TAMPA — Seffner Christian started the boys basketball season by losing its first six games, and a lot of folks wondered if the Crusaders had completely lost their mojo after last year’s run the Class 3A state final.
This year’s challenges were numerous, including: Four starters played on the football team, which made it all the way to the state semifinals, meaning the basketball team didn’t have their full roster until the season’s third game; Seffner was playing a brutally tough schedule; it took a while for the football players to get into basketball shape; and one of the Crusaders’ top players, Willie Jones, had to take a few weeks off for personal reasons.
“To say the least, it has been a roller-coaster,” Seffner Christian coach Sam Moorer said. “But we hung in there and now I think we’re in pretty good shape.”
If Wednesday’s Class 3A, District 5 semifinal was any indication, the Crusaders, despite coming into Wednesday with an 11-15 record, are again in very good shape.
Not only did Seffner Christian beat Tampa Prep on Wednesday, but the Crusaders beat the Terrapins from start to finish, running away with a 63-47 victory.
Seffner Christian did it with solid play across the board led by forward Mike Trigg (17 points) and Jones, who scored 16 only a few days after returning from his long absence.
“Having Jones back gave everybody a huge boost,” Moorer said. “We had a lot more energy. ... Beating Tampa Prep today meant a lot to all of us. We needed this.”
A few weeks ago it was a different story when Tampa Prep (21-6) defeated Seffner Christian 66-64. Unlike that game, Tampa Prep started slowly on Wednesday, trailing 13-5 after the first quarter and 35-15 at the half.
“We didn’t shoot well,” Tampa Prep coach Joe Fenlon said. “Sometimes that happens.”
Now the Crusaders move on to play In Friday’s district final against Berkeley Prep, which defeated Brooks DeBartolo 72-41 in Wednesday’s other district semi.
Earlier this season, Berkeley (21-4) defeated Seffner Christian 57-42, but this time it is expected to be much closer.
Win or lose — after looking at the standings and strength of schedule — it appears Seffner Christian, Berkeley and Tampa Prep all have a good shot at regionals.