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Boys basketball region finals preview

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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. 

Boys Basketball

Schedule for Kevin Durant National Hoopfest released

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The Kevin Durant National Hoopfest series will make its way to the Tampa Bay area on Jan. 28-29.

The tournament, now being held at St. Petersburg High, is the last of four stops that have already been announced.

What makes the event noteworthy is that it matches teams from the area against nationally-ranked teams from across the country, giving fans a chance to root on their local school as well as check out players who will be playing for major colleges and NBA teams in the future.

Here is the schedule, which was released this weekend.

Jan. 28

AZ Compass Prep (Ariz.) vs. Ischool of Lewisville (Texas), 5

IMG Academy vs. Oldsmar Christian, 6:30

St. Pete vs. Oak Hill Academy (Va.), 8

Jan. 29

Windemere Prep vs. Wasatch Academy (Utah), 1

Orlando Christian Prep vs. Oak Hill Academy (Va.), 2:30

Oldsmar Christian vs. Ischool of Lewisville (Texas), 4

Tampa Catholic vs. AZ Compass Prep (Ariz.), 5:30

IMG Academy vs. St. Petersburg, 7

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Boys Basketball

Dillon Mitchell transfers to Montverde Academy

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Dillon Mitchell, a four-star recruit who helped Bishop McLaughlin reach the state final for the first time this past season, has transferred to boys basketball powerhouse Montverde Academy. 

Mitchell, a 6-foot-7 senior small forward, made the announcement Thursday night on his Twitter account. 

In 2017, Montverde was named the nation’s top basketball program of the decade by USA Today. Several current NBA players went there, including Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and R.J. Barrett. Two more notable alumni, Oklahoma’s Cade Cunningham and and FSU’s Scottie Barnes, are expected to be among the top five picks in this year’s NBA draft. 

The ability to mold such high-profile stars prompted Mitchell to make the move. 

“They have developed great players to be successful at the next level,” Mitchell said of Montverde. “The competition is awesome,and being able to play against the best even at practice will help me become better. I believe it’s a great move.”

This is Mitchell’s third school in as many years. 

During the 2019-20 season, Mitchell played at Sickles, averaging 12.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game with the Gryphons.

He left this past season to attend Bishop McLaughlin, where he teamed with another four-star prospect, Emanuel Sharp, to form a dynamic 1-2 scoring punch. Mitchell (featured photo above by Willie Kelly) finished the season averaging 17.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game while leading the Hurricanes to the Class 3A state final. 

Mitchell is rated fourth in the state and 29th nationally in the Class of 2022 by ESPN. He has offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, FSU, Miami, Ohio State and Tennessee, among others.  . 

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Boys Basketball

FHSAA releases boys basketball class and district assignments

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The Florida High School Athletic Association released the classifications, districts and regions for boys basketball this coming season. The assignments are based on student enrollment numbers from October 2020. This is a one-year cycle that the FHSAA board of directors voted on. There likely will be a two-year cycle starting with the 2022-23 calendar year. The classifications and districts for the other sports will be released at a later date. Below is the list for area teams. For the full  boys basketball list click here.  

Class 7A, District 6

Alonso

East Lake

Palm Harbor University

Plant 

Sickles

Steinbrenner

Class 7A, District 7

Durant

Lakewood Ranch

Newsome

Plant City

Riverview

Class 6A, District 9

Gaither

Land O’ Lakes

Largo

Leto

Mitchell

Pinellas Park

Sunlake

Class 6A, District 10

Armwood

Hillsborough

Strawberry Crest

Tampa Bay Tech

Wharton

Wiregrass Ranch

Class 6A, District 11

Bloomingdale

Bradenton Manatee

Braden River

East Bay

Lennard

Palmetto

Sumner

Class 5A, District 5

Belleview

Citrus

Lake Weir

Lecanto

Leesburg

Ocala Vanguard

Springstead

Class 5A, District 6

Cypress Creek

Fivay

Gulf

Pasco, River Ridge

Wesley Chapel

Zephyrhills

Class 5A, District 8

Blake

Brandon

Freedom

Jefferson

Jesuit

King

Middleton

Robinson

Class 5A, District 9

Clearwater

Countryside

Hollins

Osceola

Seminole

Class 5A, District 10

Boca Ciega

Bradenton Bayshore

Bradenton Southeast

Northeast

St. Petersburg

Class 4A, District 9

Central

Crystal River

Hernando

Nature Coast

South Sumter

Weeki Wachee

Class 4A, District 10

Anclote

Chamberlain

Dunedin

Hudson

Tarpon Springs

Class 4A, District 11

Gibbs

Lakewood

Parrish

Sarasota Booker

Sebring

Wauchula Hardee

Class 3A, District 5

Bell Creek

Bishop McLaughlin

Brooks DeBartolo

Carrollwood Day

Seffner Christian

Tampa Catholic

Tampa Prep

Class 3A, District 6

Admiral Farragut

Berkeley Prep

Calvary Christian

Clearwater Central Catholic

Shorecrest

St. Petersburg Catholic

Class 2A, District 9

Academy at the Lakes

Classical Prep

Hernando Christian

Seven Rivers Christian

Zephyrhills Christian

Class 2A, District 10

Bayshore Christian

Brandon Academy

Cambridge Christian

Foundation Christian

Lakeside Christian

Universal Academy

Class 2A, District 11

Bradenton Christian

Bradenton Gulf Coast HEAT

Canterbury

Indian Rocks Christian

Keswick Christian

Port Charlotte Community Christian

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