Class 5A Season Preview: Part 1

High School
Florida

Posted On: 11/19/18 3:11 PM

Preseason classics are underway and the regular season officially begins on November 26.

We will bring you previews on all nine classes in the state of Florida and the independent conferences.

ICYMI: 

The SIAA Preview

Class 1A Preview

Class 2A Preview

Class 3A Preview

Class 4A Preview

Here is a look at Class 5A and a preview of districts 1-8.

2017-18 state champion: University

2017-18 state runner-up: Trinity Catholic

Class 5A-District 1 

2017-18 winner: Pensacola Catholic beat West Florida 59-46 in the district championship game. Pen. Cath. would end up advancing to the state semis where they eventually fell to Trinity Catholic, 55-54. West Florida fell to Gadsden County one game later in the regional quarterfinals.

Teams to watch: Pensacola Catholic, Walton, West Florida

Other teams in the district: North Bay Haven, South Walton

Predicted district champion: Pensacola Catholic

– Hard to picture a team who went 28-2 the season prior, NOT being in a position to win a district crown the very next year. Though the Crusaders graduated five seniors this past Spring, two of the four leading scorers are back for their senior campaign in Nitrell Bledsoe (9.9 PPG) & Dexter McKenzie (14.7 PPG). According to Maxpreps.com, Bledsoe led the team in rebounding last season averaging 5.3 a game, while McKenzie took command in the steals category—averaging 3.1 swipes per game.

Written by Jerome Reed

Class 5A-District 2

2017-18 winner: Gadsden County narrowly edged Marianna 55-53 in the district championship game. While Marianna would fall to Pensacola Catholic days later in the regional quarters, Gadsden managed a 23-point win over West Florida to advance to the regional semis, falling to Pen. Catholic by just three points.

Teams to watch: Marianna, Florida High, Gadsden County

Other teams in the district: Taylor County

Predicted district champion: Marianna

– Going into the district title game, Marianna had won four of their previous five, including a 78-73 district semis win over FSU High. They were 8-2 at home, 7-3 on the road. But when tournament play came, just 2-5. I would imagine this is still in their minds, and for a team that went 17-10 last year, they definitely still have the tools to pull off a district title win this time around. When a trophy is on the line, look for Marianna to perform at a higher level in 2018-19.

Written by Jerome Reed

Class 5A-District 3

2017 winner: Raines went 20-8 on the year and captured a district crown along the way, defeating Bolles 62-52. Although, Bolles would end up getting their revenge. Raines fell in the regional semifinals to Bolles, 68-55.

Teams to watch: Bolles, Andrew Jackson, Raines

Other teams in the district: Baldwin, Episcopal, Fernandina Beach, West Nassau

Predicted district champion: Bolles

– After seeing Bolles beat Bradford at their place in the regional quarterfinals, one could notice a certain type of tenacity within this team. They communicated well, visibly picked each other up after bad plays, were well-coached, and had a genuine camaraderie about them. One of their more dynamic players, guard Dave Crouch, is back for his senior stint. Look for him to lead-by-example on the floor this year, en route to a district trophy.

Written by Jerome Reed

Class 5A-District 4

2017-18 winner: Bradford pulled out a gutsy 69-63 win over Newberry to capture the district crown, last year. The Tornadoes hosted a regional quarterfinal home game vs. Bolles days later, but fell to the Bulldogs by 10. Newberry lost by 40 to Raines in the same round.

Teams to watch: Keystone Heights, Bradford, Interlachen

Other teams in the district: Fort White, Newberry

Predicted district champion: Interlachen

– Interlachen had the best record in the district at 21-6, but got caught by surprise after Newberry beat them by four in the district semis. Team-leading scorer (17 PPG) & rebounder (10 RPG) Michael Reed is back for his senior year. Alex Dubois, who averaged 13 PPG himself last year, is also back for his senior campaign. They have a lot of returning pieces that help with team chemistry. Don’t be surprised to see them avenge that early exit, and make a run to the district championship.

Written by Jerome Reed

Class 5A-District 5

2017-18 winner: Trinity Catholic upset The Villages in the district title game 61-49, propelling all the way into the state final before losing to a loaded University team 80-40 in Lakeland.

Teams to watch: Villages, Trinity Catholic, South Sumter

Other teams in the district: Mount Dora, Umatilla

Predicted district champion: The Villages

-The Villages have plenty to shake off against a smart and athletic Trinity Catholic group. With UF commit Tre Mann leading the charge alongside 2019 guard Terry Ivery, 2019 forward Peyton Williams and 2020 guard Bryan Jackson. 2021 big man Jarred Hall and 2021 guard Nasir Mann are going to see the floor plenty. Trinity Catholic won’t go down without a fight with its top four scorers returning (2019 guards Montez Leath, Dominic Pugh and Michael Brooks and 2021 guard Jarveil Gainey). Don’t forget the transfer of 2020 big man Kylor Rodmon from Orlando Christian Prep.

Written by Jake Perper

Class 5A-District 6

2017-18 winner: Lake Highland Prep took the district crown with a 54-43 victory over Windermere Prep.  The Highlanders (22-7) lost in the region semifinal to Trinity Catholic.

Teams to watch: Lake Highland Prep, Windermere Prep, Jones

Other teams in the district: First Academy, Trinity Prep, Crooms

Predicted district champion: Lake Highland Prep

-Lake Highland Prep may have graduated a deep group of seniors, but the Highlanders have a nice upperclassmen unit in place. 2019 forward Zachary Grodzki is an underrated talent along with 2020 guard Victor Brown, 2019 guard Christian Stanfield and 2021 forward Gabriel Ferguson. 2022 guard Elijah Quinones is a breakout candidate as well. Windermere Prep is a young team in the district while Jones features 2019 guard Jelani Moreno and 2021 forward Roddrick Henry.

Written by Jake Perper

Class 5A-District 7

2017-18 winner: Melbourne Central Catholic beat Holy Trinity Episcopal for the second straight year, this time 74 – 58. The Hustlers (26-4) fell to Trinity Catholic in the region final.

Teams to watch: Holy Trinity Episcopal, Melbourne Central Catholic, Astronaut

Other teams in the district: Cocoa, West Shore, Cocoa Beach, Edgewood

Predicted district champion: Astronaut

-With Melbourne Central Catholic graduating 10 seniors, 2019 forward Joel Rogers will be tasked to have a standout season. Holy Trinity will have 2019 Illinois football commit Seth Coleman, 2019 guard Preston Milo and 2019 Embry Riddle commit Dru Nickson on its side. I think Astronaut will pull away with this district behind 2020 guard/forward Kario Oquendo, 2021 guard Jace Carter and 2020 guard Louis Arnold III.

Written by Jake Perper

Class 5A-District 8

2017-18 winner: McKeel beat Avon Park 45-33 in the district final before losing to Holy Trinity in the region quarterfinal round. The Wildcats finished 19-5 on the season.

Teams to watch: McKeel, Avon Park, Tenoroc

Other teams in the district: Lake Placid, Mulberry

Predicted district champion: McKeel

-McKeel, Avon Park and Tenoroc are all very even teams. McKeel has the experience as of late so that’s how the Wildcats earned the nod. McKeel features a trio of 2019 starters Richard Walters, Nathan Abram and Walter Kemp. Avon Park has 2021 guard Malcolm Dewberry to watch while Tenoroc will rally behind 2020 forward De’Arian Jones.

Written by Jake Perper

A predicted state champion will be announced in Part 2

Photo credit: Ocala.com