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Posted On: 02/15/19 12:52 PM
District tournaments are in full swing in Florida this week.
Some championships wrapped up on Wednesday and Thursday with more finishing on Friday and Saturday.
Here is a look at 10 intriguing district title clashes to watch on Friday night.
Note: All games are at 7 p.m. ET.
-This is one of the best rivalries in the entire state. Choctaw and Crestview are mainstays in this 7A-2 district championship typically. The two teams played four times last year including in the region semifinals as Choctaw won in 2017-18 as well as 2016-17. Choctaw won the first meeting this season 70-54 at home while Crestview got them back just 14 days later with a 73-61 win on its home floor.
Players to watch: 2019 forward Diante Smith (Choctaw/TCU signee), 2019 guard Joshua Williams (Choctaw), 2020 guard CJ Matthews (Choctaw), 2019 guard Marcus Purcell (Crestview), 2019 guard Jaden Voisin (Crestview), 2019 guard Devin Voisin (Crestview).
-Things heated up a season ago with East Lake nearly knocking off a St. Pete team that featured seniors Serrel Smith (Maryland) and Tai Strickland (Wisconsin) in a 93-90 loss in the district semifinals. The Green Devils advanced to the state semifinals before losing to eventual champion Blanche Ely. Falling by a combined 30 points in two regular season meetings this season to St. Pete, East Lake avenged its loss in the PCAC Championship Game on Saturday night with a 61-39 win. The two Pinellas County rivals will go head to head in a big district clash on Friday night at Countryside. It should be a rowdy one.
Players to watch: 2019 guard Terell Strickland (St. Pete), 2019 forward Alfonso Franklin (St. Pete), 2020 guard Deondre Earley (St. Pete), 2020 guard Dionte Blanch (East Lake), 2021 guard Dean Gabrelcik (East Lake), 2020 guard Jordan Hilmon (East Lake).
-These two teams really don’t like one another. The Villages split the regular season series, losing at home 65-62 before beating Trinity Catholic 80-67 on Jan. 11 in front of a sold out crowd. Trinity Catholic took down The Villages in last year’s district final before earning a spot in the state final, eventually losing to champion University. It was The Villages the year prior who beat Trinity Catholic in the district final before the Buffalo made a state semifinal appearance.
Players to watch: 2019 guard Tre Mann (The Villages/UF signee), 2019 forward Brandon Farmer (The Villages), 2019 guard Terry Ivery (The Villages), 2019 guard Montez Leath (Trinity Catholic), 2021 guard Jarveil Gainey (Trinity Catholic), 2019 guard Dominic Pugh (Trinity Catholic).
-Last year it was Berkeley Prep that won both regular season meetings but lost to Tampa Catholic in the district final. This year, Tampa Catholic has won both regular season meetings (61-38 and 72-63). Could we see a reversal with Berkeley Prep going on the road and taking home the district crown? We will see how it plays out. Tampa Catholic has won four straight district finals over Berkeley Prep.
Players to watch: 2020 guard Kobe Knox (Tampa Catholic), 2020 forward Johni Broome (Tampa Catholic), 2020 guard Marcellus Crutchfield (Tampa Catholic), 2019 forward Chase Barrs (Berkeley Prep), 2020 guard Kegan Karnes (Berkeley Prep), 2020 guard Ronnie Williams (Berkeley Prep)
-On Jan. 22, Lehigh won at home over Fort Myers 64-59. The Lightning captured the district title over Fort Myers in each of the last two seasons while the Green Wave won three years ago. After Fort Myers won in overtime against Dunbar on Wednesday night, 65-64 you have to think this group has a ton of confidence with Lehigh coming into its gym.
Players to watch: 2021 guard Javian McCollum (Fort Myers), 2019 forward Michael Roberts (Fort Myers), 2020 guard Quinton Desamours (Lehigh), 2019 guard Delshawn Green (Lehigh).
-On Jan. 18, host Providence beat University Christian 55-49. The Stallions have won 13 of 14 in the new year and are a regular contender in the Class 4A state tournament. Expect this to be a real battle for Providence, but the winner should be able to make a nice run in regionals.
Players to watch: 2019 guard Ahren Freeman (Providence/New Orleans signee), 2021 forward James Lee Repass (Providence), 2019 forward Lenzy Hancock (University Christian), 2019 guard G’shan Aldridge (University Christian).
-Freedom has been one of the biggest surprises in the Tampa Bay area this season with a 24-2 overall record. The Patriots’ two losses came to Wharton and Plant. Freedom has kept opponents to just under 47 PPG and in fact beat first place Wharton 51-49 on Jan. 11. The Wildcats won the district title last season over Plant before making it to the region semifinal round.
Players to watch: 2019 guard Darin Green Jr. (Wharton/UCF signee), 2019 guard Jasper Floyd (Wharton), 2020 guard Carr Thiam (Wharton), 2019 guard Kevin Rodriguez (Freedom), 2019 guard Xavier Betancourt (Freedom), 2019 guard Nick Butler (Freedom).
-Bartow and Lakeland split the regular season series. Last year, Bartow knocked Lakeland out of the playoffs in the district semifinals before losing to Winter Haven in the district final, a team that made a state semifinal appearance. The whole town should be in full force for this Bartow-Lakeland 3.0 tilt.
Players to watch: 2019 forward Luke Anderson (Lakeland), 2019 guard AJ Gant (Lakeland), 2019 guard Jordan Daughtry (Bartow), 2020 forward Joshua Simons (Bartow).
-Rockledge won both regular season meetings this year and the previous season with senior guard Elijah Weaver (USC) at the forefront. The Terriers lost by only eight points at home in the first matchup before falling 72-57 at Rockledge on Jan. 25. This should be a chippy one.
Players to watch: 2019 guard DJ Richardson (Rockledge), 2021 guard Demetrius Robinson (Rockledge), 2019 forward Ramsey Robinson (Rockledge), 2020 guard Blake Reid (Titusville), 2020 forward Davonte Dublin (Titusville), 2019 forward Jalen Means (Titusville).
-On Jan. 22, Santa Fe Catholic went to Oviedo Master’s and picked up a substantial 71-69 win. A year ago, Master’s beat Santa Fe Catholic twice which included the district championship 87-84. These two teams always play it close. Expect the same thing on Friday night in the district final rematch.
Players to watch: 2020 guard Joe Stubbs (Santa Fe Catholic), 2020 guard Javon Bell (Santa Fe Catholic), 2020 guard Ray Davis (Santa Fe Catholic), 2019 guard Blaize Darling (Master’s), 2020 guard Corey Sawyer Jr. (Master’s)