Posted On: 11/9/17 1:34 PM
Exactly 50 Class 4A squads are all vying to become district champions and work their way towards a state title, this year. With the regular season kicking off on November 27, what teams should you look out for? Check out the full Class 4A State Preview, below.
2016-17 4A State Champion: Ft. Lauderdale-Westminster Academy
2016-17: Runner-Up: Jacksonville-Providence
Class 4A-District 1
2016 winner: Gainesville-P.K. Yonge went 19-8 and undefeated in their district on the way to the crown. The Blue Wave beat a Maclay team that played them tough but ended up with a 78-63 win.
Teams to watch: Maclay
Other teams in district: Oak Hall
Predicted district champion: P.K. Yonge still has the deepest team, despite losing their top scorer, 2019’s Byron Smith, to The Villages. I expect to see 2020’s Jalon Speer become a better scorer, 2019’s Israel Wilcox to distribute the ball even more, and x-factor senior Will Banks IV to be a force in the paint.
Class 4A-District 2
2016 winner: The Jacksonville-Providence Stallions galloped to a 25-6 record en route to the district championship. They trounced Jacksonville-Bishop Snyder by 38 in the game, adding a W in the middle of their 16-game winning streak.
Teams to watch: Jacksonville-Bishop Snyder
Other teams in district: St. Augustine-St. Joesph, Jacksonville-Trinity Christian, Jacksonville-University Christian
Predicted district champion: Providence does a great job of remaining in contention, consistently. Snyder was there only challenger, last year. But with three seniors now gone, one of which being its second-leading scorer in Gavin Buchanon, the Stallions shouldn’t have too much to worry about. Providence has proven that they can be in the position to win every game, with their biggest loss being by eight points, last year. Look for them turn those close losses, into wins.
Class 4A-District 3
2016 winner: Orlando-First Academy were consistently hot the entire year. In the district title game, they offed Orangewood Christian by 47 points. Before falling to Seffner Christian in the regional final, they only lost one game, all year—a one-point loss to Edgewater.
Teams to watch: Belle Isle-Cornerstone Charter, Lakeland-Santa Fe Catholic, Oviedo-Master’s Academy
Other teams in district: Winter Park-Circle Christian, Lakeland Christian, Kissimmee-New Dimensions, Maitland-Orangewood Christian
Predicted district champion: With The First Academy now out of the district, the door is open. Cornerstone Charter, who went 19-7 last season, could step right through it. They lost four hoopers to 2017 graduations. Although, two of their top three scorers from last year are returning. Tyree Kenon & Nasiaire Gadsden combined for an average of 24 points, nearly 10 rebounds and eight assists a game in their junior seasons. Now-senior John Steward gave them nine points and a steal consistently last year, as well. I’d like to hear Kenon & Gadsden cutting down their turnovers, however. Both averaged at least three per game in 2016—the highest among the team. If they can be better at ball-handling, give them a real shot.
Class 4A-District 4
2016 winner: The Seffner Christian Crusaders went 8-0 in their district, 24-7 overall, on the path to the trophy. They played a tough game against St. Petersburg-Admiral Farragut, ending up with a seven-point win. Seffner’s worst loss last season came on December 2, 2016—a 26-point L vs. Lakewood Ranch.
Teams to watch: Admiral Farragut, Clearwater-Calvary Christian, Tampa-Cambridge Christian, Tampa Prep
Other teams in district: Largo-Indian Rocks Christian, St. Petersburg-Northside Christian, St. Petersburg-Shorecrest Prep, St. Petersburg Catholic, Tampa-Carrollwood
Predicted district champion: When you have five players graduate who averaged at least 16 PPG last year, other squads like Tampa Prep then have a chance. Seffner lost nine players to graduation this past spring. Four of them averaged 20 or more points a game. Prep only lost three seniors, two of which weren’t too big of a factor. Their second-leading scorer, Amari Goulbourne is gone. Although, junior Jaren Phillips, who averaged 15.6 per game last year, is present. Senior Trey Sibert, who led his squad in blocks last season, is here. I expect solid things from Prep this year, and to take home the district.
Class 5A-District 5
2016 winner: Ft. Lauderdale-Westminster Academy only dropped four games all season and was a perfect 5-0 on the road en route to a district crown. They posted a 25-point win vs. Palm Beach Gardens-Benjamin to take home the trophy.
Teams to watch: Davie-American Prep, Benjamin, Boca Raton-Yeshiva
Other teams in district: Fort Pierce-John Carroll, Boynton Beach-Somerset Canyons, Port St. Lucie-Somerset Prep
Predicted district champion: Can’t imagine another squad challenging Westminster for the district title—especially considering they were last year’s state champions. The Lions beat Providence in the state title game by 14. Their largest loss last year was by eight. Ehren Wallhoff has done an awesome job as head coach. Look out for sophomore Dudley Blackwell, he can be a true x-factor.
Class 5A-District 6
2016 winner: Weston-Sagemont mustered a 22-7 overall record and went undefeated in six district games to capture the crown. Sagemont nearly doubled Miami Country Day’s score in the title game, beating M.C.D. 67-34. Sagemont fell to eventual state champion Westminster Academy by two points in the Regional Final.
Teams to watch: North Miami Beach-Hillel Community, Miami Country Day
Other teams in district: Miami Shores-Doctors Charter, Hialeah Educational, Somerset Central Miramar
Predicted district champion: Sagemont is poised for another run. They went undefeated at home, last season—and they weren’t sneaking past opponents, either. Most of their 22 wins are HANDEDLY. It’ll be interesting to see if they can duplicate last year’s solid start, where they won seven of their first 10 matchups.
Class 5A-District 7
2016 winner: Miami-Archbishop Carroll went undefeated at home and in district play en route to a 42 point win over Miami-Florida Christian in the district championship. The Bulldogs only dropped one away game. Their other two losses were at neutral sites. The Dawgs opened the year with a 10-game winning streak.
Teams to watch: Miami-Florida Christian, Miami-SLAM Academy, Miami-Riviera Prep
Other teams in district: Miami-Archimedean, Miami-International Studies
Predicted district champions: With nearly all of Archbishop’s players leaving, along with the coach, SLAM now has a true shot at a district crown. They have a ton of talent that’s been playing on the EYBL circuit, they’re getting a good deal of college attention. Look out for them come February.
Class 5A-District 8
2016 winner: Palmetto Bay-Palmer Trinity won a gritty championship game against Palm Glades Prep, 55-50. During the season, the Falcons went 22-10 on the way to the trophy, 5-2 in district play. Although, they defended their nest well, winning 80% of their home games, last season.
Teams to watch: Marathon, Miami-Palm Glades Prep, Miami-Somerset Silver Palms
Other teams in district: Homestead-Everglades Prep, Homestead-Somerset Academy South
Predicted district champions: Marathon may turn a couple heads, this season. Palmer just lost six seniors to graduation. Marathon lost four, including their two leading scorers. Although, now-sophomore Steven Hernandez averaged 10 PPG, last year. Now-junior John Quals averaged 13 PPG & two steals a game in 2016-17, as well. They have last year’s second and third-best rebounders back in Dequian Youngblood & Jackson McDonald, respectively. Let’s see what they’re capable of.
Predicted state champion: Westminster Academy is poised for a repeat with all the talent they have returning. They have the experience. They have one of the most talent young guys I’ve seen in Blackwell. Westminster shouldn’t have too much opposition standing in front of them. Top to bottom, they’re still loaded.
Photo Credit: Sun Sentinel