Boys basketball: Calvary Christian’s tough schedule is paying off — Jan. 9

After reaching the region semifinals last season, Calvary Christian coach Keb Burley knew he needed to put together a schedule with few easy nights. 

After all, the Warriors are in Class 3A, one of the toughest in the state. In order to make another postseason run, Calvary Christian has to be prepared to face quality competition. 

“It’s brutal,” Burley said two weeks ago at the Sun Bash Tampa tournament. “Our entire region is just loaded. We want to play the best teams so we’re battle-tested when it counts.”

So far, the plan is working. 

For the second straight season, Calvary Christian went 3-0 at Sun Bash Tampa, beating Plant, Northshore (La.) and East Lake in a rare matchup between North Pinellas County schools. 

That improved the Warriors’ record to 11-2 last week. The stellar start against worthy opponents was a big reason Calvary Christian was No. 1 in Class 3A, Region 2 when the Florida High School Athletic Association released its initial rankings that determine playoff seeding and at-large postseason berths. 

In their only game this past week, the Warriors were once again tested against Fort Myers Gateway Charter, the No. 2 ranked team in the region. 

Calvary Christian prevailed in that challenge, too, winning 69-60 to extend its win streak to six games. 

The Warriors got off to a quick start, building a 24-12 lead after the first quarter, enough of a cushion to prevent Gateway Charter from making any serious run. 

Daniel Macgregor came up big, scoring a team-high 34 points, and Ace Taylor added 18. 

“It was big for us,” Burley said of the win against Gateway Charter. “This definitely helps with the rankings as we get closer to the playoffs, and it was a great opportunity for us to try to get better against a really good team.”

This week comes one of the most anticipated matchups of the season. 

On Tuesday, the Warriors travel to play Tampa Catholic. 

Last year, Calvary Christian beat the Crusaders by double digits in the regular season. Tampa Catholic got revenge with a double digit victory over the Warriors in the region semifinals enroute to advancing to the state semifinals.