The Prep Zone Insider – Boys Basketball Regional Playoffs begin

Marty PallmanMarty Pallman
Twitter – @mpallman

Regional playoffs begin on Thursday night for boys basketball around the state of Florida, and in The Prep Zone listening and viewing area. These will be regional quarterfinal game in classes 5A-9A and regional semifinal in 1A-4A. Here are the matchups involving teams in the Prep Zone area with previews for assorted games:

Regional Quarterfinals

Class 9A
Seminole (Sanford) (21-6) at Flagler Palm Coast (16-11)
DeLand (17-10) at Oviedo (19-7)

Class 8A
Buchholz (Gainesville) (15-14) at Lee (Jacksonville) (16-7) – Buchholz returns to the regional playoffs after missing out last season. The Bobcats won the district title in 2015 but were eliminated in the opening round by Wekiva (Apopka). In 2014 Bob Horodyski’s Bobcats traveled to Oviedo and were knocked out in the regional quarterfinal round as well. Buchholz hasn’t won a playoff game since 2009, when the Bobcats advanced to the regional final but were ousted by Winter Park and Austin Rivers. Buchholz was the #2 seed in the 8A-4 district tourney, and knocked off Bartram Trail (St. Johns) in the semifinals but were beaten by the #1 seed Creekside (St. Johns) 54-41 in the championship game. The Bobcats are led by sophomore Trent Whittemore, who averaged 32 points a game in one three game stretch earlier this season. Lee is in the regional playoffs for the first time since 2010. The Generals were down as many as 29 points early in the 8A-3 district tourney final against Atlantic Coast (Jacksonville), but rallied to force overtime and held on 85-82 to clinch the home game. Sedarious Aaron led the comeback with 34 points, and leads four Lee players in double figures averaging 17 a game. Aaron is helped by Bernard Thomas (14.8 PPG), Samuel Ricks (11.1 PPG), and Koree Carr (10.5 PPG). If Buchholz wins, they would travel to Creekside or Atlantic Coast in next Tuesday’s regional semifinals. If Lee wins, they would host Atlantic Coast or travel to Creekside. This game will air with streaming live video on ThePrepZone.com via the NFHS Network and will also be on radio on Florida Sports Talk The Team WMOP AM 900/FM 100.1 in Ocala and WGGG AM 1230/FM 92.1 in Gainesville.

Atlantic Coast (Jacksonville) (11-15) at Creekside (St. Johns) (24-3)
East Ridge (Clermont) (17-9) at Melbourne (22-5)

Class 7A
Gainesville (24-3) at Englewood (Jacksonville) (17-9) – The Purple Hurricanes have to hit the road for their regional playoff opener after having their 16 game losing streak end at home last week to Vanguard (Ocala) 64-57 in overtime in the 7A-4 district championship game. That ended a streak of three straight district titles for Kelly Beckham’s bunch, but they are in the regional playoffs for the sixth consecutive season, and have advanced to at least the regional semifinals eight straight years. Gainesville also has three state semifinal appearances since Beckham took over in 2008, with a state title in 2009 and state runner-up two seasons ago. Last year the Purple Hurricanes were knocked out 45-39 in the regional final round at Pensacola. Junior Christian Miller-Cardwell and senior Isaiah Wilson are the double-figure scorers for a balanced Gainesville attack. Two of Gainesville’s three losses this season are to Vanguard, and they hope to get another shot at the Knights in the regional semifinals next Tuesday. Englewood clinched it’s first district title since 2000 with a win at St. Augustine last week in the 7A-3 district championship game. The Rams are are also back in the regional playoffs for the first time in nine years. Englewood is a young team, but does own wins over Lee and Terry Parker (Jacksonville) down the stretch. Their only senior is double figures is Devonte Render at 11.8 PPG. Junior Jalen Stevens leads the Rams in scoring at 12.7 per game. Gainesville would travel to Vanguard or St. Augustine next week in the regional semifinals, while Englewood would host St. Augustine or travel to Vanguard.

St. Augustine (16-11) at Vanguard (Ocala) (21-6) – The Knights open the playoffs at home after getting a lot of monkeys off their back with last Friday’s district tourney championship win at Gainesville. It was the first district title for Vanguard since Jim Haley was still roaming the sidelines back in 2003. Coach Phillip Small’s Knights also won their first game at the Purple Palace since 2006 and ended Gainesville’s 16 game winning streak overall by holding off a late charge by the Purple Hurricanes last Friday, including a desperation three-point shot by Christian Miller-Cardwell that forced overtime. Vanguard saw this St. Augustine team in the regional quarterfinal round last season, winning on the road 56-48. The Yellow Jackets are led by guard Ryan Burkhart, who averages almost 17 points a game. The Knights lost point guard Phillip Ortiz for the season back in late December, but senior Quez Clayton has more than picked up the slack, averaging 15 points and 6 rebounds a game. Devontae Bynes averages 12 points a game, and scored 22 points, including seven three-pointers, in the win over Gainesville. Vanguard hasn’t advanced to the state semifinals since 1982, when the Knights captured their third and final state title under Haley. This team with nine seniors could see a fourth meeting with Gainesville next Tuesday if they take care of business at St. Augustine and Gainesville wins at Englewood.

Auburndale (17-10) at Deltona (15-10)
Atlantic (Port Orange) (24-4) at Edgewater (Orlando) (19-8)

Class 6A
Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (14-8) at Ribault (Jacksonville) (22-6)
Terry Parker (Jacksonville) (21-3) at Orange Park (13-13)

Eastside (Gainesville) (11-13) at Palatka (19-8) – The Rams are hitting the road after dropping the 6A-6 district title game at Santa Fe (Alachua). It’s been an uneven season for Pop Williams Rams, but they were able to gain the #1 seed in the district and advanced through the district semis and into the regional playoffs with a win over Dunnellon last week. This is the fifth consecutive trip to the regional playoffs for Eastside, and they have made 13 trips to the postseason with four state semifinals trips under Williams, the last coming in 2014, and the Rams won the 5A state title in 2006. Eastside has lost five games in a row to Palatka, who is hosting this game after winning the 6A-5 district title as a #3 seed, knocking off #5 seed Matanzas (Palm Coast) in the championship game. Palatka is in the regional playoffs for the fourth straight year, and have won five in a row and are 12-2 since the beginning of the year under first-year coach Bryant Oxendine. If Eastside wins, they would travel to Santa Fe or Matanzas next Tuesday, while Palatka would host Matanzas or travel to Santa Fe.

Matanzas (Palm Coast) (13-14) at Santa Fe (Alachua) (17-10) – Santa Fe won it’s second straight district title with a win over Eastside last week, and is in the regional playoffs for the third straight year. Last year Santa Fe was knocked out in the regional semifinals at Ponte Vedra. Senior guard Tarod Goodman had 13 points last week in the district title win. This is the first meeting between Santa Fe and Matanzas, and the Pirates first regional playoff appearance since 2011. Matanzas knocked off top-seed Ponte Vedra last week in the 6A-5 semifinals but were knocked off on the road in their district title game at Palatka.

Ridgewood (New Port Richey) (18-10) at Central (Brooksville) (19-9)
Nature Coast (Brooksville) (25-1) at Zephyrhills (17-9)
Rockledge (21-6) at Leesburg (18-6)

Class 5A
Interlachen (14-13) at Raines (Jacksonville) (18-9)
Jackson (Jacksonville) (15-10) at Bradford (Starke) (12-14)
Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (14-13) at Windermere Prep (18-9)
Master’s Academy (Oviedo) (19-8) at The Villages (25-2)

Regional Semifinals

Class 4A
Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) (15-11) at P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) (18-7) – The Blue Wave are in their third consecutive regional playoffs in their fourth season under head coach Billy Blackmon. P.K. Yonge was eliminated by First Academy (Orlando) in last year’s regional semifinal and lost a heartbreaker in the same round in 2015 at Trinity Catholic (Ocala). With the addition of Class 9A, P.K. Yonge will now only need to win two games to advance to the 4A state semifinals in Lakeland. The Blue Wave were the top seed in District 1-4A, and defeated Maclay (Tallahassee) last Friday 78-63 to win their third straight district title. P.K. Yonge pulled away from a 30-30 halftime tie led by sophomore Byron Smith, who scored ten of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. Freshman Jalen Speer led the Blue Wave with 24 points, 14 of those in the first half for P.K. Yonge. This is the first meeting between P.K. Yonge and Bishop Snyder, who is in the regional playoffs time since 2010. If P.K. Yonge wins, they would host Maclay (Tallahassee) or travel to Providence (Jacksonville) next Tuesday in the 4A regional finals.

Maclay (Tallahassee) (15-12) at Providence (Jacksonville) (22-5)

Class 3A
St. Francis (Gainesville) (17-7) at Pensacola Christian (22-5)
FAMU (Tallahassee) (14-13) at Trinity Christian (Deltona) (19-8)

Class 2A
Christ’s Church (Jacksonville) (20-9) at Aucilla Christian (Monticello) (8-11)
Tallavana Christian (Havana) (4-15) at Temple Christian (Jacksonville) (23-3)
St. John Lutheran (Ocala) (16-11) at North Florida Educational (Jacksonville) (16-8)
Harvest Community (Jacksonville) (11-16) at Bayshore Christian (Tampa) (19-3)

Class 1A
Crescent City (10-13) at Dixie County (Cross City) (17-8)
Bell (22-4) at Wildwood (22-3)

Hamilton County (Jasper) (16-9) at Hawthorne (22-5) – This is the sixth straight matchup in the regional playoffs for these two teams in what has become a classic rivalry. The teams have also met four times in the regional final, with Hamilton County winning in Jasper last year 61-60. Hawthorne has won three of the past five meetings, and had three state semifinal appearances in five years, playing for the 1A state title in 2012 and 2015. The Hornets have also made seven straight regional appearances, have won six consecutive district titles, and have won at least their opening game the last five years. With a win, Hawthorne would host Madison County or Newberry in next Tuesday’s regional final while Hamilton County would host Newberry or travel to Madison County.

Newberry (13-13) at Madison County (21-4) – Newberry advanced to the 1A-6 district championship game as a #3 seed last week, knocking off second-seed Williston before before dropping the title game to Hawthorne. Now the Panthers have to hit the road to play the top-ranked team in the state in 1A according to FABC/Source Hoops, Madison County. This is the second straight regional playoff apperance for the Panthers, but Newberry hasn’t won a playoff game since 2004. Newberry was knocked out in the opening round a year ago at Hamilton County, and is led by FSU football signee Cory Durden with a little over 17 PPG. Madison County has never advanced to the state semifinals in boys basketball.