Posted: 3:09 pm Friday, February 21st, 2014

Boys hoops: Inside the regional finals 

By Jodie Wagner

After the dust settled from Tuesday’s boys hoops regional semifinals action, just two teams from our area remain alive in post-season competition.

Grandview Prep in Class 2A and John I. Leonard in Class 8A both won their semifinals games Tuesday, with the Pride defeating Hialeah-Champagnat 54-51 and the Lancers getting by district rival Spanish River 54-49.

Both teams need one more win to advance to the FHSAA Florida State Championships, which begin next week in Lakeland.

Grandview Prep (23-5), which is seeking its eight straight trip to the state championships and second straight state title, hosts Miami-Calusa Prep tonight, while the Lancers, who have never been to the state tournament, host Coral Springs Saturday. Both games start at 7 p.m.

The Pride has played well down the stretch, having won 13-of-14 games while keeping opposing offenses in check.

“A big staple is our defense,” Pride coach Joe Dawson said. “If we can really defend the other team, we’ve got guys that can score. That’s our big thing right now. Early on in the season we were giving up way too many points. Now we’re settling down and we’re keeping them in the 40s and 50s, which is what we like.”

Offensively, the Pride will be led by junior guards Jamal Palmer, who averages 23 points per game, and Jordan Coblin, who contributes 17.

John I. Leonard (16-12) is coming off a huge win against Spanish River Tuesday and hopes for a similar result against Coral Springs Saturday.

The teams match up similarly, Lancers coach Jim Howell said, as both rely on athleticism and good ball movement.

“They’re a lot like us,” Howell said of the Colts (20-6), who beat Parkland-Douglas 56-44 in the regional semifinals. “Watching them was kind of like watching us a little bit. They’re real athletic, real aggressive. We’re going to have to match their intensity level.”

The key for Leonard tomorrow night will be taking care of the basketball, Howell said.

The Lancers were able to avoid costly turnovers against the Sharks on Tuesday, and will need to continue playing smart basketball against Coral Springs.

“We’ve got to limit our turnovers, because they’ll feed off turnovers,” he said of the Colts. “I think we’ve got to take care of the basketball. Rebounding also … is going to be a must for us.”