Sunday, July 15, 2018
Sports

Region boys basketball playoff primer

All games start at 7 p.m. Admission is $7.

Region semifinals

Class 8A

Bartow (19-9) at Sickles (25-4): This is a rematch of last year's region quarterfinal that the Yellow Jackets won 59-49. Bartow is a consistent playoff contender that reached the state title game in 2015. The Gryphons are in the region semifinals for the first time since 2013. Sickles is led by Bryce Beamer, Marcus Cohen and Bryce Workman. Expect a low-scoring game. The Yellow Jackets have held each of their past five opponents to 46 points or fewer. The Gryphons have held four straight opponents to 36 or fewer.

Tampa Bay Tech (23-0) at St. Petersburg (17-10): The Titans have won 23 straight, including their first playoff victory since 1999. The Green Devils are trying to make the region final for the sixth straight season. Last year, St. Petersburg knocked TBT out in the first round. This game is a matchup of prolific scoring guards. Tyrick Brascom scored a team-high 31 points, including five 3-pointers, in the Titans' win over Countryside in the region quarterfinals. Serrel Smith had 30 in the Green Devils' win over Plant City. St. Petersburg is at full strength. Darius Banks came back from an ankle injury and has helped the Green Devils win eight straight.

Class 7A

Hillsborough (25-3) at Mitchell (21-7): The Terriers have won 17 straight. It has not been pretty at times but Hillsborough has managed to pull through in close games, beating Sickles and Chamberlain each by six. Zach Carter has been a force inside, averaging 11.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. The Mustangs are trying to get the region final for the first time. After going 1-3 during a four-game stretch a month ago, Mitchell has won four straight. Alec Sherman (14.5 points per game), JP Watt (13.1) and Jimmy Eannel (10.1) are each averaging double figures in scoring for the Mustangs.

Largo (18-7) at Port Charlotte (22-3): This is a rematch of last year's region semifinal that the Packers won 77-74 en route to reaching the state title game. Two of the Pirates' three losses this season have come against Punta Gorda Charlotte, the team Largo has knocked off in the region quarterfinals each of the last two seasons. Julian Cooney and Bobby Roundtree provide the leadership — and the points — for the Packers. Port Charlotte is led by Sean Price, who is averaging 23 points and 9.9 rebounds.

Class 6A

Nature Coast (26-1) at Central (20-9): This is probably the most anticipated rematch in the area. The Sharks, who were undefeated, lost in the district final to rival Central. That snapped Nature Coast's 17-game win streak against the Bears. It has been quite a run for Central, which made the playoffs for the first time since 2004 and is in the region semifinals for the first time since 1997. The best matchup will be inside between the Bears' Andrew Krienes (11.3 points, 8.7 rebounds) and the Sharks' Kaine McColley, the team's leading scorer.

Cape Coral Mariner (20-7) at Lakewood (19-6): Three years ago, these teams met in the region final. The Spartans won that game and reached the state championship. The Tritons were a district runnerup and went on the road to beat Gibbs in the region quarterfinals last week. Mariner is led by Amari Haynes and Jahmel Myers. Lakewood is back in the playoffs after a one-year absence. Tyrese Hurst, who scored his 1,000th career point two weeks ago, is the Spartans' best outside shooter. Jalen and Adrian White, both transfers from Boca Ciega, have also been key in Lakewood's playoff run this season.

Class 5A

Tampa Catholic (22-5) at Community School of Naples (23-5): The Crusaders are trying to reach the state semifinals for a second straight season. Since losing to West Oaks and Montverde at the National Hoopfest last month, Tampa Catholic has gone on to win eight straight. The Seahawks, who went up in classification, are trying to get back to the region finals. The game features a pair of Division I-A recruits. The Crusaders' Kevin Knox is a five-star prospect who is deciding between Duke, FSU, Kentucky and North Carolina. CSN's Trent Buttrick has already signed with Penn State.

Region finals

Class 4A

Orlando First Academy (26-1) at Seffner Christian (23-6): This is the biggest game the Crusaders have ever hosted. With a win, Seffner Christian's boys program would advance to the state semifinals for the first time. It is a tough matchup. The Royals are ranked No. 1 in the 4A state poll and have won 22 straight. Their only loss was by a point to Orlando Edgewater on Dec. 3. The Crusaders have won 14 of their last 15. Derek Webster has been big for Seffner Christian down the stretch. In last week's region quarterfinal win over Orangewood Christian, he had 19 points and five rebounds.

Class 3A

Jacksonville North Florida Educational (9-8) at Bayshore Christian (20-3): The Faith Warriors are in the playoffs for a third straight season and are trying to reach the state semifinals for the first time since 2001. North Florida Educational Institute has made the playoffs each of the past five seasons and advanced to the state semifinals in 2013. Two of Bayshore Christian's three losses this season were by a combined seven points. David Santiago (12.7 points), Jeremiah Wicks (11.7) and Christian Anderson (11.3) are the leading scorers for the Faith Warriors.

 
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