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Posted On: 03/1/19 9:27 AM
Friday night wraps up the regional action with 20 games, all finals.
Class 5A-9A is still unsolved but that will be sorted out on Friday night and then everything will be slotted for Lakeland for later next week.
Here is a look at my five favorite regional finals in Class 5A-9A to watch.
Oak Ridge at Osceola
This will be the third straight year that Oak Ridge and Osceola square off in the region final. Last season, Oak Ridge beat Osceola by three, 57-54 while Osceola clipped Oak Ridge 63-60 the year prior. In both years, the winner took home the state title. The Pioneers (19-6) handled Osceola 71-51 in the lone meeting this season on Dec. 1. 2019 Oregon signee CJ Walker, 2019 Lipscomb signee Kaleb Coleman and 2019 guard Niven Glover are the “Big Three” for Oak Ridge. Osceola (23-7) has 2019 guard Isaiah Palermo, 2019 Bethune Cookman signee Joshua Marte and 2019 guard/forward Jaduhkiss Soto leading the way. This should be a loud and rowdy game.
Wharton at Windermere
Two well coached squads will face off here in Wharton and Windermere. Wharton (26-4) is looking to earn its first trip to Lakeland since 2013 while Windermere (26-4) is making history in just its second year of existence. Wharton has 2019 UCF signee Darin Green Jr., 2020 guard Carr Thiam, 2019 guard Jasper Floyd and 2019 forward Mackinley Theirse getting it done. For Windermere, 2019 FGCU signee Dakota Rivers, 2019 guard Josh Colon, 2021 guard Trey Moss and 2019 guard Dante Love are steady pieces. This will be a close game.
Dillard at Doral
This is one of the most intriguing matchups in the state with defending champion Doral (31-0) not only undefeated this season but winners of 52 straight games facing seven-time state champion Dillard (most recently 2017 and 2016). Doral has 2020 guard Devin Carter serving as a workhorse alongside steady 2019 guard Jojo Nunez. For Dillard (19-6), the Panthers have 2019 guard DeShawn Bartley, 2020 forward Jalen Haynes and 2019 forward Makerere Williams doing all that they can. Two seasoned programs will go head to head.
Lake Wales at Lakewood (at St. Petersburg High)
Both these squads won close region semifinals as Lake Wales held on at home against Jesuit 45-44 and Lakewood beat Gibbs 52-47 at St. Petersburg High. Even without a home gym this season, Lakewood (25-3) is looking to earn its first trip back to states since 2014. The Spartans are led by 2019 guard Jalen White, 2020 forward Jamille Reynolds, 2019 guard Jermaine Phillips and 2021 guard Oteman Delancey. As for Lake Wales (22-7), the Highlanders have 2021 guard Walter Clayton Jr., 2019 forward Raykwon Frazier and 2020 forward Isaiah Telot playing hard. There will be endless speed in this outing.
University School at Westminster Christian
Just one month ago on Jan. 30, Westminster Christian hung tough with University School. The Sharks pulled out the 49-47 home win on a buzzer beater by 2022 forward Taylor Hendricks. University School (24-4) have a dynamic duo in 2019 Duke signee Vernon Carey Jr. and 2020 top prospect Scottie Barnes. 2020 forward Jace Howard, 2020 guard Roger McFarlane and 2022 guard Jett Howard have been dangerous for the Sharks. For Westminster Christian (24-5), 2019 guard Marcus Montalvo and 2021 forward James Henderson will help the Warriors defend home court in the rematch. This will be fun.