Class 4A: Tampa Catholic (26-5) vs. Orlando Lake Highland Prep (23-9)
When/where: 12:30 p.m. today; RP Funding Center, Lakeland
How they got here: Tampa Catholic d. Gibbs 69-46, d. Lakewood 62-42, d. Titusville Astronaut 93-69, d. Orlando Lake Highland Prep 65-54; Fort Lauderdale Stranahan d. Miami Monsignor Pace 111-86, d. Fort Lauderdale University 63-61, d. Miami Gulliver Prep 58-54, d. Jacksonville Paxson 59-54.
Top players: Tampa Catholic: F Johni Broome, Sr. (19.5 points, 10.9 rebounds); G Marcellus Crutchfield, Sr. (7.8 points, 4.4 assists); F Isaiah Elmore, Sr. (6.4 points, 6.2 rebounds); F Alijah Harrison, Sr. (9.8 points, 2.9 rebounds); G Kobe Knox, Sr. (17.1 points, 3.8 assists); Fort Lauderdale Stranahan: G Chayse Culpepper, Sr.; C Inady Legiste, Sr.; F Daquion Vickers, Sr. (team did not provide individual stats to the Florida High School Athletic Association).
Outlook: The Crusaders are trying to win their first state title since 1995. The team that won the school’s only title 25 years ago featured some prominent athletes who went on to star in other sports such as former Miami quarterback and Tampa Bay Devil Ray Kenny Kelly and former Seattle Seahawks receiver Darrell Jackson. This season, Tampa Catholic has five senior starters, nearly all of whom have been to the state semifinals every year of their high school careers. Another senior, Preston Bolling, won the Hillsborough County Heart of a Champion award. Bolling’s mother had brain surgery to deal with a tumor. He never missed a practice or a game. Stranahan is a defending state champion. Chayse and Houston Culpepper, both guards, are the sons of former UCF and NFL quarterback Daunte Culpepper. The Mighty Dragons are dedicating this season to coach Terrence Williams, whose mother passed away.