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Boys Basketball

Boys basketball region quarterfinal recap

Bob Putnam

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Scoreboard

Class 7A

Alonso 62, Durant 55

Sarasota Riverview 54, Wharton 44

Class 6A

East Lake 78, Largo 42

Wiregrass Ranch 72, St. Petersburg 69

Lakeland Kathleen 55, Bloomingdale 41

Plant City 78, Hillsborough 71

Class 5A

Blake 49, Boca Ciega 46

Jesuit 63, Clearwater 49

Leesburg 82, Land O’ Lakes 76

Fivay 67, Orlando Jones 60

Class 4A

Tampa Catholic 76, Cocoa 58

Alachua Santa Fe 58, Central 37

Lake Highland Prep 63, Wesley Chapel 38

Eustis 39, Nature Coast 36

Class 3A

Carrollwood Day 81, St. Petersburg Catholic 57

Bishop McLaughlin 62, Calvary Christian 48

Class 2A

Brandon Academy 56, Academy at the Lakes 49

Cambridge Christian 79, Zephyrhills Christian 68

Southwest Florida Christian 69, Bayshore Christian 68

Naples First Baptist 57, Canterbury 49

Prime time performers

G Juan Arias, Sr., Brandon Academy: Had 16 points and 12 rebounds in a win over Academy at the Lakes.

G Deon Brown, Sr., Bayshore Christian: Led the Faith Warriors with 26 points in a loss to Southwest Florida Christian. 

G Jalen Brown, Sr., Academy at the Lakes: Finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds in a loss to Brandon Academy.  

G Dean Gabrelcik, Sr., East Lake: Led the Eagles with 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a win over Largo. 

G DJ Haynes, Jr., Plant City: Had 23 points, six rebounds and four assists in a win over Hillsborough. 

G Eric Howard, Sr., Fivay: Scored a team-high 27 points in a win over Orlando Jones. 

G Karter Knox, Fr., Tampa Catholic: Finished with 20 points and seven rebounds in a win over Cocoa. 

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. 

F/C Tim Reilly, Sr., St. Petersburg Catholic: Had 27 points and 11 rebounds in a loss to Carrollwood Day.

G Trent Scott, Jr., Alonso: Led the Ravens with 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists in a win over Durant. 

G Emanuel Sharp, Fr., Bishop McLaughlin: Scored 22 points and had eight rebounds in a win over Calvary Christian.  

G Demetri Whitehead, Jr., Zephyrhills Christian: Finished with 28 points in a loss to Cambridge Christian. 

Tuesday’s region semifinal schedule

Class 7A

Alonso at Sarasota Riverview

Class 6A

Wiregrass Ranch at East Lake

Plant City at Lakeland Kathleen

Class 5A

Jesuit at Blake

Leesburg at Fivay

Class 4A

Astronaut at Tampa Catholic

Class 3A

Bishop McLaughlin at Carrollwood Day

Class 2A

Brandon Academy at Cambridge Christian

Boys Basketball

Sharp’s shooting leads to Bishop McLaughlin to 3A state final

Bob Putnam

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Bishop McLaughlin’s burgeoning athletic program has already done some impressive things this school year. In the fall, the volleyball team reached the state semifinals and the football program played for a state title as an independent. 

On Wednesday, it was the boys basketball that had the spotlight. 

The Hurricanes, who won just two games last season, made a memorable playoff debut by reaching the state semifinals for the first time. 

When it came to postseason experience, Bishop McLaughlin was at a serious disadvantage in its matchup with Jacksonville Andrew Jackson. 

The Tigers were in the semifinals for the third straight season and were motivated to get to the championship game after losing in the finals the past two seasons. They had 10 returning players accustomed to being on basketball’s biggest stage. 

Still, the Hurricanes had something better.

They had Emanuel Sharp.

Sharp, the Class 5A state player of the year when he was at Blake last season, was among several high-profile transfers who made Bishop McLaughlin’s turnaround possible. 

Sharp took those honors because of ability to pile on the points. 

And that is just what the junior guard in the semifinals, finishing with 39 points to lead the Hurricanes to a 79-71 victory. Bishop McLaughlin will play the Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian-Miami Country Day winner in Friday’s 3A title game

And that is just what the junior guard in the semifinals, finishing with 39 points to lead the Hurricanes to a 77-71 victory. Bishop McLaughlin will play the Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian-Miami Country Day winner in Friday’s 3A title game.

From the start, Sharp dominated. He threw down emphatic dunks. He stepped back and hit NBA-range 3-pointers. He knocked down free throws.

More importantly, he rarely missed, an impressive feat for someone making his state semifinal debut. 

The vastness of Lakeland’s RP Funding Center, site of the tournament, can create problems with depth perception on long-range shots. Typically, area teams that make it there schedule a practice at USF or Eckerd College to get used to playing in a bigger arena.

Trouble was, no team was able to practice elsewhere because of the pandemic. 

That did not faze Sharp. 

He missed just two shots in the first half, going 7-of-9 in field goals and hitting all 12 of his free throw attempts. His 28 points led all scorers and helped the Hurricanes go into the half with a 38-23 lead.

Sharp’s shooting touch cooled off. He made just one of his six field goal attempts in the second half. But his first half performance — and his ability to hit some clutch free throws (21-of-22 overall from the line) — was more than enough to lead the Hurricanes into the final. 

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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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