Posted: 5:54 pm Monday, February 4th, 2013
By Jeff Greer
Which characteristics make or break a team’s chances of a playoff run?
If it’s dominant wing play, Suncoast and Atlantic look very good. A steady point guard? Royal Palm Beach and St. Andrew’s have that setup. Well-balanced lineups with spread-out scoring? Jupiter, Wellington and Palm Beach Lakes have that. Or is it all about star power? Grandview Prep and Lake Worth would be your teams.
Entering district playoffs, Palm Beach County possesses 12 or 13 teams capable of deep postseason runs. Whether they break from the pack or not, they have to get through every head coaches’ nightmare: trap games against district rivals. You can see the entire district playoff schedule here.
Before the win-or-go-home fun, let’s break down the Post Top 10, which didn’t change from last week’s poll. Cardinal Newman made a strong case, yet again, for a ranking, as did Spanish River. Benjamin also re-entered the picture. But you can’t drop Atlantic or Lake Worth for losing to Jupiter. And you can’t penalize Grandview Prep for a loss this week.
Here’s the last ranking for the 2012-13 season. The playoffs will take care of the true rankings from here on out.
Final 2012-13 Top 10
1. Grandview Prep (23-2)
2. Summit Christian (19-5)
3. Palm Beach Lakes (21-3)
4. Jupiter (16-5)
5. Atlantic (19-6)
6. Lake Worth (21-4)
7. St. Andrew’s (18-3)
8. Suncoast (21-4)
9. Wellington (18-7)
10. Royal Palm Beach (17-5)
Also considered: Cardinal Newman, Spanish River, Benjamin. Best of the Treasure Coast: Martin County, Treasure Coast, Jensen Beach.
I’m a stats guy. Soak these up.
Grandview Prep guard Ivan Canete finished one of the best regular seasons in recent memory. Remember when I left him off the preseason watch list because he didn’t play enough last season? I’m a comedian, I swear. In 25 games this year, Canete’s stat line is unbelievable: 24.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. He’s not always the primary ball handler for Grandview, which is a guard-heavy team, but he certainly has it in his hands in key moments. He’s taken 23 percent of Grandview’s shots, but he’s efficient: Canete accounts for 30 percent of the Pride’s scoring. His 3.9-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio would normally stick out as his most impressive stat (at least to me), until you see his shooting percentages. Get this: 69 percent on all field goals, 75 percent from 2, 47 from 3. Unreal.
Few teams rose as quickly as Summit Christian. I started the Saints high in the rankings. I dropped them just as fast. They struggled early on, and I kept a wait-and-see tag on them after they beat Lakes. But Summit just keeps on chugging, up to 19-5 with the postseason starting. Shane Phillips (6-3), Josue Levy (6-3) and Richard Gaetano (6-1) give the Saints a good-sized trio of skill players, and that’s hard to match at the high school level.
Some good numbers from Palm Beach Lakes: The Rams average 24 baskets a game. Sixteen of those 24 baskets are assisted. That shows how good of a passing team Lakes is, and throw in that six players average five or more points, and you can see why Lakes is still considered the best large school team in the area. Lorenzo Hands’s bunch spreads the ball, forces turnovers (12 steals a game) and runs the floor as a unit. Royal Palm Beach nipped them two weeks ago, but Lakes is still the 13-7A favorite.
Fourth-ranked Jupiter found its spark late in the season in 6-4 wing Mike Edgley. Sure, he’s been steady all season, scoring 14 points a game and leading Jupiter in points. But lately Edgley elevated his game a bit. The past three contests, he’s scored 20.6 points per contest. He’s the same aggressive rim-attacker he’s always been. Now he shoots the 3 a bit more comfortably. He got 34 points against Lake Worth last week, stretching Lake Worth’s defense with some baseline jumpers and three 3s, then sliced through the openings for layups and floaters. If he plays like that in the postseason, Jupiter can make a deep, deep run.
If you really want to try to pick between Atlantic and Lake Worth, good luck. Both teams leave a lot to be desired, but bring a ton of good stuff to the table. The talent is eye-catching.
Atlantic’s a bit deeper than Lake Worth. Thomas Owens (13.3 points a game) and Jamal Palmer (19.8) get a ton of points in transition. Their roles in halfcourt sets generally change to perimeter shooters. Earlier this season that concerned me. I didn’t think Atlantic attacked enough to break down defenses, and the missed 3s led to run-outs and easy baskets on the other end. Late in the season, revisit Atlantic’s stat line. LaTron Nelson’s become the team’s inside X-factor, going for 10 and six a game. He’s always been a solid player, but he’s improved with the season. Josh Strainge, a devastating shooter, gets nine points a game now. Adding him to the formula of scorers gives Atlantic some oomph on offense. Still, the Eagles have to do better than 54 percent from the foul line. That’s how you lose in the playoffs.Lake Worth scores. A lot. Second-highest scoring team in the county behind Suncoast. More on the Chargers in a minute. I love Jerry Oliver and Eno Pierre-Louis scoring interior buckets for the Trojans. Craig Dukes can gun from 3. Aaron Horne (19.1 points a game) has the tendency to float in and out of games. Engaged, Horne is a dynamic scorer. Unplugged, though, and Lake Worth struggles a bit. The Trojans don’t get too deep on their bench, and their man-to-man defense struggled a times against Jupiter last week, but when clicking, Lake Worth is a serious threat.
Wellington gets some nice, balanced scoring. Dondre Duffus has emerged as a Player of the Year candidate, with 15.2 points, 4.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds a game from the lead guard position. He’s a high-volume shooter, but he still shoots a respectable 44 percent from the field, and 43 percent from 3. Stephon Gordon is an explosive athlete who scores 14 points and grabs seven rebounds a game. Alex Peavler’s shooting 47 percent from 3 — and he’s taken more than 100. This is a team that can go toe-to-toe with Jupiter, but the Wolverines need an answer for Edgley if (and when) they meet again.
At the 5A level, Suncoast looks like its old, old self with a high-octane offense. The Chargers’ trio of LaTerence Butts, Jonathan Odjo and Santigie Fornah score more than 35 points a game, but there’s an interesting pair of stats from Suncoast that you probably haven’t seen before. Suncoast does a lot of work on offense inside the arc — only 22 percent of the Chargers attempted shots are from 3. But they’re shooting at a 61-percent clip from 2. Not bad. But there’s another stat that worries a handicapper: Suncoast has more turnovers than assists this season.
We broke down Royal Palm‘s late-season surge in today’s newspaper. Here’s more on the Wildcats.
St. Andrew’s is still the 4A area team to beat, but Cardinal Newman looked pretty good to me on Friday night. I love the versatility of sophomore Andrew Owers, who handled the point and moved off the ball interchangeably on Friday. Travis Rudolph, one of the area’s top Class of 2014 football prospects, is coach Tavarus Harris’s top defensive stopper. And sophomore big guy John Collins has come on in the second half of the season to be the team’s top inside guy.