Boys basketball: Three Tampa Catholic storylines to follow in 3A semifinals

Tampa Catholic is boys basketball team is playing Florida State High in today’s Class 3A state semifinals at 4 p.m. at Lakeland’s RP Funding Center. Here are three storylines to follow.

The traveling Crusaders

Today, Tampa Catholic heads to Lakeland to play in the Class 3A state semifinals. 

Playing a game on the road is nothing new for the Crusaders. 

After all, they have practiced and played everywhere but their own school this season. 

Tampa Catholic turned into this traveling squad out of necessity. The gym is being rebuilt as part of a $5.6 facelift to the athletic field house, which will be named after former Crusaders standout and current Atlanta Hawks forward Kevin Knox II, who donated $2 million to the project. 

Lakeland will be the 11th city in the state Tampa Catholic has played in this year. The Crusaders also went to Georgia and Tennessee for tournaments. 

Playing on the road for so long could be beneficial, especially in the 3A state tournament. Tampa Catholic knows how to adjust playing in different arenas, even bigger venues such as Lakeland’s RP Funding Center. 

Tallahasse’s FSU High, the Crusaders’ opponent in today’s 3A semifinal, is making its first state semifinal appearance since 1999.  

The Knox legacy continues

The state semifinals has become a family tradition for the Knox brothers. Kevin Knox II made it plenty of times. So did Kobe Knox. 

Now it is Karter Knox’s turn. 

The sophomore is playing in the state semifinals for the first time today. 

Karter, a five-star recruit who is ranked first in the state and 10th nationally in the 2024 class by ESPN, has the same kind of accolades that older brother Kevin had in high school. 

Kevin went on to play for Ketucky and became a lottery pick with the New York Knicks. Last month, he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks

If the Crusaders win today, Karter will join his brothers as state semifinal participants. But he can also do something his siblings never did: win a state title. 

Familiar spot

Tampa Catholic is playing in the state semifinals for the sixth time in the past seven seasons. Last year, the Crusaders had their five-year semifinal streak snapped with a loss to Titusville Astronaut in the region final. 

That motivated the Crusaders, who played a challenging schedule to get ready for another postseason run. 

Reaching the state semifinals is nice, but Tampa Catholic’s ultimate goal is to win the school’s first title since 1995.