Posted: 5:27 pm Monday, February 20th, 2012

Familiar names mix with newcomers in boys’ basketball region semifinals 

By Jeff Greer

Tuesday’s region semifinals have every kind of matchup a hoops fan could want.

Ethan Goldman and Spanish River have a tough road game Tuesday.

In the largest class, Spanish River meets John I. Leonard in a battle of new kids on the block. Both teams are making the second playoff appearance in school history. Neither has advanced past the region final. It’s also the fourth game between the two, with Leonard sweeping the two games at River, and River beating Leonard in Greenacres, where they’ll play Tuesday night. Jensen Beach got its first playoff win in school history on Thursday, and has a shot at extending its historic run at home against Plantation-American Heritage in the 5A region semis.

In 7A, Atlantic reached the region final last season, and is a win away from getting there again, despite graduating most of its key players from last year. Palm Beach Lakes is back after a few years away from its rich playoff history. Martin County is no stranger to this stage, either, and Port St. Lucie has two state tournament trips under its belt.

Down in 4A, St. Andrew’s can take one step closer to its third state tournament appearance with a win over Fort Myers-Bishop Verot, which has been to three consecutive region finals. Benjamin in 3A is no stranger to region semifinals — the Bucs were there just last year. And, of course, the zillionth rematch between Lake Worth Christian and Grandview Prep is on tap in 2A.

The schedule
All games are Tuesday night at 7 p.m. Admission is $7.

Class 8A
Spanish River at John I. Leonard

Class 7A
Port St. Lucie at Martin County
Atlantic at Palm Beach Lakes

Class 5A
Plantation-American Heritage at Jensen Beach

Class 4A
St. Andrew’s at Fort Myers-Bishop Verot

Class 3A
Benjamin at Fort Myers-Evangelical Christian

Class 2A
Lake Worth Christian at Grandview Prep

Let’s start with these ridiculous rematches. River and Leonard will play a fourth time; Atlantic and Lakes a third. Port St. Lucie and Martin County have already tangled three times this season. And Lake Worth Christian will try to beat Grandview Prep after losing the first affairs by 12 points each.

For the big schools … River beats Leonard by three. I’ll pick Lakes over Atlantic by seven in a high-scoring contest. I like Martin County to cruise by 15 over Port St. Lucie. And sticking with the home-team in 5A, let’s say Jensen Beach beats a very good Plantation-American Heritage by two.

With the little guys, I think St. Andrew’s survives and edges Bishop Verot by four. I’m picking Benjamin on the road by five over Evangelical Christian. And, as much as I like Lake Worth Christian, Grandview Prep rings ‘em up again, this time by eight.