The various district tournaments are over and the fields for the regional rounds in each classification are set. Time to look at what took place and what lies ahead this coming Thursday.
District Upsets: Five of the eight one seeds in Class 1A did not win the district title. In District One, #2 Jay defeated #1 Paxton giving Jay a one seed in the regionals while Paxton dropped to a two seed. Likewise in District Two, #2 Chipley defeated #1 Bonifay Bethlehem. Even though Chipley is a three seed, it will host #2 Paxton on Thursday because it won its district. In District Three, top seed Sneads fell in the semis to Bozeman of Panama City while #3 Blountstown defeated #2 Cottondale. Blountstown defeated Bozeman in the final. In past years, that would have kept both Sneads and Cottondale out of the playoffs, but they made it in this year. Sneads keeps a one seed and Cottondale gets in as a four seed. Blountstown’s win must have given its ranking enough of a boost to get the home game over District Four winner Franklin County, who was not a victim of the upset bug. In District Five, top seed Hilliard held serve while in District Six, #2 Hawthorne defeated #1 Newberry. Somehow, Newberry retained its top seed and Madison County elevated over Fort White for the four seed in region three. In District Seven, top seed Wildwood fell to #2 Williston, but the Wildcats still garnered a one seed, but have to go on the road to take on District Eight winner Vanguard School in Lakeland. Chiefland jumped Trenton to make it into the playoffs.
Toughest Region: The four teams in Region One finished in the top ten and any one of them could be the team to make Lakeland. Of the four, Jay has the best strength of schedule number.
Best Opening Matchup: While the top games in Region One will be competitive, we are looking at the Hawthorne/Hilliard matchup as the best one of the night. Hilliard has played nearly twice as many games as Hawthorne, so it feels like Hawthorne is still getting its legs under them. Hilliard will have to make a road trip to one of the more difficult places to play on Thursday night, but they have a realistic chance.
Best Chance for an Upset: Madison County is a four seed and has to go to top seed Newberry on Thursday night. Madison County has been very successful the last couple of seasons and won’t be intimidated. Newberry had better come prepared.
Jay over Bethlehem
Chipley over Paxton
Sneads over Cottondale
Blountstown over Franklin County
Newberry over Madison County
Hawthorne over Hilliard
Wildwood over Vanguard
Williston over Chiefland
District Upsets: All but four of the sixteen top seeds won their respective district tournaments. In District One, #2 Crossroad Academy took down #1 Quincy. The #3 seed in District Four, Ocala Redeemer Christian knocked off #1 seed Gainesville Oak Hall. Zephyrhills Christian, the #3 seed in District Five defeated the one seed Lecanto Seven Rivers Christian. In District Twelve, Naples Seacrest Country Day, the #2 seed beat #1 Neumann.
Toughest Region: Four of the top ten teams in the Classification reside in Region Four. Weston Sagemont, Jupiter Christian, Dade Christian, and True North Classical will each be at home in the opening round. Hopefully, some very good games will follow.
Best Opening Matchup: By the numbers, it should be #10 True North Classical hosing #12 Atlantic Christian out of West Palm Beach. True North is young but very talented and playing at home. Still, one must give Atlantic Christian a reasonable opportunity to pull it off.
Best Chance for an Upset: There are a couple of Four vs. Five matchups that could produce an upset. In Region One, University Christian out of Jacksonville, a higher seed, is on the road at Quincy Crossroad Academy. Crossroad has a better strength of schedule as well as one of the best players in the state in Kris Parker but the team has underachieved this year. In Region Three, Lakeside Christian from Clearwater is the five seed heading down to Naples St. John Neumann. Lakeside finished the regular season rated one spot above Neumann, so the teams should matchup up evenly.
Jacksonville North Florida Educational over Ocala Redeemer Christian
Quincy Crossroad Academy over Jacksonville University Christian
Jacksonville Impact Christian over Tallahassee North Florida Christian
St. Augustine St. Joseph Academy over Quincy Munroe
Orlando Christian Prep over Zephyrhills Christian
Mt. Dora Christian Academy over Orlando Faith Christian
Lakeland Victory Christian over Kissimmee City of Life Christian
Orlando Central Florida Christian over Ocoee Legacy Charter
Tampa Sports Leadership & Management over Valrico Foundation Christian
Naples St. John Neumann over Clearwater Lakeside Christian
St. Petersburg Canterbury over Naples Seacrest Country Day
Bradenton St. Stephen’s Episcopal over St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut
Weston Sagemont over Vero Beach St. Edward’s
Miami True North Classical over West Palm Beach Atlantic Christian
Jupiter Christian over Miami Christian
Miami Dade Christian over Lake Worth Christian
District Upsets: There is no question that Class 3A is the most talented and toughest classification in the state this season. Despite this, only two top seeds failed to win their respective district. One was surprising, the other not so much. The surprising one was Tallahassee Maclay, the two seed in District One, knocking of Tallahassee Florida High in the title game. Not as much of a surprise was Tampa Catholic defeating Berkeley Prep in District Nine. This may have been a case of Tampa Catholic having a much stronger strength of schedule as it was having the best player on the floor in Karter Knox.
Toughest Region: It just seems like there are a host of teams that have a realistic chance to come out of Region Three. Tampa Catholic, the #1 seed, is finally starting to hit their stride after a rocky regular season. Bradenton Christian may be an eight seed but is a solid program that must be respected. Fort Myers Gateway Charter has been impressive all year but face a rematch with Naples First Baptist, and that should be a good one. Clearwater Calvary Christian, the #2 seed, faces a rematch with St. Petersburg Northside Christian. Both teams were impressive over the holidays when we saw them in person. Finally, Tampa Berkeley Prep takes on a dangerous Brooks-DeBartolo team that has good guard play. It wouldn’t surprise if any of the top four seeds made it and it would shock if one of the lower seeds got on a three game run.
Best Opening Matchup: The Episcopal School of Jacksonville and The Master’s Academy out of Oviedo were ranked #9 and #12 respectively at the end of the season. Episcopal likes to play fast and shoot threes while The Master’s can and will play a variety of styles. Another interesting contest should be The Benjamin School taking on Melbourne Holy Trinity. The interior matchup between Benjamin’s Gavin Aydelotte and Trinity’s Caleb Gaskins should be entertaining.
Best Chance of an Upset: We think King’s Academy needs to be on alert for Santa Fe Catholic out of Lakeland Thursday night. Santa Fe finished just two spots lower than the Lions at the end of the regular season rankings and come into the contest with a significantly higher strength of schedule. It will be interesting to see if that pays off.
Jacksonville Providence over Interlachen
Oviedo The Master’s Academy over Episcopal School of Jacksonville
Florida High over Gainesville P.K. Yonge
Tallahassee Maclay over Marianna
Windermere Prep over Seffner Christian
Melbourne Holy Trinity Episcopal over Palm Beach Gardens The Benjamin School
Riverview Bell Creek Academy over Winter Garden Foundation Academy
West Palm Beach King’s Academy over Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic
Tampa Catholic over Bradenton Christian
Fort Myers Gateway Charter over Naples First Baptist Academy
Clearwater Calvary Christian over St. Petersburg Northside Christian
Tampa Berkeley Prep over Tampa Brooks-DeBartolo
Miami Riviera Prep over Boca Raton St. Andrew’s
Doral Divine Savior over Fort Lauderdale “U-School”
Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy over Homestead Keys Gate
Miami Country Day over Hialeah Educational Academy