We skated through to a 7-1 finish with our picks for the round. Our only blemish was Jacksonville Bishop Kenny taking out Duval rival Paxon. There were a couple tight contests as Fort Myers Gateway held on to win by three over Brooksville Central while The Villages eked out a one-point over North Marion, supposedly on a bucket that beat the buzzer. All four #1 seeds have made their respective region final. Two of the games are #1 vs #2 matchups while the others are #1 vs. #3.
Best Matchup: This is a really tough call as all four games have an equal chance being dynamic or duds. By the numbers, it should be #1 Mater Lakes Academy hosting #3 North Broward Prep. Both teams like to shoot the three and have a guy with size than can make on impact inside the paint and around the basket at both ends of the court. However, Bishop Kenny at Ribault, both Jacksonville schools, has a lot more storylines around it. Duval County schools; one public, one private; similar records and strength of schedules; the list goes on. There are some bragging rights to this one.
Best Chance for an Upset: The only contender in this category is Fort Myers Gateway heading up I-75 and crossing the Sunshine Skyway to take on St. Pete Gibbs. Gateway has Tavian Cook, a 6’3 junior that makes plays for himself and others and 6’7 senior Eugene Alvin that will battle inside while Gibbs returns nearly its whole cast from a team that went to Lakeland last year and desperately want another shot.
Jacksonville Ribault over Jacksonville Bishop Kenny
Alachua Santa Fe over The Villages Charter
St. Petersburg Gibbs over Fort Myers Gateway
Hialeah Mater Lakes Academy over Coconut Creek North Broward Prep
We barely stayed on the plus side, going a mediocre 5-3 with our Tuesday night picks. Two of those three were one points wins on the road by Tampa Jesuit and Miami Norland. However, you know what they say: Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and thermonuclear war. Lake City Columbia was the other team to go on the road, in this case a long ride to Pensacola, and get a win to advance. All four #1 seeds advanced to the regional finals while only one #2 seed and three #3 seeds got that far.
Best Matchup: By the numbers, it should be #1 Belen Jesuit hosting #6 Miami Norland. Belen won by almost forty at home Tuesday while Norland won by two on the road. The Vikings will have to bring that same intensity and energy if they want to duplicate that feat on Friday night.
Best Chance for an Upset: Not sure why, but there just isn’t a buzz surrounding the 5A classification. Belen is the only team in the top twenty of the power ranking regardless of class. It just feels like that it doesn’t matter who wins on Friday and no victory will be considered an upset.
Daytona Beach Mainland over Lake City Columbia
Orlando Jones over Tampa Jesuit
Naples Barron Collier over St. Petersburg HS
Miami Belen Jesuit over Miami Norland