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Boys basketball region final recap



Class 6A

Punta Gorda Charlotte 59, East Lake 56

The Eagles, ranked No. 1 in 6A throughout the season, were on the verge of returning to the state semifinals for the second straight season. 

Charlotte, a team East Lake beat by 32 in the region semifinals a year ago, was the only opponent that stood in the way. 

Ahead by three at the half, the Eagles watched their lead evaporate. In the end, they could not get a 3-pointer to fall when they needed it in the waning seconds of regulation.

Dean Gabrelcik and Anthony Bittar each finished with 15 points to lead East Lake.

Class 5A

Jesuit 59, Naples 56

The Tigers, who were without nearly the entire varsity squad during the district tournament, continued their epic run through the playoffs by reaching the state semifinals for the first time since 2016. 

Playing on the road for the third postseason game, Jesuit built a 25-19 lead at the half, then held on as the Golden Eagles made a furious rally. 

In the closing minute, the Tigers’ veterans, senior guard Ryan Weir and senior forward Joe Pesansky, each hit critical 3-pointers. Pesansky’s long-range shot ended up being the game-winner. 

But they were not the only ones hitting from the perimeter. Jack Delp finished with a team-high 18 points, including six 3-pointers. Pesansky had 16 points and nine rebounds.  

Class 3A

Bishop McLaughlin 47, Fort Myers Canterbury 42

The Hurricanes had never made the playoffs before this season. 

Not only did Bishop McLaughlin qualify for the postseason, its star-studded roster won three straight playoff games on the road to reach the state semifinals. 

In the region final, the Hurricanes had to battle through some adversity. 

They rallied from a halftime deficit to make it to the final four. 

Emanuel Sharp scored a team-high 18 and Joshua Watkins had 14 to lead Bishop McLaughlin. 

Class 2A

Southwest Florida Christian 63, Cambridge Christian 53

The Lancers’ first region final appearance since 2000 nearly ended with a trip to the state semifinals. 

Cambridge Christian was in control and held a one-point lead going into the fourth quarter. 

But they could not hold on. 

Southwest Florida Christian, which had already knocked off defending 2A state finalist Bayshore Christian in a region quarterfinal thriller, rallied by outscoring the Lancers 22-11 in the fourth quarter. 

Cambridge Christian had three players — Mac Creek (14 points), Gavin Martinez (12) and Peyton McBrien (10) — who reached double figures in scoring. 

State semifinal schedule

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

Class 5A

Jesuit vs. Pembroke Pines Charter, 4 Thursday

Class 3A

Andrew Jackson vs. Bishop McLaughlin, 2 Wednesday


The Hillsborough County Football Player of the Week



LB/S Cole Highsmith, Jr., Plant City

After becoming a starter as a sophomore last season, Cole Highsmith took on a more prominent role as one of the leaders of Plant City’s defense. 

He took on that task by making play after play. 

This season, Highsmith has recorded 73 tackles and six sacks. Those totals already surpassed what he ended up with last year. 

Against Bloomingdale two weeks ago, Highsmith had 13 tackles, two sacks and an interception to lead the Raiders to victory. 

Fans paid attention. Highsmith received 50 percent of the votes (746) in the Hillsborough County football player of the week poll to beat out Wharton’s Daveon Crouch, who had 25 percent (376 votes). 

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Thursday night football forecast



Seffner Christian (2-3) at St. Petersburg Catholic (3-3), 7

After starting 2-0, the visiting Crusaders have lost three straight. The host Barons, meanwhile, have rebounded from a 1-2 start to win two of their last three games. 

Putnam’s prediction: St. Petersburg Catholic 30-28

Gibbs (3-3) at Tarpon Springs (3-3), 7

An important Class 5A, District 10 game for both teams not only to stay in the mix for a title but also to get above .500 for the season. 

Putnam’s prediction: Gibbs 34-21 

Clearwater (5-1) at Anclote (1-5), 7:30

The Tornadoes have won five straight and are the clear favorite to the Class 5A, District 10 title. The host Sharks are on a two-game losing streak. 

Putnam’s prediction: Clearwater 42-7

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Thursday sports schedule (Oct. 14)



What to watch


Sunlake (12-5) at Wesley Chapel (13-4), 6

The Seahawks, who have won four straight, try to maintain their streak against the Wildcats in a rematch from last week that Sunlake took in five sets. 

Palm Harbor University (14-8) at Mitchell (18-0), 6:30

The Mustangs have a shot at going undefeated in the regular season. To do that, Mitchell has get the Hurricanes, who have turned things around. 

St. Petersburg (15-8) at East Lake (16-7), 7

The Pinellas County Athletic Conference final is between teams with impressive streaks. The Green Devils have won seven straight while the host Eagles have won five in a row. East Lake has owned the series this season, sweeping its rival in the previous three meetings. 

Newsome (16-7) at Bloomingdale (11-5), 7:30

Both teams have won three straight heading into their regular season finale. 

The schedules


Solid Rock Christian at Grace Christian, 4:30

Zephyrhills Christian at Hernando Christian, 5

Hillsborough Baptist at Foundation Christian, 5

Tampa Prep at Ocala Trinity Catholic, 5:30

Oldsmar Christian at Elfers Christian, 5:30

Brandon Academy at Universal Academy, 6

Sunlake at Wesley Chapel, 6

Tampa Bay HEAT at Shorecrest, 6

Weeki Wachee at Hernando, 6:30

Wiregrass Ranch at Anclote, 6:30

Carrollwood Day at Calvary Christian, 6:30

Citrus at Nature Coast, 6:30

Palm Harbor University at Mitchell, 6:30

St. Petersburg Catholic at Sarasota Christian, 7

Zephyrhills at Gulf, 7

Gulf Coast HEAT at Tampa SLAM, 7

Seven Rivers Christian at Cambridge Christian, 7

Alonso at Freedom, 7

Crystal River at Springstead, 7

St. Petersburg at East Lake, 7

Central at Lecanto, 7:30

Sumner at Brandon, 7:30

Cypress Creek at Pasco, 7:30

Tampa Bay Tech at Gaither, 7:30

River Ridge at Hudson, 7:30

Riverview at East Bay, 7:30

Newsome at Bloomingdale, 7:30

Spoto at Durant, 7:30

Middleton at Leto, 7:30

Plant at Robinson, 7:30

Jefferson at Armwood, 7:30

Indian Rocks Christian at Countryside, 7:30


Plant at Berkeley Prep, 5

Tampa Prep at Berkeley Prep, 5:30

Lennard, Riverview at East Bay (Apollo Beach), 6

Blake, Leto at Hillsborough (Copeland), 6

Spoto, Tampa Bay Tech at Plant City (Plant CityYMCA), 6

Freedom at Academy of the Holy Names, 6:30

Steinbrenner, Wharton at Robinson (Bobby Hicks), 6:30

Gaither at Middleton (Cyrus Green), 6:30

Spoto, Sumner at Jefferson (Interbay), 6:30

Brandon, Tampa Bay HEAT at Bloomingdale (High five), 7


East Bay at Riverview (boys), 2

Hillsborough at Leto (boys), 2:30

Freedom at Jesuit (boys), 2:30

Alonso at Chamberlain (boys), 3

Sickles at Jefferson (boys/girls), 3

Steinbrenner at Gaither (boys), 3

Newsome at Plant City (boys), 3

Sumner at King (boys/girls), 3:30

Plant at Robinson (boys), 3:30

Berkeley Prep at Tampa Prep, 4

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