Posted On: 01/31/18 8:34 AM

On a chilly Tuesday night, we had a treat in a warm and toasty gym. Plant vs Plant City was a possible playoff matchup I couldn’t wait to see. I had tons of questions but five that really stuck in my mind: is either team really a threat to get deep into the playoffs? Which style of offense will control the game? Which players will shine? Will defense step up for either side? Is the playoff-like atmosphere too much for the players?

The  game started off as if each team wanted to feel its way into it. Plant City had a difficult time knocking down open shots in the first period while Plant’s Logan Morrissey lit it up from deep knocking down five to start the game. As the game continued, the two teams went back and fourth. In the fourth period as the game came to a close Plant City began putting Plant on the line to try to get over the hump but Plant knocked down free throws to close the game out.

What we’ve learned:

Is either team a threat to go deep into the playoffs?

Plant and Plant City both have what it takes to get into the regionals and make some noise. Both teams have strong points that benefit them and hurt others. For Plant, they execute their system well. The offense uses a  ton of screens and off the ball action to get shooters open and the rebound well on both ends. For Plant City, this game was about missed shots and missed opportunities but the Raiders have stellar defense and this is the only game they have been outrebounded all season. The Raiders have a lot of size which creates mismatches across the board and they have what could be Hillsborough County’s best closer in Matt Simpson.

Which style of offense will control the game?

The Panthers controlled the game throughout. As stated before, Morrissey came out hot and put on a show in the first half with 20 points, six from three-point land. Plant featured an offense that had lots of screens and backdoor cuts which they used to get shooters open and they knocked down outside shots. The Raiders featured a bunch of on ball screens and off the ball action and cuts but guys had trouble finishing.

Which players will shine?

Other than Morrissey for Plant, it was simply a team effort. Ronald Boyd ended up with 20 points by going 8 for 13 at the free throw line in the second half. Plant City sputtered throughout the night but there was a late surge by Matt Simpson who finished with 18 points and Triston Evans who finished with 16 points.

Will defense step up for either side?

Both teams played various defenses. I saw full court pressure, 3-2, 2-3 and half court man between the two. This game was methodical, for the most part and each team ran a set offense and executed it well. In my opinion, there was some good defense by both sides that forced changes in approach. Defensive principles were evident by both sides, Plant made more plays to combat Plant City’s defense.

Is the playoff like atmosphere too much for the players?

The gym was packed last night. Fans cheered loudly throughout the game on every play. Being that Plant City was home, one would think that they’d feed off it and use it towards a surge but that never happened. Plant never seemed bothered by the crowd. Plant fans were out and showing full support also.

This matchup could be a preview of thing to come in the 8A class playoffs because the both are 8A teams. With only a week and a half left in the season before district play starts, Plant and Plant City are both the top seeds in the respective districts.