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Posted On: 02/19/19 3:28 PM
The best part of the high school basketball season is upon us, the playoff regional round.
With all nine classes playing regional games (1A-4A – region semifinals, 5A-9A – region quarterfinals) there will be 112 matchups on Thursday night (all at 7 p.m. ET).
Here is a look at the first part of 10 of my favorite games to watch.
Miramar at North Miami
Down in Miami, two very talented teams will square off in the opening round of regionals. Miramar fended off Pembroke Pines Charter 95-91 in a heck of a district title game while North Miami fell to Miami 69-60. Miramar is led by 2020 guard Brent Davis, 2021 guard Khamaury McMillan and 2022 forward Deshawn Jean-Charles. North Miami has a fun duo in 2019 guard Richard Charles and 2020 guard Carlos Hart. This should be a hard nosed and fast game.
Lakeland at Wharton
Wharton won its district championship by 30 points over Freedom while Lakeland finished as the district runner-up with a 75-66 loss to Bartow. This is an intriguing game to me simply with two legitimate Division I signees squaring off in 2019 Lakeland guard/forward Luke Anderson (Iowa State) and 2019 Wharton guard Darin Green Jr. (UCF). It will be tough to knock of Wharton at home, where the Wildcats are 9-1 this season.
Palm Beach Lakes at Blanche Ely
Undefeated at home this season (8-0), Blanche Ely has been one of the most dominant teams in FHSAA play with five state title over the last seven years. The Tigers clipped Ft. Lauderdale 69-65 to take the district. Led by 2019 forward Joshua Scott, 2020 forward Aderes Staton-McCray and 2020 guard Lamont Evans, Blanche Ely looks different but still executes the same way. Palm Beach Lakes is 9-0 on the road behind 2020 forward Giancarlo Rosado and 2019 guard Sheldon Edwards.
St. Petersburg at Tampa Bay Tech
In two of the last three seasons, St. Petersburg has beaten Tampa Bay Tech in the regional tournament. Last year, it was a region semifinal matchup that the Green Devils, the two seasons prior it was in the region quarterfinal. For a fourth straight year, we will see these two schools battle it out. Undefeated until Jan. 30, St. Pete has gone 3-4 since then, losing the district title to East Lake. 2019 guard Terell Strickland and 2020 guard Deondre Earley lead this group. For Tampa Bay Tech, the Titans won by nine over Plant City to win the district. 2019 trio, David Cexil, Jamarcus Robertson and Gavin Antoine are at the forefront.
Eustis at Rockledge
In Class 6A-District 13, Bishop Moore and Leesburg had been so impressive over the past few seasons, but it was Poinciana that captured the district with a 56-54 win over Eustis. The Panthers are a dangerous team with 2020 guard Bradley Douglas and 2019 duo Lothario Adkins and Jermarious Maple. As for Rockledge, the Raiders beat Titusville 54-42 to win their district. 2019 guard DJ Richardson, 2019 forward Stephen Merritt and 2021 guard Demetrius Robinson lead this group.
Booker at Jesuit
This will be the third straight season that Booker and Jesuit will square off. The Tornadoes won in the region semifinal before making a state semifinal run. In 2016-17, Booker beat Jesuit in the region quarterfinal. Back in the region quarterfinal, Booker lost to Lake Wales 46-44 in the district championship and is certainly upset. 2019 guards Johnnie Williams and Jordan Clark are fun to watch. As for Jesuit, the Tigers beat Robinson and have 2019 forwards Jack Cooper and Andrew Dansoh featured.
Trinity Catholic at Lake Highland Prep
A young Lake Highland Prep ended as district champs with an 81-67 win over First Academy while Trinity Catholic fell to rival The Villages. This is an interesting matchup with Trinity Catholic’s speed behind 2019 guards Montez Leath and Dominic Pugh and rising talent 2021 guard Jarveil Gainey. Lake Highland Prep is led by 2019 guard/forward Zack Grodzki, 2021 forward Gabriel Ferguson, 2020 guard Victor Brown Jr. and 2022 guard Jared Berry (younger brother of Joel Berry).
Coral Springs at Oxbridge
Oxbridge (24-0) remains unbeaten behind consistent play from four 2019 starters, guard AJ Cajuste, forward Donte Wilcox (FIU signee), guard Klein Alexandre and guard Troy Joseph. The ThunderWolves beat Cardinal Newman 55-49 to capture the district crown. Coral Springs is no slouch with 2020 trio Ivan Reynolds, Ian Tajalli and Justin Allen at the forefront. Losing at St. Andrew’s 67-58, you can bet the Panthers will be playing with chips on their shoulders.
Andrew Jackson at Bradford
Both of the teams had battles in their respective district championships. Bradford held off Fort White 73-70 while Andrew Jackson fell 42-41 to Bolles. For Bradford, 2020 guard Torey Buie and 2020 guard Jalen Williams are the pacesetters for the entire squad. As for Andrew Jackson, 2019 pair Joshua Knox and David Daniels get it going for the Tigers.
Miami Christian at Grandview Prep
These are two Class 2A powerhouses going at it. Miami Christian has won back to back state titles and is fresh off a district final loss to Schoolhouse Prep. Grandview Prep won the district title over Atlantic Christian and continues to win district championships year after year. Miami Christian is much different looking than a year ago, but the Victors play hard and fast behind 2019 guards Diego Rivera and Algenis Quintana. Grandview Prep has 2019 guard Cam Miller in charge of the push.