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Boys Basketball

Time to vote: Boys basketball player of the week

Bob Putnam

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Here are the nominees for the boys basketball player of the week. Voting lasts through Wednesday. 

G Donte Forrester-Jhagroo, Sr., Tampa SLAM: Named MVP of the SSAC AAA final after scoring 24 points, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, to beat City of Life Christian.

G Eric Howard, Sr., Fivay: Averaged 18 points, five assists and four steals in wins over IMG Academy White, River Ridge and Cypress Creek. 

F Trae Martin, Sr., Brooks DeBartolo: Averaged 12 points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots in wins over Tampa Prep and Berkeley Prep this past week. 

G Mikey Shane, Sr., East Lake: Led the Eagles in scoring with 29 points, including a Wally Keller record nine 3-pointers, in a win over Vero Beach.

G Javohn Thomas, Jr., Sickles: Led the Gryphons with 32 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and four steals in a win over Hillsborough.  

F/G Johnny Willingham, Jr., Lakeside Christian: Averaged 35 points in the past three games, all during a four-day span. 

Pick the boys basketball player of the week
Pick the boys basketball player of the week
Pick the boys basketball player of the week

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Boys Basketball

Boys basketball: Class 3A state semifinal preview

Bob Putnam

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Boys basketball state semifinals

All games at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.  Admission is $10 in advance, $13 on the day of the event. Parking is $10.

Class 3A

Bishop McLaughlin (21-6) vs. Jacksonville Andrew Jackson (19-6), 2

How they got here: Bishop McLaughlin d. Calvary Christian 62-48, d. Carrollwood Day 84-66, d. Fort Myers Canterbury 47-42. Andrew Jackson d. Florida State University 82-65, d. Jacksonville Bishop Snyder 58-37, d. Winter Park Trinity Prep 69-47. 

Top players: Bishop McLaughlin: G Emanuel Sharp, Jr. (23.6 points, 4.2 assists, 1.8 steals per game); F/G Dillon Mitchell, Jr.(18.0 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.0 blocks per game); F/G Anthony Davis Jr., Jr. (12.1 points, 4.3 rebounds per game). Andrew Jackson: F/G Bryce Turner, Sr. (9.1 points, 5.6 rebounds per game); C Stephon Payne, Jr. (6.6 points, 6.0 rebounds per game); F Davin Daniels, Sr. (6.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists per game). 

Outlook: Bishop McLaughlin, which won two games last season, made its playoff debut last with its first state semifinal appearance. The Hurricanes did while playing all three regional games on the road. Emanuel Sharp, the Class 5A state player of the year at Blake last season, arrived this year and has been the go-to guy-averaging a team-high 23.6 points per game. Dillon Mitchell, a four-star recruit, came from Sickles and has been an inside force for Bishop McLaughlin. The advantage in experience goes to Andrew Jackson, which is making its third straight state semifinal appearance. The Tigers are motivated, especially after losing in the state title game the past two seasons. It is a veteran team with 10 returning players from last year’s squad. 

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Boys Basketball

The PTP boys basketball players of the week

Bob Putnam

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The fans’ pick

G Juan Arias, Sr., Brandon Academy

Brandon Academy’s nascent boys basketball program has made significant strides. After going winless in an abbreviated varsity schedule during the 2017-18 season, the Scorpions steadily improved, culminating with their first playoff appearance this year. 

Juan Arias was the catalyst for that postseason push. The veteran averaged 11.6 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Last month, he set the school record for points in a game with 36. 

Two weeks ago, he had 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead Brandon Academy to its first playoff win against Academy at the Lakes. 

Fans were impressed. Arias received more than 46 percent of the vote (703) to beat out Wiregrass Ranch’s Joshua Wilson, who had 35 percent (503 votes).

The PTP picks

G Joshua Martin, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch: Led the Bulls with 29 points in a win over St. Petersburg, the first playoff victory for Wiregrass Ranch in a decade. 

F Joe Pesansky, Sr., Jesuit: The two-sport star dominated down low, finishing with 29 points and seven rebounds to lead the Tigers’ impressive comeback against Clearwater.

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Boys Basketball

Boys basketball region finals preview

Bob Putnam

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The winners move on to next week’s state semifinals at Lakeland’s RP Funding Center.

Class 6A

Punta Gorda Charlotte (20-9) at East Lake (26-1), 7

This is a rematch from last season’s region semifinal game the Eagles won by 32 points en route to their first-ever state semifinal appearance. A win would not only get East Lake back into the final four but also set the school record for most victories in a season with 27. The makeup of this team is different with the Eagles no longer able to rely on the playmaking ability of Dionte Bostick, the Class 6A player of the year last season who is now a freshman starter at Murray State. East Lake is more balanced with three senior guards — Anthony Bittar, Dean Gabrelcik and Mikey Shane — all averaging 16 points per game. After going through a three-game losing streak last month, the Tarpons have rebounded to win seven of their last nine games to reach the third round of the playoffs. Charlotte’s top player is Tre Carroll, a 6-foot-7 forward who has already committed to Florida Atlantic and is averaging a team-best 21.7 points per game. 

Class 5A

Jesuit (24-4) at Naples (25-4), 7

After going through contact tracing that left the varsity starters sidelined in the district semifinals and leaving them rusty once they returned for the district final, the Tigers have been able to regroup in the postseason. Jesuit is playing its best basketball when it matters most, upsetting Clearwater in the region quarterfinals, then exacting revenge against district champs Blake in the region semifinal. Two seniors — guard Ryan Weir (17.2 points per game) and forward Joe Pesansky (14.6 points)– have provided the bulk of the production during this run. Now comes the toughest test with a matchup against Naples, the No. 2-ranked team in 5A according to MaxPreps. Tony Green, a 6-foot-6 guard, leads the team in scoring with an average of 21.6 points per game. 

Class 3A

Bishop McLaughlin (20-6) at Fort Myers Canterbury (18-11), 7

The Hurricanes, which were 2-22 last season, are playing the region final for the first time in school history. The turnaround was due to an influx of high-profile transfers, led by Emmanuel Sharp, who was the Class 5A state player of the year at Blake last season. Sharp, who returned from an injury six games into the season, leads the team in scoring with an average of 23.9 points per game. Dillon Mitchell, who came from Sickles, also has been a force, averaging 18.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. The Cougars have won six of the past seven games. In the region final, they exacted revenge with a win against rival Community School of Naples, which beat them in the district final. Alan Cedeno is averaging a team-high 21.6 points per game for Fort Myers Canterbury. 

Class 2A

Southwest Florida Christian (18-11) at Cambridge Christian (16-5), 6

The Lancers went almost a month without playing because of COVID safety protocols. Since returning from that layoff, Cambridge Christian has gone 13-3, including a current five-game win streak to reach the region final for the first time since 2000 when the school was named Seminole Presbyterian. To get there, the Lancers will have to get past a familiar foe in Southwest Florida Christian. The two teams met in last season’s region quarterfinals. Cambridge Christian prevailed in that one, 66-53, before losing in the region semifinals. Gavin Martinez, a two-sport star, leads the Lancers in scoring with an average of 17.1 points per game. 

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