HomeTeam 25: Boys basketball rankings for Tampa Bay

Jesuit High School's point guard Thierry Moliere during the Jesuit vs. Robinson game on Friday, December 8, 2017, at Jesuit High School in Tampa, Fla. The final score was Jesuit 66 and Robinson 41. (Alessandra Da Pra, Times)
Jesuit High School's point guard Thierry Moliere during the Jesuit vs. Robinson game on Friday, December 8, 2017, at Jesuit High School in Tampa, Fla. The final score was Jesuit 66 and Robinson 41. (Alessandra Da Pra, Times)
Published Dec. 19, 2017|Updated Dec. 19, 2017

1. St. Petersburg (7-0)

This week: Idle

The buzz: In last week's anticipated matchup against Countryside, the Green Devils prevailed 62-61 to take over sole possession of first place in Class 8A, District 10. Tai Strickland, who had coaches from Dayton in attendance, scored the winner on a putback of his own missed shot with 12 seconds remaining to knock previously undefeated Countryside on the road. Strickland also had a team-high 17 points in the Green Devils' other win against Pinellas Park last week. St. Petersburg has the week off because of exams. They travel to San Diego for the Holiday Classic on Dec. 27-30.

2. Tampa Catholic (6-0)

This week: Thursday vs. Wiregrass Ranch (City of Tampa Shootout); Friday vs. Palmetto (City of Tampa Shootout); Saturday vs. Tampa Catholic (City of Tampa Shootout).

The buzz: In their only game last week, the Crusaders demolished Sarasota Military Academy 97-21 to improve to 4-0 in Class 5, District 9 play. Tampa Catholic had 12 players who scored, including five in double figures. Kobe Knox, younger brother of Kentucky freshman Kevin Knox, led the way with 21 points. Tim Carter had 16 points, 10 assists and five steals. The Crusaders' biggest game this week is against rival Tampa Prep at the City of Tampa Shootout. The following week, Tampa Catholic travels to Brooklyn for the Monsignor King Classic in Brooklyn (Dec. 27-30).

3. Countryside (3-1)

This week: Saturday vs. Punta Gorda Charlotte (Lemon Bay Shootout)

The buzz: It is hard to knock the Cougars down much after losing to St. Petersburg in their only game last week. Countryside let a 10-point first-half lead slip away, then traded baskets and the lead with the Green Devils in the final three minutes. CJ Williams was stellar, scoring a game-high 26 points — 12 coming in the fourth quarter. At one point, Williams scored five straight to give the Cougars the lead and hit a pair of free throws to put his team ahead 62-61 with 40 seconds left. Countryside will try to rebound Saturday with a game against Punta Gorda Charlotte.

4. Admiral Farragut (5-1)

This week: Thursday-Saturday at Fleming Island Tournament

The buzz: The Blue Jackets have won five straight, including an impressive 72-59 win over Windermere Prep. But the highlights came in an 81-51 victory over IMG Academy's Blue Team. Christian Curry had four steals. Andreas Fuller had three alley-oop dunks. And Winston Dessesow knocked down three 3-pointers. The tough early-season schedule continues with Admiral Farragut traveling to play in Fleming Island's tournament.

5. Tampa Prep (3-0)

This week: Thursday vs. Palmetto (City of Tampa Shootout); Friday vs. Wiregrass Ranch (City of Tampa Shootout); Saturday vs. Tampa Catholic (City of Tampa Shootout)

The buzz: After a week off, the Terrapins return for their City of Tampa Shootout with three tough games, including two against teams ranked in the top 25. The premier matchup comes Saturday against Tampa Catholic in a matchup of undefeated teams. The following week, Tampa Catholic travels to play in the Battle of the Villages tournament at the Villages Charter School on Dec. 27-30.

6. Plant (7-0)

This week: Idle

The buzz: The Panthers won all three games last week, beating Gaither, Sickles and Steinbrenner each by double digits. The perfect start has helped Plant vault to 18th overall in the state and No. 5 in Class 8A according to MaxPreps' latest rankings. The Panthers get a break this week before traveling to Ridgewood for the Ram Classic on Dec. 27-30.

7. Jesuit (8-1)

This week: Idle

The buzz: The Tigers beat Spoto, Jefferson and Chamberlain last week to extend their win streak to five. The win against Spoto was a 58-52 double-overtime thriller. Jack Cooper and Thierry Moliere each scored more than 20 points and were a combined 9-of-11 from the line against the Spartans. Jesuit has the week off before traveling to Memphis for the St. Pius X Christmas Classic on Dec. 28-30.

8. Berkeley Prep (5-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. IMG Academy Blue; Wednesday vs. Bradenton St. Stephen's

The buzz: The blowouts continued as the Buccaneers beat Sarasota Military Academy and Cypress Creek each by more than 35 points last week. Chase Barrs had a career-high 24 points and eight rebounds and Kaleb Karnes added 11 points and nine rebounds in the win against Sarasota Military Academy. Berkeley Prep has won each of its first five games by 19 or more points.

9. Wharton (6-1)

This week: Idle

The buzz: The Wildcats, winners of five straight, moved up to No. 7 in Class 8A in MaxPreps' latest rankings, two spots behind Plant. Darin Green Jr. had 23 points and six rebounds in Wharton's win over Gaither. Much like the past few seasons, the Wildcats will take a breather through the holidays before returning with a loaded schedule that starts off with a shootout at Clearwater on Jan. 5-6.

10. Plant City (5-1)

This week: Thursday vs. Florida State University High (at Tallahassee's Capital City Classic); Friday vs. Marianna (at Tallahassee's Capital City Classic); Saturday vs. Florida A&M (at Tallahassee's Capital City Classic).

The buzz: The Raiders moved into first place in Class 8A, District 9 after beating Tampa Bay Tech 79-74 last week. Matt Simpson led all scorers with 30 points. Justyn King had 17 and Jordyn Manning added 13, including several key free throws down the stretch. This week, Plant City will be tested with three challenging games at Capital City Classic in Tallahassee.

Related: Girls basketball rankings 

11. Gibbs (5-1)

This week: Friday vs. Boca Ciega; Saturday at Auburndale (Christmas Shootout)

The buzz: Typical of most games against Lakewood, the outcome was not decided until the final shot. The Gladiators could not one to fall on an off night shooting and lost 46-44. This week, Gibbs hosts another rival, Boca Ciega, then travels to Auburndale. The Gladiators have won the past two meetings against the Bloodhounds, including a 58-56 overtime thriller two years ago.

12. Tampa Bay Tech (6-2)

This week: Idle

The buzz: After winning their first four games, the Titans have lost two of their last four, including one against Plant City that dropped them to second place in the Class 8A, District 9 standings. Tyrick Brascom had a game-high 27 points against the Raiders. Tampa Bay Tech is off for the holidays. The Titans resume play Jan. 9 against East Bay.

13. Lakewood (4-2)

This week: Friday vs. Northeast

The buzz: With a young team, Spartans coach Anthony Lawrence knew there would some early season struggles. Sure enough, Lakewood started the season 3-2. But last week's game against rival Gibbs provided the perfect tonic. The Spartans overcame an early deficit and took control late in a 46-44 win. Lakewood hosts Northeast on Friday before taking the rest of the month off.

14. Hillsborough (8-0)

This week: Idle

The buzz: The December schedule did not provide many challenges for the Terriers, who remain perfect heading into the break after beating Armwood, Blake and Chamberlain last week. Seven of the eight wins have been by double digits. All three victories last week were by 20 or more points. Myles Cowart, who is averaging 15.6 points per game, has become Hillsborough's go-to player.

15. Nature Coast (6-0)

This week: Tuesday at Citrus; Friday vs. Crystal River

The buzz: The Sharks proved that last season's loss to Central was more of an aberration after pounding their rival in a 78-29 victory last week. Nature Coast did it with defense, holding the Bears' Caleb Johnson to 10 points — 14 below his season average. Robert McAfee led the Sharks with 16 points and eight rebounds.

16. Largo (6-1)

This week: Friday at Tarpon Springs

The buzz: The first five games of the season were all decided by single digits, including two by two points and one that went into double overtime. There were no close games last week. That had a lot to do with the competition — or lack thereof. The Packers beat Dunedin and Dixie Hollins each by 27 or more points. Friday's game against Tarpon Springs is the only one until after Christmas.

17. Boca Ciega (5-1)

This week: Friday vs. Osceola

The buzz: The Pirates beat Osceola in their only game last week. The light schedule continues with Friday's game against rival Gibbs, the only one until after the winter break. Boca Ciega is trying to snap an eight-game losing streak to the Gladiators that dates to 2012. Expect a close game. The past two meetings have been decided by five points or fewer.

18. Ridgewood (6-2)

This week: Tuesday vs. River Ridge; Friday vs. Anclote

The buzz: After winning their first five games, the Rams stumbled, losing two of their past three. Last week, Ridgewood lost to Fivay, which is 4-5. Ridgewood will try to regroup this week with games against Class 6A, District 8 foes River Ridge and Anclote. Ty Quiroz leads the Rams in scoring with 21.7 points per game.

19. Sickles (5-3)

This week: Idle

The buzz: The Gryphons went 2-2 last week, beating Wiregrass Ranch and Freedom and losing to Plant and Lakeland. Denari Garrett had a team-high 22 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer, in a 58-56 win over Freedom. Close games were a theme for Sickles, which lost to the Dreadnaughts 68-67 in the Lakeland Challenge. The Gryphons return to action Dec. 27-30 in Ridgewood's Ram Classic.

20. Zephyrhills (7-1)

This week: Tuesday vs. Fivay; Friday at River Ridge

The buzz: The Bulldogs have won seven straight, currently tied with St. Petersburg and Plant for the longest streak in the area. Zephyrhills, which is tied with Ridgewood for first place in the Class 6A, District 8 standings, will try to stay at the top with games against district foes Fivay and River Ridge.

Related: Holiday hoops tournaments

21. East Lake (4-3)

This week: Idle

The buzz: The Eagles did lose to Clearwater last week, their third in Class 8A, District 10 play. But that loss was without two starters, including leading scorer Breon Hillmon, who was playing in the all-star football game. Hillmon returned and surpassed 1,000 points in his career in a win over Seminole. East Lake will return after a break this week to play in Ridgewood's Ram Classic.

22. Wiregrass Ranch (7-3)

This week: Thursday vs. Tampa Catholic (City of Tampa Shootout); Friday vs. Tampa Prep (City of Tampa Shootout); Saturday vs. Palmetto (City of Tampa Shootout)

The buzz: The Bulls snapped a three-game losing streak with wins against Freedom, Gaither and Pasco. Against the Patriots, Elijah Howell had 15 points and four steals. He leads the team in scoring with 14.9 points per game.

23. Strawberry Crest (4-2)

This week: Idle

The buzz: The Chargers' two losses were to Tampa Bay Tech and Plant City, both ranked in the top 12. Brandon Hill has been solid through the first six games, averaging 16.4 points and 10 rebounds per game. After taking this week off, Strawberry Crest returns to play in the Wayne Gandy Christmas Tournament on Dec. 27-29.

24. Hudson (6-3)

This week: Thursday vs. Land O'Lakes; Friday vs. Pasco

The buzz: The Cobras have bounced back from a three-game losing streak to beat Anclote, Wesley Chapel, River Ridge and Fivay in the past week. The offense has scored at least 83 points in all but one game. Mark Calleja is averaging 23.8 points, seven rebounds and four steals per game.

25. Seminole (4-3)

This week: Idle

The buzz: The Warhawks split their two games last week, beating Palm Harbor University and losing to East Lake. Arik Marvin had 25 points against the Hurricanes. Because of exams, Seminole has the week off. Seminole's next game is against Malone on Dec. 29.

On the bubble: Clearwater (5-3), Brooks DeBartolo (4-3), Cambridge Christian (4-2), Seffner Christian (5-3), Clearwater Central Catholic (3-2), Anclote (5-3), Newsome (4-3), Canterbury (4-3)