Posted: 6:20 pm Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011
By Jeff Greer
No Palm Beach County or Treasure Coast team has won a state basketball title since Dwyer won in 2005. Is this the year that will change? There are five area schools left in the boys’ basketball playoffs, and they’re just one win away from a trip to Lakeland for the state semifinals.
Atlantic, Dwyer, Fort Pierce Central, Grandview Prep and Summit Christian are all still fighting in their respective class championships. There is some history in the making, as Atlantic has reached the regional finals for the first time in school history (although Seacrest High School, the original all-white high school before it desegregated and combined with Carver High, finished second in the state in 1956).
Meanwhile Dwyer, Fort Pierce Central, Grandview and Summit are all back in familiar spots. While Dwyer has a different regional-final opponent from last year (this year the Panthers host Melbourne-Palm Bay), the other three schools are playing rematches from last year’s regional finals. Fort Pierce Central lost to Fort Lauderdale-Cardinal Gibbons by three points last season. Grandview beat Miami-Champagnat by 16 and Summit beat Naples-Seacrest Country Day by 17 last year.
All regional finals tip off at 7 p.m. on Saturday
Here’s what we know about Saturday’s regional finals …
Still standing: DeLand, Winter Park, Hialeah-Miami Lakes, Miami-Christopher Columbus, Orlando-Dr. Phillips, Tampa-Wharton, Atlantic and Miramar.
Winter Park is ranked No. 18 in the nation by ESPN Rise, one spot ahead of Dwyer. Duke-bound Austin Rivers, one of the top-rated recruits in the nation, has two other Division I prospects for teammates, making Winter Park the favorite in 6A. Winter Park beat Dr. Phillips in last year’s championship game.
Atlantic at Miramar. Since Seacrest and Carver merged to make Atlantic, the Eagles have only made the playoffs six times. They’d only won one playoff game until this year, but they are coached by Brad Flaig, who took Boynton Beach to the state championship game in 2003. Miramar has been to the playoffs five years in a row, and this is the second consecutive season that it has reached the regional finals. Boyd Anderson, which Atlantic beat in the regional quarters this year, beat Miramar in 2010 by one point to advance to the state semifinals.
Stars to Watch: G Marquale Thomas (11.3 ppg) is the team leader and Atlantic’s best perimeter scorer. F/C Richarson Myrthil (10.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg) has been huge in the paint for the Eagles, and he’s had solid help from F Estilus Lahens (9.8 ppg) and his lengthy wingspan.
How They Got Here: Defeated Boyd Anderson 43-40 and Santaluces 63-52.
Stars to Watch: F Lorel Beckford (19 points and 16 rebounds) and Luis Denolis (16 points) were big in Miramar’s regional semifinal.
How They Got Here: Defeated Davie-Western 59-37 and South Plantation 65-60.
Still standing: Fort Walton Beach, Jacksonville-Wolfson, Melbourne-Palm Bay, Dwyer, Lake Wales, Plant-Durant, Tampa-Chamberlain and St. Petersburg-Gibbs.
Dwyer’s one of the top high school teams in the nation and the Panthers are the favorite to win the state title. Of the eight teams left, only Dwyer and Gibbs even made the regional semis last year. Defending champs Bartow didn’t even make the playoffs, and Tampa-Sickles, the runner-up, lost in the regional semis.
Palm Bay at Dwyer. Palm Bay travels to Dwyer in a matchup of relative newcomers vs. grizzled vets. Palm Bay made the regional quarters last year, but prior to that, it made the playoffs just four times since 1985. Meanwhile Dwyer has some of the most storied history in the state in the playoffs. The Panthers haven’t missed the playoffs since 2000, and they’ve won two state titles (2004, 2005) under coach Fred Ross.
Stars to Watch: G Jacoby Brissett (14.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg) is the Panthers’ best penetrating guard and he’s their top scoring threat. F Greg Louis (13.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg) is the glue guy. G Vic Adams (16.1 ppg) is a gunner from distance and can fill it up in a hurry. And 6-10 C Joel James (8 ppg) and G/F Terrell Harris (11.5 ppg) are also starters and key players.
How They Got Here: Defeated Oakland Park-Northeast 78-54 and Fort Lauderdale-Dillard 81-54.
Stars to Watch: Steven Hughes (20 points) scored nine overtime points in Palm Bay’s big win over Martin County.
How They Got Here: Defeated Sebastian River 77-58 and Martin County 81-73.
Still standing: Panama City-Rutherford, Palatka, Fort Pierce Central, Fort Lauderdale-Cardinal Gibbons, Leesburg, Brooksville-Nature Coast Technical, Tampa-Blake and Fort Myers.
Three of last year’s four semifinalists are still alive, including state champ Fort Myers, along with Cardinal Gibbons and Rutherford. Fort Myers has to be the favorite until it loses.
Fort Pierce Central at Cardinal Gibbons. In last year’s meeting, Cardinal Gibbons just outlasted Fort Pierce Central 50-47. The Cobras have never made it to the state semis before, while Cardinal Gibbons has been to the regional finals 10 times since 1994. Gibbons has won only three times in those trips.
Fort Pierce Central
Stars to Watch: Akeem Johnson (13.4 ppg), Giorgio Newberry (9 rpg) and Mikenson Deroche (8.2 rpg) are the key players for the Cobras. Johnson has scored 39 points in the two playoff games.
How They Got Here: Defeated Palm Bay-Heritage 63-47 and Titusville-Astronaut 46-42.
Stars to Watch: They may have graduated La Salle freshman Sam Mills, but Gibbons still has Hashim Moore. Moore had 15 points and eight boards against Miami-Norland.
How They Got Here: Defeated Miami-Belen Jesuit 56-34 and Miami-Norland 37-34.
Still standing: Tallahassee-FAMU, Lecanto-Seven Rivers Christian, Grandview Prep, Hialeah-Champagnat, Orlando Christian Prep, Bradenton Christian, Naples-Seacreast Country Day and Summit Christian.
You might notice the absence of state-championship regular Arlington Country Day, Jacksonville’s powerhouse that won five consecutive state titles from 2005-09 before leaving the FHSAA before the 2010-11 season. Orlando Christian Prep beat Arlington Country Day last year, ending ACD’s title run, and now OCP is the reigning champ (and favorite) in this year’s Class 1A tournament. But don’t sleep Palm Beach County powers Grandview Prep and Summit Christian. Both were state semifinalists last year and may be even better than they were a year ago.
Champagnat at Grandview Prep. The first of two rematches in the area. Grandview beat Champagnat 62-46 last year, and Eric Peterson played a huge role in that win for the Pride. He’s not there anymore, but Grandview has a slew of young guards to continue its quick offensive attack. Oh, and there’s 6-9 center Ismaila Dauda. There’s enough depth that coach Joe Dawson calls this year’s team his most talented bunch yet, and that’s saying something. Dawson has taken two Grandview teams to the state finals.
Stars to Watch: C Ismaila Dauda (19.6 ppg, 14.4 rpg) is the go-to guy. G Daniel Garga (31 points in the regional semis), G Eric Mance (14.4 ppg) and G Ivan Canete (15 ppg in two playoff games) have all emerged as big-time scorers at different times, along with eighth-grader Kamil Williams (10.5 ppg).
How They Got Here: Defeated Miramar-Florida Bible 80-38 and Lake Worth Christian 67-55.
How They Got Here: Defeated Miami Christian 64-50 and Miami-Calusa Prep 73-72.
Seacrest Country Day at Summit Christian. Summit won this game 58-41 last year, but it took a fourth-quarter run to make the score so lopsided. Seacrest led by one to start the fourth. Farad Cobb had 18 points for Summit in that game, and Jean Prophete had 10. They’ll be the go-to scorers for Summit this time around.
Stars to Watch: 6-5 F Jean Prophete (18.8 ppg, 12.6 rpg) and G Farad Cobb (22.3 ppg) are the leaders of the Saints. G Kadeem Robinson (7.0 apg) is Summit’s distributor, and 6-8 F Brandon Williams (10.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg) poses a major matchup problem.
How They Got Here: Defeated West Melbourne-Brevard Christian 78-47 and Berean Christian 69-42.
Seacrest Country Day
Stars to Watch: F Jeff Merton (13 points, 14 rebounds in regional semis) is the leader for SCD, even as a freshman.
How They Got Here: Defeated Tampa-Carrollwood Day 68-36 and Tampa-Cambridge Christian 51-49.