The week ahead
A look at the top prep events across the county:
Boys soccer, Sickles (12-1-3) at Gaither (11-2-1), 8 tonight: Both share the Class 5A, District 9 lead with 4-0 marks and are familiar with each other. Expect a fierce match on what likely will be frozen tundra.
Boys basketball, Newsome (8-5) at Durant (10-1), 8 tonight: Another critical game in what has shaped up as the most exciting district (5A-8) in the county. Durant won the first meeting by 15. We can almost guarantee a closer margin tonight.
Girls basketball, Plant (8-4) at Wharton (12-4), 6:30 today: The young Wildcats have won the past six of seven, advancing to the Riverview Christmas Tournament final before the break. They beat Plant 66-57 in their first meeting. The Panthers have won three straight and are looking to avenge their only district loss.
Girls basketball, TBT (12-2) at East Bay (10-6), 6:30 today: The Titans went 2-1 at the highly competitive Dunbar Lady Tiger Invitational in Fort Myers and hope to rebound from a six-point loss to Stuart Martin County in that tournament.
Girls basketball, Spoto (10-3) at Jefferson (12-3), 6:30 today: Spartans face a tough back-to-back stretch against Jefferson and Plant, while the Dragons face their first three-game losing streak since November 2007.
Girls soccer, Wharton (8-5-3) at Bloomingdale (6-4), 6 today: The Wildcats had an impressive showing (two wins by an 11-0 margin and a scoreless tie) in the Sarasota Holiday Classic. Now they face district foe Bloomingdale, to whom they fell 3-0 to in their first meeting.
Girls basketball, Plant (8-4) at Spoto (10-3), 6:30 Wednesday: Spoto's Brianna Thomas and Deandra Davis each average at least 15 points, 5.5 rebounds.
Girls basketball, Holy Names (11-2) at Tampa Catholic (14-1), 7:30 Friday: Crusaders are coming off an impressive win at the Father Lopez Tournament. Jags hope a 37-point loss to TC this season wasn't their true form.
Boys soccer, Jesuit (9-2-3) at Steinbrenner (7-1-1), 7 Friday: Critical contest in Class 4A, District 9, where the first-year Warriors (6-0) hold a slight lead over a Tigers team (4-0-1) that has played a far tougher schedule to this point.
Boys soccer, Plant City (7-0-2) at Durant (5-2-3), 8 Friday: Plant City (3-0-1 in 5A-8) enters the week with a slight edge over the Cougars (2-0-2) in district standings. Durant has won its past four.
Boys basketball, Berkeley Prep (9-4) at Tampa Prep (8-3), 2 (Headmaster's Challenge) Saturday: During pregame of this highly intense rivalry, we expect some local dignitary to throw out the ceremonial record book.
Girls soccer, Berkeley Prep (8-4-1) at Tampa Prep (10-3-2), noon (Headmaster's Challenge) Saturday: Berkeley won the first meeting 1-0, but Terps were without leading scorer Colby Maffei.