Girls basketball region finals
Both games at 7 Saturday night
Class 5A, Gulf (28-2) at Bartram Trail (21-6): The Buccaneers reloaded this season and find themselves in the region finals for the second time in school history. Sophomore Kayla Kivinski (18.2 points, 9.2 rebounds per game) is a player of the year candidate, and guard Kadejah Saunders (16.8 points, 6.3 steals) has had a stellar season. Mike Quarto’s team has been tested but not challenged in weeks. The Bucs haven’t lost since December, and all of their 18 consecutive victories were by double digits. But a strong Bears team stands between the Bucs and a trip to state. Bartram blew out Palatka by 24 points in the semis behind senior guard Allie Mano’s 25 points. Mano is a dynamic scorer who poured in 44 points in a game earlier this season.
Class 2A, Foundation Academy (9-11) at Academy at the Lakes (22-5): The Wildcats were one of Tampa Bay’s best stories last season, going from the North Suncoast’s cellar to the region finals. This year could be even better, because AATL has a legitimate shot at state behind players like Andrea Mauger, Amelia Oliver and Samantha Fernandez. All three scored in double digits in an 85-37 semifinal victory over previously unbeaten Walker Memorial Academy. The Wildcats have dominated since the regular season ended. They’ve won their district and region games by an average of 43 points and haven’t let an opponent surpass 49 points. AATL’s opponent is another upstart. Foundation Academy suffered an early nine-game losing streak before getting hot in the playoffs. The Wildcats must stop junior Halee Davis (17.3 points, 6.9 rebounds per game).