We eked out a 4-0 record with our picks from last Tuesday in Class 1A. Both Central and Madison County won on the road. One of the bigger surprises was Wildwood’s double-digit margin of victory over a solid Hawthorne team.
Best Matchup: Both semi-finals present interesting matchups. With Central (Milton) vs. Quincy Crossroad Academy, you have what might be the best team in an undefeated Milton going up against a team with the best player in Crossroad’s sophomore Kris Parker (though Central’s Trenton Moye might object to that designation). We’ve seen players take over games down in Lakeland to get their teams to the final game and Parker certainly has the talent to do that. This might be where a team’s strength of schedule really comes into play. In the other semi, Wildwood and Madison county have made it to Lakeland quite often in the past three years or so. Both teams have a bevy of athletes that will look to get up and down the floor at a fast pace.
Best Chance for an Upset: No matter who wins two games in Lakeland in Class 1A, it should not be considered an upset. You have an undefeated team, the best player, and two perennial powerhouse programs. It should be a tremendous 1A final four.
Milton (Central) over Quincy Crossroad Academy
Wildwood over Madison County
Milton (Central) over Wildwood for the Class 1A state title
We went 3-1 in this classification. For the second year in a row, Region Three knocked us out as this time, Southwest Florida Christian won its third playoff game on the road, taking out Cambridge Christian out of Tampa. They come to Lakeland on a wave of momentum.
Best Matchup: The semi-final between an undefeated and nationally-ranked Orlando Christian Prep and #2 Boca Raton Grandview Prep certainly pits the two best teams in the classification against each other. OCP’s size and depth may be superior on paper but the Grandview Prep trio of Pedro Brown, Makhye Bolles, and Gunner Walters play with no fear. While the matchup between Impact Christian Academy out of Jacksonville, a finalist in 2A last season, and SWFL Christian certainly has a level of intrigue, it doesn’t reach the level of an undefeated team taking on a most capable challenger.
Best Chance for an Upset: The best CHANCE for an upset is SWFL Christian defying the odds once again and getting past Impact Christian in the semi-final. Just can’t see the steamroller that is Orlando Christian Prep being denied.
Jacksonville Impact Christian Academy over Fort Myers Southwest Florida Christian
Orlando Christian Prep over Boca Raton Grandview Prep
Orlando Christian Prep over Impact Christian Academy for 2A state title
Ho-Hum, another 3-1 finish. We genuinely felt that if Archbishop Carroll cold win at both Westminster Christian and Florida Christian, then going on the road to Miami Country Day wouldn’t be as much of a challenge. That assumption was incorrect. In the other three regional finals, the winners were just too tall and talented to be denied.
Best Matchup: Of the two semi-final games, we feel like the closest will be Jacksonville Jackson vs. Bishop McLaughlin. Jackson can throw a lot of size to counter Dillon Mitchell around the rim and can also trot out some small, quick guards that can take turns harassing Emanuel Sharp. Conversely, up until the playoffs, Jackson has had difficulty scoring. If McLaughlin can get Jackson to return to its previous aversion to putting the ball in the basket, it will give them a much better chance at winning. In the other semi-final, we like the guard play of MCD’s Jordan Cook and Jasai Miles, but the size of the Calvary Christian will most likely be overwhelming
Best Chance for an Upset: That chance would most likely come in the finals as the winner of Jackson/McLaughlin will have its hands full with Calvary. Jackson’s size will certainly help its cause, while a contest between McLaughlin and Calvary would feature four of the best players in Florida’s 2022 class in Greg Glenn and Taylor Hendricks of Calvary and the aforementioned Mitchell and Sharp of McLaughlin.
Jacksonville Jackson over Spring Hill Bishop McLaughlin
Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian over Miami Country Day
Calvary Christian over Jackson for 3A state title
We came up one game short in our quest for perfection as Santa Fe went on the road and won a two-point game in the final seconds over Lake Highland Prep. West Nassau also had a tough home game against a tenacious Marianna squad. On the other side of the bracket, Astronaut and Pine Crest rolled to easy wins at home as expected.
Best Matchup: One of the best aspects of this final four is that each team has a D-I caliber player or players that catalyzes his respective squad. For West Nassau, its Georgia Tech-bound Dallan “Deebo” Coleman. For Santa Fe, Ernest Ross, a North Carolina State signee, is the man. Astronaut is propelled by Illinois-Chicago commit Jace Carter while Pine Crest double-dips with twin Ausar and Amen Thompson. Of the two semis, the West Nassua/Santa Fe would seem to be the most competitive. Both teams have decent players surrounding their respective star. Santa Fe has a bit more size at its disposal and that could make a difference.
Best Chance for an Upset: Should Pine Crest lose, whether its semi or in the final, that would be an upset. For while the other three teams have their own “stud”, Pine Crest has two. Clearly, the supporting cast around the Thompson twins is competent enough to have led the to the top ranking in 4A and this deep into the playoffs.
Santa Fe over West Nassau
Pine Crest over Astronaut
Pine Crest over Santa Fe for 4A state title