Posted On: 03/5/18 6:16 PM
The FHSAA state tournament begins on Monday at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.
1A, 2A and 3A will play its semifinals, totaling six games on Monday to start things up. Friday will be another semifinal day with 7A, 8A and 9A playing two games apiece. The finals will be held on Saturday.
Here are the state predictions for both 7A, 8A and 9A.
Semifinal – West Orange vs. Oak Ridge (6 p.m., Friday)
—Back in the state tournament for the first time since 2005, West Orange is led by senior Troy commit KJ Simon, junior Darrell Harding and senior Zion Collins. The Warriors (17-13) beat Seminole 96-81 to advance. Now, they’ll square off against an Orlando foe in Oak Ridge.
—Oak Ridge is in the state tournament for the first time in six years. The transfer of senior LSU commit Emmitt Williams paired with senior Texas A&M Antwaan Jones, senior guard Marcus Taylor and junior forward Niven Glover. The Pioneers (28-4) snuck past defending champion Osceola 57-54 in the regional final on Friday.
Game prediction: Oak Ridge wins
Semifinal – Miramar vs. Wellington (8 p.m., Friday)
—After beating South Miami 54-48, Miramar will make just its second appearance in the state tournament in program history. The last trip came in 2011. The Patriots (27-3) are led by a trio of seniors Damian Miller, Immanuel Crump and Jamir Moore.
—Wellington comes into the state tournament as the lone undefeated team left. The Wolves (30-0) took down Deerfield Beach 55-41 to punch its ticket to their third state tournament over the past four years. Wellington has earned sound play from seniors Bryan Williams, Linton Brown and Nico Toledo.
Game prediction: Wellington wins
State champion prediction: Oak Ridge wins
Semifinal– Creekside vs. Winter Haven (2 p.m., Friday)
—Creekside will be making its debut in the state tournament. The Knights (26-4) fought the whole way to beat Lincoln 51-47 and advance to Lakeland. Despite losing senior forward Caleb Townsend to injury in the preseason, Creekside patched things together with seniors J’Michael Plummer, DJ Dumas and Noah Lippy.
—Keyshawn Bryant transferred back to Winter Haven to wrap up his high school career and boy did that help the Blue Devils (23-9) this season. Bryant, along with senior UNF commit Dorian James and senior guard Bryson Birdsong, Winter Haven loves to push the floor. The Blue Devils beat Edgewater 71-68 to advance.
Game prediction: Creekside wins
Semifinal – St. Pete vs. Blanche Ely (4 p.m., Friday)
—After losing its district final to Countryside, St. Pete has rattled off wins over Plant City, Tampa Bay Tech, and Riverdale to get into the state tournament. St. Pete’s last state trip to Lakeland ended in the Green Devils losing to Blanche Ely. The rematch is on in the semifinal round with senior Ole Miss commit Serrel Smith, senior Tai Strickland and a cast of athletes.
—Blanche Ely has been a regular in the state tournament winning four titles over the last six years. The Tigers return to Lakeland after cruising past McArthur 89-65 in the regional final. Seniors Michael Forrest and Anthony Byrd and junior Joshua Scott have meant everything for Blanche Ely (22-8) who score in bunches.
Game prediction: Blanche Ely wins
State champion prediction: Blanche Ely wins
Semifinal– Hillsborough vs. Choctaw (10 a.m., Friday)
—It has been 22 years since Hillsborough last appeared in the state tournament. The Terriers (26-5) beat Mainland 53-49 behind strong performances from seniors Myles Cowart, Ken Montgomery and Christian De Leon and junior Warren McLymont.
—Choctaw is in the state tourney for the first time since 2002 after getting past Gainesville 54-52. Senior Aron Scott and juniors Diante Smith and Joshua Williams have been huge for the Indians (26-2). This is a dynamic bunch.
Game prediction: Choctaw wins
Semifinal – Cape Coral vs. Doral (12 p.m., Friday)
—This will be a game between two schools that are both appearing in the state tournament for the first time. Doral (30-2) beat Carol City, Norland and Northeast on the way to clinching a spot to Lakeland. Those are three strong programs in Miami. Behind senior Miguel Ayesa and junior Jonathan Nunez, the Firebirds beat Northeast on Saturday night 56-50 to advance.
—Cape Coral turned its luck around this season after missing the playoffs altogether. The Seahawks (24-7) used a 9-0 run to beat yearly state contender Lehigh, 52-48 to move into the state semifinal. Seniors Harwin Francois, Bryan Markovich, Jonathan Moreno and James Gibson have been instrumental to the team’s success.
Game prediction: Doral wins
State champion prediction: Doral wins