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High school boys basketball rankings for Tampa Bay

Tampa Catholic remains in the top spot for the final rankings of the season.
Marcellus Crutchfield and Tampa Catholic have won 10 straight games heading into the district tournament, where the Crusaders are a top seed. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
Marcellus Crutchfield and Tampa Catholic have won 10 straight games heading into the district tournament, where the Crusaders are a top seed. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
Published Feb. 10

The regular season is over. Now, it is time to see how the Florida High School Athletic Association’s revamped playoff format does in its debut. After all the algorithms and tabulations of strength of schedule, this much is certain: Tampa Catholic is the top team in the area. The Crusaders enter the Class 4A, District 10 tournament ranked sixth overall in the state by MaxPreps, the highest of any team in the area.

1. Tampa Catholic (20-5)

Up next: Wednesday vs. Lemon Bay-Gibbs winner (Class 4A, District 10 semifinals)

Last week: No. 1

Why they stayed put: Since losing in the final of the Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic in early January, the Crusaders have won 10 straight. The streak is even more impressive when you consider Tampa Catholic beat Berkeley Prep, Huntington Prep, Jesuit (twice), Leesburg, Naples and Tampa Prep during that span. Johni Broome had 30 points and 15 rebounds in the second win over the rival Tigers to complete the regular-season sweep.

Related: Seven Tampa Bay boys basketball teams with the best shot at reaching state

2. Lakewood (21-4)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Sarasota Military Academy (Class 4A, District 10 quarterfinals)

Last week: No. 2

Why they moved up: The Spartans remained unbeaten against area foes after knocking off East Lake in an anticipated matchup to win the Pinellas County Athletic Conference title. Three players — TJ Tampa (17 points), Oteman Delancy (15) and Jamille Reynolds (13) — reached double figures in scoring against the Eagles. On Friday, Lakewood could end up meeting Tampa Catholic in the final of the Class 4A, District 10 tournament.

Related: Lakewood tops East Lake for boys basketball conference title

3. East Lake (21-3)

East Lake guard Dean Gabrelcik is one of the Eagles' most dependable scorers. [DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times]

Up next: Wednesday vs. Gaither-Mitchell winner (Class 6A, District 9 semifinals at Wiregrass Ranch)

Last week: No. 3

Why they moved down: For the first time this season, the Eagles have lost consecutive games, the last one coming in the conference final to deny them a second straight title. To turn things around, East Lake has to find more balance on offense. In both losses, Dionte Blanch and Dean Gabrelcik accounted for nearly 70 percent of the scoring. Against Orlando Christian Prep two weeks ago, they combined for 52 of the Eagles’ 56 points. Despite those setbacks, the Eagles still are well-positioned to make a deep run in the playoffs.

4. Seminole (16-5)

Up next: Wednesday vs. Largo-Bradenton Manatee winner (Class 6A, District 10 semifinals)

Why they moved up: The Warhawks finished the regular season on a six-game win streak, which includes victories over Wharton, Palmetto and Clearwater. In its only game last week, Seminole cruised to 77-61 win over rival Largo.

5. Wharton (22-3)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Palm Harbor University-Alonso winner (Class 7A, District 7 semifinals)

Last week: No. 7

Why they moved up: The Wildcats finished strong, closing out the regular season with six straight wins. The biggest victory last week came against Hillsborough. Trailing by nine points at the half, Wharton turned it on, outscoring the Terriers 22-5 in the third quarter en route to a 52-37 win.

6. Berkeley Prep (20-4)

Junior RJ Garcia and Berkeley Prep have been tested by a competitive schedule heading into districts. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]

Up next: Wednesday vs. Bell Creek-Brooks DeBartolo winner (Class 3A, District 5 semifinals)

Last week: No. 8

Why they moved up: The Buccaneers put things together at the right time, winning five of their final six games in the regular season. The lone loss during that span came in overtime against national power Huntington Prep (W. Va.). In the regular-season finale, Berkeley Prep beat rival Tampa Prep to avenge a loss from earlier in the season.

7. Tampa Prep (20-5)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Bishop McLaughlin (Class 3A, District 5 quarterfinals)

Last week: No. 5

Why they moved down: Playing a schedule back-loaded with difficult games, the Terrapins stumbled a bit, losing three of their past four. Still, Tampa Prep ended up securing the No. 2 seed in the Class 3A, District 5 tournament and could face Berkeley Prep for the third time this season in Friday’s final.

8. Blake (21-4)

Up next: Wednesday vs. Middleton-Robinson winner (Class 5A, District 9 semifinals at Chamberlain)

Last week: No. 6

Why they moved down: The Yellow Jackets had their six-game win streak snapped with a 62-52 loss to Sebring at the Mosaic Springer Classic. Emanuel Sharp had 33 points, four steals and four rebounds in the regular-season finale. Blake owns the No. 1 seed in this week’s Class 5A, District 9 tournament hosted by Chamberlain.

Related: Blake’s Emanuel Sharp: Charismatic, confident and a beast with the ball

9. Clearwater (20-4)

Up next: Wednesday vs. Bradenton Bayshore-Countryside winner (Class 5A, District 9 semifinals at Countryside)

Last week: No. 9

Why they stayed put: The Tornadoes went 2-0 last week, beating Tarpon Springs 83-34 and Pinellas Park 83-47. Max Jones had 29 points, seven rebounds and four steals in the win over the Patriots to close out the regular season. Clearwater, undefeated against Class 5A, District 10 competition, has the No. 1 seed in this week’s tournament.

10. Land O’ Lakes (18-5)

Land O' Lakes junior Nate Santana rejects a shot by Zephyrhills senior Dontae Marchman during a recent victory. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]

Up next: Wednesday vs. Pasco-Fivay winner (Class 5A, District 6 semifinals at Zephyrhills)

Last week: No. 12

Why they moved up: After giving retiring coach Dave Puhlaski a proper sendoff two weeks ago, the Gators continued their late-season momentum by beating Gulf (54-14) and Wesley Chapel (66-58) to extend their win streak to nine. Mekhi Perry scored 27 points and Chase Farmer added 20 against the Wildcats.

Related: Three decades of bliss, blessings for Land O’Lakes coach Dave Puhalski

11. Jesuit (19-6)

Up next: Monday vs. Spoto (Class 5A, District 9 semifinals)

Last week: No. 11

Why they stayed put: The Tigers had their nine-game win streak snapped with a loss to rival Tampa Catholic. Much like the first meeting, Jesuit started strong, jumping out to a 26-15 lead in the first quarter. It was not enough as the Crusaders outscored them in every quarter the rest of the way to complete the season sweep.

12. Hillsborough (18-7)

Up next: Wednesday vs. East Bay-Brandon winner (Class 6A, District 8 semifinals)

Last week: No. 10

Why they moved down: Finishing the regular season with a pair of challenging games, the Terriers lost to Wharton (52-37) and to Lakeland George Jenkins (45-32) to end their seven-game win streak. But those games also helped Hillsborough prepare for the upcoming Class 6A, District 8 tournament as the No. 1 seed.

13. Riverview (18-4)

Up next: Monday vs. North Port (Class 7A, District 8 quarterfinals).

Last week: No. 13

Why they stayed put: On senior night, the Sharks finished the regular season by routing Leto 72-32. It was the most points Riverview had scored in a game in more than a month. The Sharks, the No. 3 seed in the Class 7A, District 8 tournament, host No. 6 North Port in an opening-round game on Monday.

14. Anclote (20-5)

Up next: Wednesday vs. Hudson-Cypress Creek winner (Class 4A, District 8 semifinals at Wesley Chapel)

Last week: No. 14

Why they stayed put: The Sharks enter the Class 4A, District 8 tournament on a seven-game win streak. The offense has been explosive, scoring more than 80 points in three of the past four games. The leaders are Jalen Cooper (23.3 points, 10.3 rebounds) and Jakob Hester (18.1 points, 9.4 rebounds), both Palm Beach Atlantic signees.

15. Sickles (19-6)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Plant-Steinbrenner winner (Class 7A, District 7 semifinals at Wharton)

Last week: No. 15

Why they stayed put: The Gryphons have won 11 straight, currently the longest streak in the county. They finished the regular season by cruising to victories over Robinson (69-39) and Jefferson (78-48). Dillon Mitchell and Gary Jones III each scored 23 points in the win over the Dragons.

On the bubble: St. Petersburg (17-8), Clearwater Central Catholic (18-7), Central (18-6), Springstead (16-7), Zephyrhills (17-7), Sunlake (17-7), Wesley Chapel (16-8), Newsome (14-8), Lennard (16-9).

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  2. Florida State's Elizabeth Mason (5) is on deck Friday as fans pack the stands and line up along the fence during the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational at the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater.
  3. The high school baseball season is in full swing starting with Monday's Steve Georgiadis Memorial Tournament at Seminole High.
  4. Team USA's Bubba Nickles gets a hit against the Liberty University Flames at the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational on Wednesday.
  5. Shorecrest's Samuel Idinge poses with a team award. Created by graduated senior Brendan Smith last year "from PVC found in the locker room and a soccer ball," each gold ring indicates a team victory. Saturday's region semifinal win over Indian Rocks Christian will add ring  No. 15.
  6. Jesuit beats Land O' Lakes 4-3 on Saturday night in the Class 5A region semifinals.
  7. Liberty coach Dot Richardson watches her team from the dugout before facing Team USA at the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational.
  8. Tampa Catholic senior Kobe Knox led all scorers with 28 points in an 85-57 victory over district rival Lakewood on Friday night.
  9. St. Petersburg's Alexa Goldberg, seen here from a game earlier this season, notches the final PK on Friday to send the Green Devils to the region final.
  10. From left, Seminole's Parker Conitz, Joey Schweitzer, Rafael Oriano and Sam Denor pose with the Class 6A, District 10 trophy Friday.
  11. A tight fourth quarter vs. Seffner Christian on Friday night goes Berkeley Prep's way in part because of a key 6-0 run.
  12. Land O' Lakes senior Mekhi Perry, seen here in a game against Zephyrhills earlier this season, scores 34 against the Bulldogs in Friday's district title match.
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