephens and Tamara Taylor.

Gibbs (21-4) at Bradenton Southeast (25-2): The Gladiators exorcised decades of basketball futility and are in the playoffs for the first time since 1987. Gibbs has quality wins against county playoff teams like Boca Ciega, Clearwater and St. Petersburg. That should help the Gladiators against Southeast, which always is tough in the postseason.

Class 3A

St. Petersburg Catholic (20-6) at Sarasota Cardinal Mooney (19-6): The Barons are in the playoffs thanks to Jerica Coley, who is averaging nearly 20 points. Cardinal Mooney is in the playoffs for the fourth straight season but is still trying to advance past the first round.

Class 2A

Indian Rocks Christian (21-5) at Fort Meade (14-8): The Golden Eagles are traveling in the first round after losing to Tampa Prep in the district final. Leader Courtney St. Louis is IRC's lone senior.

Naples St. John Neumann (20-7) at Northside Christian (18-7): The Mustangs are back in the playoffs despite losing some key starters to graduation or injury. And they should be a fixture for years to come with a young lineup.

Keswick Christian (13-13) at Community School of Naples (24-3): In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, the Crusaders are back in the playoffs. Keswick Christian got there behind the play of Tori Hale, who emerged as the go-to girl.

Class A

Bradenton Christian (14-11) at Canterbury (7-11): The Crusaders are in the playoffs for the first time since 2001. As newcomers, Canterbury will be tested against Bradenton Christian, which is used to playing this time of year.

Lakeside Christian (9-9) at Sarasota Christian (19-7): The Lions have a tough task facing state finalist Sarasota Christian on the road in the first round.

Girls basketball playoff preview 02/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 11:45pm]
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