WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m. today. Lecanto High
WHO: Orlando Bishop Moore (21-8) at Lecanto (22-4)
HOW THEY GOT HERE: District 6 champion Lecanto knocked off Green Cove Springs Clay High with a 57-48 win. Lecanto relied on its speed to outpace Clay, a much bigger, stronger team. Bishop Moore's DJ Ferguson scored 22, helped by teammate Danny Krazit's 20 points to win 55-46 over Springstead.
A CHANCE TO MAKE HISTORY: If Lecanto wins, it will be the first time in school history a boys basketball team has accomplished such a feat.
PLAYOFF HISTORY: This is the third time the Panthers have reached the region semifinals. The other times were in 1998 and 2002.
BACKGROUND ON BISHOP MOORE: Bishop Moore hasn't dominated its region, though it consistently is one of the best in the district. In fact, Bishop Moore's very presence in the playoffs this season is a testament to will and perseverance. Last season, during the Hornets' district championship game against rival Eustis, then-coach Rob Graham had a heart attack on the sidelines. He was in a coma five weeks. Bishop Moore lost the district title, then fell to top-ranked Florida Air Academy in the region quarterfinals. It was a trying, stressful season. The Hornets (21-8) come to Lecanto under a new coach, Irwin Hudson, formerly an assistant with Lake Howell, a Class 5A school outside of Orlando that has been a state title contender the past few years. "I took this job like two weeks before the season started," Hudson said. "I was already in the process of getting my Lake Howell boys ready." Then the team lost two starters due to behavior issues, according to Hudson. This essentially left the new coach with a new team. The Hornets start one senior, two juniors and two sophomores, led by Danny Krazit, who averages 18 points. "From losing Coach Graham to me coming in late and losing some key guys - this team has really exceeded expectations," Hudson said. "But I still think we've got some things left that we can do."
THE MATCHUP: Lecanto faces a similar team in Bishop Moore. Both teams have depth, speed, like to shoot the 3 and have similar size, though the Hornets are slightly taller with every player, except one at 6 feet and taller. Ferguson, a 6-foot-1 senior point guard, can pull up for the short jump shots. Unlike Lecanto, Bishop Moore likes the zone and doesn't press as often. Krazit, a 6-foot-1 junior guard, is a strong 3-point shooter who can drive to the basket. Senior Mike Miller, a 6-foot-3 post player, also can score from the perimeter. Lecanto's strength is in its numbers. The Panthers can two-platoon it and give their starting five a rest, which has been key to their strategy. Senior guard Mychal Nichols leads the team in scoring, averaging 18 points, but inside Greg Simerly and Collin Pugh split time, each averaging three rebounds a game, helped by Richard Chaney (13 points, six rebounds), Eddie Buckley (14 points, four rebounds) and Ryan Blakeslee (seven points, three rebounds). Victor Cortes, Bryan Hamer, Jared Brantley, Joey Viverito and Carlos Santos also have played key roles this season. Bishop Moore typically uses a nine-man rotation but can go 11 deep.
UP NEXT: If Lecanto wins, the Panthers face the Atlantic-Eustis winner on the road Saturday in the regional finals.