boys basketball: Class 6A state semifinals breakdown — March 2

Boys Basketball State Semifinals

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

Class 6A

Wharton (24-6) vs. Palm Beach Dwyer (27-1), 6 today

How they got here: Wharton d. Immokalee 60-50, d. Naples Palmetto Ridge 61-45, d. Punta Gorda Charlotte 52-35. Palm Beach Dwyer d. Sunrise Piper 60-27, d. Miami Southridge 75-66, d. Pembroke Pines Charter 62-53.

Stat Leaders

CategoryWhartonPalm Beach Dwyer
Points per gameChandler Davis, 16.4Mason Brown, 13.7
Rebounds per gameKarmello Branch, 7.9Blake Wilson, 7.3
Assists per gameNick Womack, 3.2Frenelson Atlius, 3.9
Steals per gameChandler Davis, 1.4Mason Brown, 2.4
Blocks per gameNick Womack, 1.0Amari Nealy, 0.9


Wharton is back in the state semifinals.

Only this time, the Wildcats have a different coach.

Shawn Vanzant, a former star at Wharton, returned to his alma mater to replace his coach, Tommy Tonelli, who retired after guiding the program to the final four a year ago.

There was pressure to meet the expectations of a title-contending program. But Vanzant was equipped to handle the situation. He guided Bloomingdale to the playoffs as coach in each of the last two seasons. And he knew what it was like to play on a big stage after playing for a pair of national titles at Butler.

The Wildcats did not miss a beat.

After losing to Leto in the district, Wharton came together at the right time, beating Immokalee, Naples Palmetto Ridge and Punta Gorda Charlotte in the first three rounds of the postseason to return to Lakeland.

Two seniors, Chandler Davis and Karmello Brach, have been the leaders for the Wildcats.

Their experience will against Palm Beach Dwyer, ranked No. 2 in the class by MaxPreps.

The Panthers’ lone loss was by five points to Lake Worth at the end of January. Since then, Dwyer has won six straight games, including five by double digits.

Fred Ross, now in his 33rd season as coach of the Panthers, has 650 wins at the school (788 overall). His grandson, Bobby Gilbert, is a junior on the team.