Class 8A Season Preview: Part 2

High School
Florida

Posted On: 11/23/18 5:24 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

Class 5A Preview: Part 1Part 2

Class 6A Preview: Part 1Part 2

Class 7A Preview: Part 1, Part 2

Class 8A Preview: Part 1

Here is a look at Class 8A and a preview of districts 9-16.

Class 8A-District 9

2017-18 winner: Plant City outlasted Tampa Bay Tech 56-54 in the district championship. However, the Raiders lost in the region quarterfinal to St. Pete while Tampa Bay Tech beat Countryside before falling to St. Pete in the region semifinal.

Teams to watch: Plant City, Tampa Bay Tech, Strawberry Crest

Other teams in the district: Durant, Lennard, East Bay, Bloomingdale

Predicted district champion: Plant City

-The Raiders have 2019 guard/forward Justyn King (Bethune Cookman signee), who averaged 13.9 PPG and 2019 guard Jadyn Strawder (8.0 PPG). The pair will be dangerous together for a sound Plant City squad. Tampa Bay Tech should play a part in this discussion with 2019 trio David Cexil, Gavin Antoine and JaMarcus Robertson. Strawberry Crest features 2021 guard CJ Crews and 2019 guards Romire Burke and Jalen Brown.

Written by Jake Perper

CLASS 8A-District 10

2017-18 winner:  Countryside took home the district with a scrappy win over St. Pete. But it was the Green Devils that advanced farther in the playoffs, losing to Blanche Ely in the state semifinal.

Teams to watch: St. Pete, East Lake, Countryside, Seminole

Other teams in the district: Palm Harbor, Pinellas Park

Predicted district champion: East Lake

-St. Pete graduated 2018 guard duo Serrel Smith (Maryland) and Tai Strickland (Wisconsin) but return 2019 guard Terell Strickland and 2020 guard Deondre Earley while adding 2019 transfers Alfonso Franklin and Akhe McMichael. East Lake nearly upset the Green Devils in the district semifinals in a 93-90 overtime loss. The Eagles will feature 2020 guard Dionte Blanch (Louisiana Tech offer), 2019 guard Jordan Hilmon and 2021 guard Dean Gabrelcik. East Lake should hold off the guard new look St. Pete squad.

Written by Jake Perper

CLASS 8A-District 11

2017-18 winner: Lakewood Ranch ran past Venice in the district championship before losing to Riverdale with a slew of injuries in the region quarterfinal. The Mustangs finished 24-5 on the season.

Teams to watch: Lakewood Ranch, Braden River, Manatee, Palmetto

Other teams in the district: Sarasota, Venice, Palmetto

Predicted district champion: Lakewood Ranch

-This is Lakewood Ranch’s district to lose. The Mustangs have been one of the steadiest programs in the entire state over the past few seasons. 2020 guard Christian Shaneyfelt (Stetson, UNF, Canisius offers), 2020 guard Keon Buckley and 2019 forward Joshua Young on its side. 2020 forward Luke Lecroy is also a player to monitor.

Written by Jake Perper

CLASS 8A-District 12

2017-18 winner: North Port and Riverdale had a wild rivalry this past season. In the fourth meeting of the season, Riverdale snuck past North Port on the road in a 56-55 win in the region semifinal. The Raiders lost in the district title game to the same Bobcats team, 58-50.

Teams to watch: North Port, Gulf Coast, Riverdale

Predicted district champion: Riverdale

-The top four scorers from Gulf Coast all graduated. Gulf Coast has some talented 2019 athletes in guard Cardin Joubert and forward Klajd Kiri. Riverdale has the most athletes, however with 2019 guard Keyshawn Rowe, 2021 forward Tyrone Baker and 2019 guard/forward Nelson Smith. Even with the transfer of 2020 guard Jadrian Tracey to Oldmsar Christian, I think the Raiders will overcome it and win this district.

Written by Jake Perper

Class 8A-District 13

2017-18 winner: Dwyer slipped past Forest Hill, 61-60, in the district championship. The Panthers would fall to Blanche Ely in the regionals.

Teams to watch: Dwyer, Forest Hill, Royal Palm Beach, Palm Beach Lakes

Other teams in the district: Boynton Beach, Olympic Heights, West Boca

Predicted district champion: Dwyer

– Giving Dwyer the nod here in a highly competitive district. Seniors Brandon Williams (6-3) and Mikey Ingraham (6-0) make the Panthers go. Dwyer went 26-2 a year ago, falling only to 5A state champs University School and 8A state champion Ely.

Written by Pat Lammer

Class 8A-District 14

2017-18 winner: Pompano Beach Blanche Ely whipped St. Thomas Aquinas, 67-30, for the district crown. Took out Forest Hill, Dwyer and McArthur in regionals on the way to a state title.

Teams to watch: Blanche Ely, St. Thomas Aquinas

Other teams in the district: Plantation, Fort Lauderdale

Predicted district champion: Blanche Ely

– Blanche Ely (24-8) whipped St. Pete High by 15 in the state semis, before crushing Creekside by 23 for the 8A title. Six-foot-5 senior Joshua Scott, a captain last year, returns for Ely and the Tigers added 6-5 transfer Malachi Hazelton — a top-15 prospect in the 2020 class in Massachusetts. St. Thomas returns many of its top weapons, including 6-3 G Lenny Ricca and 6-9 big Shane Hunter.

Written by Pat Lammer

Class 8A-District 15

2017-18 winner: McArthur defeated Cooper City, 58-52, for the district title en route to making the regional finals. The Mustangs fell at Blanche Ely, 86-65, for the right to go to state.

Teams to watch: McArthur, Cooper City, South Broward

Other teams in the district: Nova, Hollywood Hills

Predicted district champion: McArthur

– McArthur is gunning for its sixth district crown in the past seven seasons. The Mustangs are led by versatile 6-4 guard Rahmel Davis. Cooper City guard Dallas Graziani was first-team All-County as a sophomore and has an offer from Missouri Western. Cooper City has an impressive freshman in Elijah Wyche.

Written by Pat Lammer

Class 8A-District 16

2017-18 winner: Mater Academy lost only two games once the calendar hit 2018. Lost to SLAM and then McArthur ended its season, 62-58, in the regionals.

Teams to watch: Mater Academy, Hialeah-Miami Lakes, Goleman

Other teams in the district: Mourning, Reagan, Westland Hialeah

Predicted district champion: Mater Academy

– “[Mater Academy], they’ll be champs until they’re beaten,” said Miami Goleman coach Phillip Jackson. Isaiah Josue leads the way for Mater Academy. Goleman returns steals leader and second-leading scorer senior Randy Almonte.

Written by Pat Lammer

Predicted state champion

-Blanche Ely is in the mix to win its fourth state title in five years. However, I’m going with a team in the central part of the state in Edgewater. Michael Eads is growing up quickly and the Eagles are already proving they can prove with the top teams, including SIAA’s West Oaks in the preseason. Don’t be shocked to see Edgewater pull it all together and earn a state title. — Jake Perper

-8A state champion prediction: Dwyer and Orlando Edgewater will be in the mix. Blanche Ely coach Melvin Randall has won a state-best eight state championships (6 at Ely, 2 at Deerfield Beach). The Tigers get Randall No. 9. — Pat Lammer

Photo credit: Miami Herald