PLANT CITY — It will be a Tampa Bay Tech-Plant City matchup for a third straight year in the Class 8A, District 9 boys basketball final.
Host Plant City beat East Bay 71-39 in a chippy district semifinal Wednesday evening. Last season the Raiders (16-9) went to Tampa Bay Tech and won the district title. The year prior, Tampa Bay Tech took down Plant City at host Strawberry Crest.
The teams split the regular-season series. Plant City won the first matchup 61-52 on Dec. 14 before losing at Tampa Bay Tech on Jan. 24, 58-51.
“We have to be tough, definitely, for Friday against (Tampa Bay) Tech. It is the rubber match,” Plant City coach Billy Teeden said. “This is the third year in a row. I’m looking forward to it. We know each other well so it will come down to who makes more buckets than the other guy.”
The Raiders finished with four players in double figures led by Bethune Cookman signee Justyn King (18 points). Senior guard Drew Johnson had 13 points while sophomore guard Jordyn Manning added 12 points and senior guard Mykel Oyola recorded 10 points.
"(King) is 6’7 with a 7-foot wingspan. That is what he should do every night and he is doing well,” Teeden said. “We have some guys playing better at the right time so that is good.”
For East Bay (6-17), junior guard Caleb Davis finished with a team-high 15 points while senior guard Jose Romero ended the night with 13 points.
In the earlier semifinal, Tampa Bay Tech handled business against Durant in a 90-66 victory.
The senior duo of Jamarcus Robertson and Gavin Antoine combined for 54 points for the Titans (17-7).
Robertson had a game-best 34 points with 18 in the first half alone. He routinely found good areas in transition and finished near the rim. Antoine paced him with 20 points which featured his typical flashy one-handed dunks.
“I’ve been doing a lot of shooting after practice, working on my mid-range game and 3-pointers,” Robertson said. “I’ve just been getting more shots off lately. It has transferred over to the games now. If I get hot, I’m going to keep it going.”
With a district championship on the line Friday night, Robertson wants a win badly after losing at home a season ago.
“It would be better because last year they beat us at our place. I’m tired of losing to them. I lost to them in football this year, too,” he said. “We have to play as a team with energy and tough defense. We got them once in the regular season but winning a district championship against them would feel even better.”
For Durant (9-13), Jeff White led his side with 22 points while fellow senior guard Brendan Maclachlan paced him with 15 points.