We came oh-so-close to going 8-0 on Tuesday night but Pembroke Pines Charter dispatched #2 seed St. Thomas Aquinas by a pair to reduce us to 7-1. That was the only game of the night in 6A that was decided by a single possession and one of only two that finished with an eight point margin or less. Three of the top four seeds advanced to the regional final but there will only be a pair of #1 vs. #2 matchups. Punta Corda Charlotte, a #4 seed, and #6 Pines Charter, a #6 seed, might be considered “surprise” finalist by some but Charlotte has prepared itself for the playoffs all season with a tough schedule while Pines Charter, while playing up and down this season, has the talent to beat just about anyone in the state regardless of classification.
Best Matchup: Lots of talent will be on display when Pines Charter rolls into Palm Beach Gardens to take on Dwyer. The Panthers of Dwyer only have one loss on the season while the Jaguars of Pines Charter have been up and down to be kind. Dwyer is driven by a group of seniors who realize it is their last opportunity to win a state title and are playing with a sense of urgency. Pines Charter’s best players are underclassmen so they will need to have a sense of urgency of their own if they want any chance to prevail on Friday night.
Best Chance for an Upset: Charlotte has the talent to go into Wharton and win. Whether or not that happens is a different story. Physically the teams are very similar and it will be an interesting chess match between a pair of young, first-year head coaches.
Ponte Vedra over Gainesville HS
Apopka Wekiva over Lakeland HS
Tampa Wharton over Punta Gorda Charlotte
Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer over Pembroke Pines Charter
Well, that didn’t go so well. We got kicked in the teeth by a trio of road warriors to make our Tuesday record 5-3. We are not surprised that Windermere and Orlando Oak Ridge both went on the road to beat the #1 and #2 seeds in the region respectively, but the fact that they each won by fifteen points and leaving no room for doubt as to who was the better team that night was certainly shocking. Deerfield Beach went down to Miami Palmetto and made believers out of many with a nine-point win. Three of the #1 seeds advanced to the regional final but there will only be a pair of #1 vs. #2 matchups. The closest game Tuesday night was Orlando Colonial’s win over Lake Brantley by eight points. In the state’s largest classification, one would think the games would be closer the farther you go into the playoffs.
Best Matchup: Windermere at Oak Ridge is a match-up of top ten teams and both of them seem to be playing their best basketball of the season. Windermere has lost twice to Oak Ridge already this season: by six early in December and by fifteen on a neutral court in the district playoffs.
Best Chance for an Upset: To be honest, it is hard to imagine a scenario where Lithia Newsome goes into Winter Haven and wins and the same with Deerfield Beach at Columbus. Even if Windermere beats Oak Ridge on the road in Orlando, we don’t see it as an upset. Orlando crosstown rivals Evans and Colonial is a toss-up.
Orlando Colonial over Orlando Evans
Orlando Oak Ridge over Windermere
Winter Haven over Lithia Newsome
Miami Columbus over Deerfield Beach