Region Finals Recap and Final Four Preview: 5A thru 7A

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CLASS 5A

We limped home with a mediocre 2-2 record after Friday’s regional finals.  Rickards went on the road to defeat a very good Lee squad in Jacksonville while a young Naples crew won up in Clearwater.  Of the two, Naples is a bit more of a surprise.

Best Matchup: Rickards vs. Sebring should be an entertaining matchup of athletic teams that get after opponents on both ends of the floor.  Expect the town of Sebring to empty out to come and support their team.

Best Chance for an Upset: The only upset would be if Naples and/or Pines Charter score below 70 points in their semi-final contest.  Both teams have proven over the course of the season that they can put up big numbers.  This game should be very entertaining.

Our Picks

Tallahassee Rickards over Sebring

Pembroke Pines Charter over Naples

Pembroke Pines Charter over Tallahassee Rickard for 5A state title

CLASS 6A

Our only blemish in our 3-1 record from Friday was Dillard going down south and winning handily.  The Panthers have won by double-figures in their region semi and region final contests, looking more impressive each time out.

Best Matchup: A bit surprised that East Lake, and not Columbia, is the fourth seed.  However, that makes for a very good matchup between Bartow and East Lake in one semi-final.  Both teams rely on stellar guard play and neither team has much size inside.

Best Chance for an Upset: The only chance for an upset is Columbia over Dillard.  While Columbia is the top rated team in region one, more than a few folks are surprised to see them in Lakeland.  Columbia hosted the district tournament and won, they never had to play on the road in regional play and won by margins of two, one, and five.  Not necessarily skin-of-the-teeth wins but let’s just say they took advantage of the favorable hand given to them.

Our Picks

Bartow over Tarpon Springs East Lake

Fort Lauderdale Dillard over Lake City Columbia

Fort Lauderdale Dillard over Bartow for 6A state title

CLASS 7A

A 3-1 record from Friday’s finals isn’t bad.  We knew picking against Oak Ridge was a risk, but we felt it safer to take Windermere at home.  Ocoee almost caught Sanford Seminole napping on their home floor, but Seminole prevailed in OT.

Best Matchup: All three games in the state’s largest classification should be very good, regardless of who gets to the title game.  In this classification, the top seeded team in each region made it to Lakeland, giving argument that the “new format” worked as intended.

Best Chance for an Upset: The teams in the final four are just too evenly matched for any win to be called an upset.  Hopefully, the games will be as competitive and close as we think they should be.

Our Picks

Miramar over Orlando Oak Ridge

West Palm Beach Forest Hill over Sanford Seminole

West Palm Beach Forest Hill over Miramar for 7A state title