The final week of the regular season is here. Pinellas County teams are making one final push to get ready to contend for a district title or to qualify for a playoff spot with an at-large bid. There is plenty of balance in the county with several teams vying for the top 10 spots in the rankings. Check out the list below.
1. Clearwater (12-9)
Up next: Wednesday vs. Brooks DeBartolo
The lowdown: After Georgia Southern signee Liv Fuller in late November, the Tornadoes came together to extend their win streak to eight games, including five in a row without their senior standout. Since then, Clearwater has struggled, going 3-6 in its last nine games. But the bulk of those losses were against high-level, out-of-county opponents. The Tornadoes still managed to clinch the North Division of the Pinellas County Athletic Conference and will face Gibbs in the title game. That is a rematch from a game Clearwater won last month, 54-52. Ace Sturdivant, who eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau in her career earlier this season, has been one of the leaders for the Tornadoes. But they also are getting solid contributions from Pink Sturdivant, Geriya Grady, Daiah Lee, Allevia Williams and Jade Price.
2. Gibbs (16-4)
Up next: Monday at Countryside; Tuesday vs. Palm Harbor University; Wednesday vs. Hollins
The lowdown: Two weeks ago, the Gladiators knocked off neighboring rival Lakewood to clinch a spot in the PCAC title game for just the second time in school history. Jacquavia Ferguson (20 points), Zacoya Grant (14) and Peyton Flournoy (10) all reached double figures in scoring. Gibbs, which has won 11 of its last 12 games, will have plenty of momentum when it takes on Clearwater in the conference title game.
3. Lakewood (12-5)
Up next: Idle
The lowdown: It has been an emotional month for the Spartans. Two weeks ago, they played in their first game since a car accident Christmas night left five Lakewood students, including two girls basketball starters – Alahni Lovett and A’shiya Youngblood – initially in serious or critical condition. After losing two of their first three games since returning, the Spartans have turned things around, winning three straight games, including victories over St. Petersburg (49-37) and Carrollwood Day (49-44).
4. Keswick Christian (16-6)
Up next: Monday vs. Boca Ciega; Thursday at St. Petersburg Catholic; Friday at Brooks DeBartolo
The lowdown: The Crusaders have already hit some individual marks this season with Robyn Cantwell setting the school record for most 3-pointers in a game with nine and Ava Graham becoming just the 11th player at the school to reach 1,000 points in her career. After winning four straight games earlier this month, the Crusaders have lost three of their last four, the bulk of those resulting in a beefed up schedule against quality competition.
5. East Lake (16-5)
Up next: Monday vs. Mitchell; Wednesday vs. Fivay; Friday at Seminole; Saturday at Clearwater Central Catholic
The lowdown: The Eagles have some playmakers on offense. Avery Chatman, one of the top freshmen in the state, is averaging a whopping 30.4 points per game. Sydney Rush, a senior, eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau in her career two weeks ago. Still, the Eagles are trying to find some consistency after going 1-2 this past week with losses to Clearwater (68-47) and Sickles (59-36) and win against Palm Harbor University (72-33).
6. St. Petersburg (13-5)
Up next: Monday at Palm Harbor University; Tuesday vs. Largo; Thursday vs. Academy of the Holy Names
The lowdown: After starting the season 11-1, the Green Devils have lost four of their last six games. Ava Stoller, who picked up an offer from UC Santa Barbara last week, continues to be a force on offense, averaging 26.4 points per game. The schedule does not get any easier with tough home matchups against Largo on Tuesday and Academy of the Holy Names on Thursday to close out the regular season.
7. Largo (12-4)
Up next: Monday at Northeast; Tuesday at St. Petersburg
The lowdown: The Packers, winners of seven straight games, are playing their best basketball at the right time. Makayla Paschal (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Jillian York (12 points, 10 rebounds) each averaged double-doubles in wins over Pinellas Park and Tarpon Springs this past week. The late season surge has helped the Packers stay in the top eight of its region. They likely can remain there – or even move up – with a victory over St. Petersburg in the regular season finale.
8. Calvary Christian (9-9)
Up next: Tuesday vs. Wesley Chapel; Friday at Sarasota Cardinal Mooney; Saturday at Tampa Catholic
The lowdown: Zou Raine, a Washington and Lee commit who already surpassed 1,000 points in her career, led the Warriors with a team-high 16 points in a win over Berkeley Prep this past week. That victory, along with one over Steinbrenner the previous week, are signs Calvary Christian could be finding its groove. The Warriors will try to keep that momentum with tough games against Wesley Chapel, Sarasota Cardinal Mooney and Tampa Catholic to close out the regular season.
9. Clearwater Central Catholic (15-6)
Up next: Thursday vs. Northeast; Saturday vs. East Lake
The lowdown: Defense has been key to the Marauders’ success. So far, they have held 11 opponents to less than 30 points. The latest came in a 30-13 victory over Osceola that extended CCC’s current win streak to three games. Alexis Benoit , who scored 11 points against the Warriors, was the only Marauder who reached double figures in scoring.
10. St. Petersburg Catholic (17-4)
Up next: Tuesday at Admiral Farragut; Thursday vs. Keswick Christian; Friday at Northside Christian
The lowdown: The Barons are starting to put things together. They have won five straight games, all by double digits. Liv Geritano, a sophomore, came up big last week, averaging 16 points, eight steals and six rebounds in victories over Shorecrest, Pinellas Park and Lakeside Christian. A nice test comes Thursday against Keswick Christian in the final week of the regular season.
On the bubble: Countryside (10-7), Seminole (8-12)