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High school boys basketball rankings for Tampa Bay

East Lake, the last remaining unbeaten team in the area, remains in the top spot for the second straight week.
Dionte Blanch, right, and East Lake remain on top of our rankings after running their unbeaten mark to 15-0. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
Dionte Blanch, right, and East Lake remain on top of our rankings after running their unbeaten mark to 15-0. [DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Jan. 14

And then there was one. East Lake is the only unbeaten team left in Tampa Bay after Wharton lost Monday. The Eagles’ perfect record will be challenged Saturday against Miami Doral Academy in the Wally Keller Classic, held at Punta Gorda Charlotte. Here are the rankings for the week.

1. East Lake (15-0)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Palm Harbor University, Friday vs. Gaither, Saturday vs. Miami Doral Academy (at Charlotte’s Wally Keller Classic)

Last week: No. 1

Why they stayed put: Wins against Clearwater and Largo last week all but clinched the North division spot in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game for the Eagles. Dionte Blanch showed he can do it all. The Murray State signee repeatedly drove to the lane and finished with 28 points against the Tornadoes. Blanch followed that up by stepping back to hit seven 3-pointers and scoring 35 points against the Packers. Milestones were hit during that stretch, too, with Jordan Hillmon topping 1,000 points for his career. East Lake finished the week by routing Freedom and defending Class 2A state finalist Seffner Christian to remain unbeaten. Against the Crusaders, Dean Gabrelcik hit six 3-pointers, including four straight to open the third quarter, and led all scorers with 24 points. The Eagles’ biggest test this week comes Saturday against defending region finalist Miami Doral Academy at the Wally Keller Classic held at Punta Gorda Charlotte High.

Related: East Lake boys pull away after a tight first half vs. Clearwater

2. Tampa Catholic (11-5)

Up next: Friday at Leesburg, Saturday vs. Fort Lauderdale Stranahan (at Charlotte’s Wally Keller Classic)

Last week: No. 2

Why they stayed put: After playing in three tournaments in as many states during the break, the Crusaders were able to relax a bit with just one game last week. Of course, that game came against rival Jesuit before a sold-out crowd. All those tough games early in the season and in those tournaments paid off. Trailing by five vs. the Tigers early in the fourth quarter, Tampa Catholic called a timeout. After that, the Crusaders outscored their arch-nemesis 16-0 the rest of the way to win 52-41. Johni Broome had perhaps his best game of the season, finishing with 21 points and 23 rebounds. On Monday, Tampa Catholic hosted a team from Australia and won 84-42. The challenging schedule continues with games against Leesburg on Friday and Fort Lauderdale Stranahan on Saturday.

Related: Tampa Catholic finishes strong to beat rival Jesuit

3. Lakewood (13-2)

Lakewood's TJ Tampa works his way to the hoop during practice. [DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times]

Up next: Friday at St. Petersburg, Saturday vs. South Miami (@Charlotte’s Wally Keller Classic)

Last week: No. 3

Why they stayed put: The Spartans, winners of 11 straight, keep getting better. Their last four games have been decided by double digits, including a 68-57 win over Clearwater and a 63-52 victory over Anclote on consecutive nights. Four players reached double figures in scoring against the Sharks, led by Oteman Delancy with 17. Afterward, Lakewood coach Anthony Lawrence praised his team’s balance. Twelve players are averaging at least one point per game and four of the starters are averaging eight. The biggest challenge to the win streak will come this weekend with a rematch of an overtime game against St. Petersburg on Friday and a matchup against South Miami in the Wally Keller Classic on Saturday.

Related: Lakewood boys top a streaking Anclote in St. Petersburg Shootout

4. Tampa Prep (13-1)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Sunlake, Thursday at Calvary Christian, Saturday vs. Land O’Lakes (@Wiregrass Ranch’s Ulrich Classic)

Last week: No. 7

Why they moved up: The Terrapins, who are now in a district that includes Berkeley Prep and Seffner Christian, established themselves as one of the front-runners for the Class 3A-5 title after knocking off the rival Buccaneers in last week’s Headmasters Challenge. Jaden Gray had 20 points and Gabriel Sharp added 14 to lead Tampa Prep in scoring. Sharp, a senior, reached the 1,000-point career milestone earlier in the week. Tampa Prep, which has won six straight, puts that streak to the test with games against Sunlake, Calvary Christian and Land O’ Lakes this week.

5. Riverview (12-1)

Riverview senior Jordan Clark works the ball up the floor during a 63-52 victory over visiting Wharton on Monday. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]

Up next: Tuesday at Durant, Friday vs. Lennard

Last week: Unranked

Why they moved in: It is time to make amends for snubbing the Sharks, who were not even on the bubble this season. Riverview proved it belonged among the top teams, especially after beating Sickles last week and knocking off previously undefeated Wharton on Monday. The Sharks, who have yet to lose to an area team, also have quality wins against Land O’ Lakes, Lennard and Newsome. It is a remarkable turnaround for a program three years removed from a winless season. Jaden Ramos, who scored 27 points in the win over the Wildcats, reached the 1,000-point career milestone last week.

Related: Riverview boys get statement basketball victory vs. Wharton

6. Wharton (12-1)

Up next: Tuesday at Steinbrenner, Friday vs. Plant. Saturday vs. TBA (@Seminole’s Keith MacCollom Shootout)

Last week: No. 4

Why they moved down: It is hard to drop the Wildcats too far after their first loss of the season. Down by 24, Wharton kept battling and cut the deficit to 11 at the end vs. Riverview. Carr Thiam hit six 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 32 points. Wharton has a chance to bounce back against Steinbrenner on Tuesday and at Seminole’s Keith MacCollom Shootout on Saturday.

7. Blake (14-2)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Robinson, Thursday at Jesuit, Friday vs. Middleton

Last week: No. 8

Why they moved up: The Yellow Jackets were undefeated last week, beating Jefferson, Steinbrenner and Spoto all by 26 or more points. Emanuel Sharp, who is averaging 34.2 points per game, has scored 23 or more in every game this season. This week, Blake has a chance to sweep Robinson and Jesuit in the regular season, as well as secure the top seed in the Class 5A, District 9 tournament.

8. Berkeley Prep (11-2)

Up next: Tuesday at Bishop McLaughlin, Friday vs. Brooks DeBartolo, Saturday vs. Anclote (at Seminole’s Keith MacCollom Shootout)

Last week: No. 5

Why they moved down: After starting 10-0, the Buccaneers have lost two of three, though the losses came against Tampa Prep and Wharton, both ranked among the top six in the area. Berkeley Prep has a chance to get back on track with games against Bishop McLaughlin and Brooks DeBartolo before facing Anclote in Seminole’s Keith MacCollom Shootout on Saturday.

9. Clearwater (12-3)

Clearwater coach Kris Foote recently picked up career win No. 100. [DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times]

Up next: Thursday at Countryside, Saturday vs. TBA (at Seminole’s Keith MacCollom Shootout)

Last week: No. 6

Why they moved down: The Tornadoes returned from the break with tournament titles and plenty of momentum. But they stumbled a bit with losses to East Lake and Lakewood, both ranked among the top three in the area. Clearwater rebounded to beat Tampa Bay Tech at its own shootout and followed that up by routing Bradenton Bayshore on Monday. The Tornadoes set a few milestones against the Titans. Max Jones topped 1,000 points for his career and Kris Foote recorded his 100th career victory.

10. Seminole (10-4)

Up next: Tuesday at Gibbs, Thursday at Bradenton Manatee, Saturday vs. TBA

Last week: No. 11

Why they moved up: The Warhawks went 3-0 last week, including impressive victories over St. Petersburg and Winter Haven. Parker Conitz, who hit the 1,000-point career milestone earlier in the week, scored a team-high 22 points and had 10 rebounds against the Blue Devils. Teammate Eli Cotto hit 6-of-6 free throws, the last coming with 4.2 seconds left to seal the win.

Related: Seminole boys edge Winter Haven at Clearwater Shootout The host Tornadoes, Admiral Farragut

11. St. Petersburg (10-4)

Up next: Tuesday at Bradenton Manatee, Thursday at Palmetto, Friday vs. Lakewood

Last week: No. 9

Why they moved down: After losing to Seminole, the Green Devils came back to win three straight last week, beating Northeast, Boca Ciega and Braden River all by double digits. Against the Pirates, St. Petersburg had a commanding lead in the second half and was able to play nearly everyone on the roster.

12. Hillsborough (12-5)

The Hillsborough defense, here led by junior Jalen Harris, was stout throughout a 57-39 victory over visiting Bloomingdale last Friday. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]

Up next: Tuesday at Tampa Bay Tech, Friday at King

Last week: No. 10

Why they moved down: The Terriers had their six-game win streak snapped with an overtime loss to Palmetto on Monday. Tyriq James, who reached 1,000 career points last week, scored a team-high 31 against the Tigers and Cantia Rahming added 22.

Related: No questioning Hillsborough boys’ intensity in district romp

13. Anclote (11-4)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Mitchell, Wednesday vs. Wesley Chapel, Saturday vs. Berkeley Prep (at Seminole’s Keith MacCollom Shootout)

Last week: No. 12

Why they moved down: A loss to Lakewood at St. Petersburg’s shootout last weekend snapped the Sharks’ five-game win streak. All four losses are to area teams that are ranked. Jalen Cooper leads the team in scoring (23.4 points per game) and rebounds (10.1).

Related: Six Tampa Bay basketball players who are ball hogs in the best way

14. Sunlake (10-4)

Up next: Tuesday at Tampa Prep, Friday vs. Mitchell

Last week: No. 13

Why they moved down: The Seahawks won both of their games last week to recover from a 2-3 finish during tournaments at the end of the holiday break. Sunlake jumped out a 10-point lead against Wiregrass Ranch, then had to hold on in a 49-45 victory over its rival.

15. Jesuit (10-5)

Up next: Thursday vs. Blake, Friday at Chamberlain

Last week: No. 15

Why they stayed put: Though the Tigers lost to rival Tampa Catholic, snapping their three-game win streak, they are starting to put things together. Jesuit gave the host Crusaders fits for three quarters before faltering down the stretch. On Thursday, the Tigers will try to avenge a loss to Blake earlier in the season and force a tie at the top of the Class 5A, District 9 standings.

On the bubble

Clearwater Central Catholic (11-2), Plant (9-4), Sickles (9-6), Land O’ Lakes (9-5), Wesley Chapel (10-4), Zephyrhills (10-4), Springstead (11-3), Central (11-4), Newsome (8-4), Lennard (8-5)

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Tampa Catholic's Kobe Knox dunks for two  of his 12 points in a 68-64 victory over Berkeley Prep on Friday night. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    The Crusaders don’t lead until the fourth quarter, but edge the Bucs 68-64.
  2. With seniors like Parker Conitz, pictured at left here with fellow Clearwater Shootout Player of the Game Joshua Celiscar of Winter Haven and Clearwater High coach Kris Foote, Seminole believes it can claim another district banner for the gym. [CUCK FRYE  |  Special to the Times]
    Classification and district realignment make the Warhawks’ path to a title not as daunting.
  3. Fivay girls basketball players, from left: Marielis Creque, Jania Jones and Savannah Shaffer. [RODNEY PAGE   |  Times]
    The Falcons are a postseason threat and there’s not a senior to be found on the roster.
  4. Junior Talon Bergantino is among Central's leading scorers this season. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    After taking their lumps vs. their older siblings, Talon and Caden Bergantino have emerged as fierce competitors for the Bears.
  5. Karim Nohra pulls no punches in getting his Carrollwood Day team ready for another playoff push. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    The Patriot girls notch another lopsided basketball victory with a senior-dominated team.
  6. Kobe Knox, center, and Tampa Catholic regain the top spot in the rankings thanks to recent wins over Leesburg, Naples and Seffner Christian. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
    Tampa Catholic takes over the top spot again after an impressive showing last week.
  7. Tampa Prep's Arianna Mosley (10), center, challenges the Wesley Chapel defense during a December game. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    Little change at the top as the regular season winds down.
  8. Flag football players from left to right: Steinbrenner's Jacqueline Figueredo, Robinson's Emily Kemp, Leto's Anaily Mendoza, along with Martha Minahan at Monday night's (Jan. 20, 2020) sixth annual Bill Minahan scholarship awards dinner. [ERNEST HOOPER  |  Special to the Times]
    Chamberlain’s James Ash, Wharton’s Edwouens Marcelin, Steinbrenner’s Jacqueline Figueredo and Robinson’s Emily Kemp are also honored at the sixth annual awards banquet.
  9. Chamberlain offensive tackle Cesar Reyes said via Twitter on Sunday he plans to sign with USF. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    The Bulls fortify depth at quarterback and on the offensive line.
  10. Jesuit's Brett Gerena (7) celebrates recovering a fumble in the third quarter of this past season's Class 5A region semifinals. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Times]
    The Black Knights have commitments for 2020 from five locals, the most of any Division I-A program in the country. And they may gain more.
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