Regional Quarterfinals Previews 7A-5A
HoopMIA is previewing all of the South Florida quarterfinal match-ups. All games will be played Thursday February 20th at 7 pm and the higher seed is hosting. The winning teams will advance to the Regional Semifinals on Tuesday February 25th. Our preview for 7A through 5A is below.
7A Region 4
#1 Miramar Patriots vs #8 Dr.Krop Lightning
Miramar is the favorite in the region, but the region is loaded with quality teams and it will be a battle to reach Lakeland. The Patriots are led by Citadel commit Brent Davis. They have six players averaging over 8 points per game and are loaded with talent. Krop is led by their senior trio of Tyson Civil, Justin Reid, and Deshaun Joseph who all average over 15 points per game. Krop had a surprising district semifinal loss to West Broward, who Miramar went on to dominate in a big 70 to 36 victory in the finals. The Lightning have the size and athleticism to compete with any team and if their guard play performs they are capable of giving Miramar a tremendous challenge. The Patriots have no weaknesses, are extremely battled tested, and will have home court advantage throughout the regional playoffs.
#4 Braddock Bulldogs vs #5 Coral Gables Cavaliers
Braddock knocked off Palmetto to capture the District 16 championship. They were led by an outstanding performance by Andy Chavez who had 34 points in the win. Coral Gables was defeated in the district semifinals by eventual champion Miami High and will probably be without star forward Kuran Bryant who was injured in their last game. The Cavaliers are still filled with talented players like star point guard Desmond Romer and dynamic wing Jimel Lane. The Bulldogs are the biggest underdog in the region as they did not face as tough of a schedule as most of the teams in the region, but with the injury to Bryant and home court advantage Braddock is capable of pulling off a shocking upset. Gables is the clear favorite, but it will be interesting to see if Braddock can carry their momentum into a regional win.
#3 Miami High Stingarees vs #6 Coral Park Rams
These two teams met twice in the regular season and provided two instant classics in both, which were Miami High victories. The first meeting featured a big Miami High comeback which led to a 104 to 99 double OT victory. The second game finished with a foul called on a shot by Miami High star junior Justin Neely, who knocked down two free throws to claim a 68-67 victory. Neely has had a monster season averaging 27.6 points per game, but he is not the only star in this game as the Rams are led by Dade County’s leading scorer Ga’Khari Lacount who is averaging 31 points per contest. The 3rd meeting will be for the highest stakes and looks to be another instant classic in the making. The two teams stars always tend to perform in big games and the game will likely be decided by the Coral Park core of Andrew Lopez, Adrian Salcedo, Jason Don, David Pazo, and Eddie Ramirez against the Stings’ supporting cast of Andre Bynum, Darius Fowler, Taderrius Davis, Bertelson Dorcely, and Antonio Russo. This may be the game of the night in South Florida and will be a can't miss event.
#2 Western Wildcats vs #7 Columbus Explorers
Western captured their district title and the #2 seed in a 56-53 championship game win vs Cypress Bay. Columbus lost in the district championship game vs Miami High, but have been playing their best basketball of the season late in the season. The Wildcats have a patient offensive attack led by Matthew Robinson, Gavin Ostrow, and Garrett Anderson. The Explorers are led by talented wings Reggie Luis, Scottie Middleton, and sharp shooter Hubertas Pivorius. This game will come down to which team is able to control pace and style of play. Western plays at a slow tempo and runs a lot offensive sets in contrast to the Explorers who play at an uptempo freelance style. This game is truly a toss up and it will be interesting if Western having home court advantage will end up being the deciding factor.
7A Region 3
#1 Forest Hill Falcons vs #8 Palm Beach Lakes Rams
Forest Hill is the favorite in 7a state wide. They match up with Palm Beach Lakes and FAU commit Giancarlo Rosado. The Falcons dominated the first two meetings between these teams with 24 and 18 point wins. Forest Hill has five starters (Troy Joseph, Donovan Draper, D’Ante Daniels, Jalen Jeter, and Jonathan Mogbo) averaging over 10 points per game. The Falcons play a relentless uptempo style that tends to overwhelm their opponents. Rosado has been great in both matchups, but the Rams will need a stellar performance from their guards to make this meeting more competitive. Forest Hill has seemingly no weaknesses and it will be a tremendous challenge for anyone to knock them off.
#4 Taravella Trojans vs #5 Wellington Wolverines
Taravella has had a breakout season under new coach Brent Maffet winning the district title against Deerfield Beach. Wellington is a contender once again and they are the highest ranked at large team. This game looks like it will be a battle till the end. The Wolverines’ senior backcourt of De’ante Perez and Jagger Ruiz are battled tested and tough as nails guards. Heralded freshman Marvel Allen has been extremely impressive in his debut campaign for Wellington and looks to be a future star. For the Trojans, Matt Dulce presents a match-up problem for teams with his size and shooting ability. Taravella is a great defensive team that will challenge a crafty Wellington team that can win in multiple ways. This will be one of the top games of the regional quarterfinal rounds.
#3 Park Vista Cobras vs #6 Deerfield Beach Bucks
Park Vista is led by senior guard Erik Pratt, who is having a big time senior season. The Cobras are a talented senior laden team ready to make a run to state. The Bucks have had a great season and lost a heartbreaker to Taravella in the district championship. Deerfield is fast, physical and competes on every possession. Park Vista plays the game with a lot of skill and has a dynamic 5 out attack. Deerfield will look to fluster the Park Vista offensive attack and make them grind for every basket. If the Cobras can control pace and style it will be hard for the Bucks to knock them off.
#2 Dwyer Panthers vs #7 Santaluces Chiefs
Dwyer has a young core that has led the Panthers to a great season. They went 22 and 4 this season. Junior Rodrick Johnson and sophomore Xavier Scott have both had breakout campaigns and are each averaging over 12 points a game to spearhead a well balanced Dwyer offense. Santaluces is led by a senior backcourt of Chance Dixon and Crisnel Francois who are both double digit scorers. This will be a competitive match-up of a senior laden Chiefs’ team trying to extend their season and a young talented Panthers’ squad looking to make its mark. This a Palm Beach battle that will be an intriguing contest that should be competitive to the very end.
6A Region 4
#1 Mater Academy Lions vs #8 Doral Academy Firebirds
Mater is led by possibly the top player in South Florida 6’8 sophomore Malik Reneau, who had 40 points in a district championship win vs South Miami. The two teams split the regular season series, but Doral had the services of star guard Devin Carter, who is out for the season due to shoulder surgery, in those contests. The two teams met with Carter sidelined in the district playoffs and Mater dominated in a 68 to 42 win. It is tough to imagine Doral being able to knock off the Lions in regionals, but if they are able to threaten the Lions it will be due to the play of brother tandem 6’6 junior Kameron Johnson and 6’7 freshman Justin Johnson. Mater will depend on their guards Ryan Sanchez, Michael Bradley, and Isaiah Josue to dictate pace and harass the Doral backcourt. Doral will have to slow the game down to a crawl if they will be able to knock off the Lions.
#4 McArthur Mustangs vs #5 South Miami Cobras
The Mustangs captured a district championship thanks to a tough and gritty group led by senior wing Jordan Howard. They will face a talented and experienced South Miami group that was defeated soundly by Mater Academy and will be looking to rebound and make a run to Lakeland. The Cobras are led by dynamic junior point guard Arturo Dean, scoring senior wing Nick Jacques, and their defensive stalwart senior big man Brandon Sanders. South Miami is the favorite in this match-up despite being on the road and will look to pressure McArthur and force an uptempo game. The Mustangs have the talent to knock off the Cobras, but they must limit turnovers and easy opportunities for the Cobras. Both teams are battled tested thanks to tough schedules and seem ready to challenge for a regional title.
#3 Martin County Tigers vs #6 Fort Lauderdale Flying L’s
Martin County has had a great year. They are district champs and enter the regional playoffs with a 22 and 3 record. They are led by ultra quick guard Jero Brown and sophomore wing Ryan Davis. Fort Lauderdale is led by star wing Jordan Shorter and has a talented supporting cast of quick guards and scorers. This is a great match-up that is sure to be an exciting game. Both teams can put points up in a hurry and have plenty of scoring options. This game is filled with underappreciated prospects like the aforementioned Brown and Fort Lauderdale guards Alex Vertus and Jaylin Bain. Look for this to be one of the most entertaining games in the state on Thursday night.
#2 Dillard Panthers vs #7 North Miami Pioneers
The Dillard Panthers have a powerhouse of a team. 6’8 senior Jalen Haynes is the most talented of the Panthers and is one of the top players in the state. Chandler Mack is a skilled and hard nosed guard that leads the Dillard attack. Ivan Reynolds is a talented senior wing that scores in bunches and plays above the rim. Dillard is poised to capture another state title and they will host a North Miami team that enters the game as a heavy underdog due to the uncertainty around their squad. Star guard Carlos Hart did not play in the district tournament for the Pioneers and without him it is hard to envision North Miami being able to knock off Dillard. Ronaldo Vescine and Vee’lesk Avin are talented guards that can light it up from the outside for North Miami and if Hart is unavailable it will take a super effort from that backcourt duo to make the game competitive.
5A Region 4
#1 Northeast Hurricanes vs #8 American Heritage Patriots
American Heritage captured the last playoff spot in Raja Bell’s first season as the Patriots head coach. They will face an absolutely loaded Northeast squad in the first round of the regional playoffs. The Hurricanes have great length, speed, and athleticism. 6’9 freshmen twins Matthew and Ryan Bewley are national prospects that give Northeast an imposing frontline. The backcourt is headlined by lead guard and national recruit Wesley Cardet and also features talented guards Tyrecke Francois, Jameon Harris, and Jermaine Dyges. The Patriots are overmatched in this game and it would be a shocking upset if this game was competitive late. Northeast seems to be headed for yet another contest with Pines Charter in what would be a match-up of two top 10 teams in the state regardless of classification.
#4 Northwestern Bulls vs #5 Pembroke Pines Charter Jaguars
Northwestern had a great run in the district playoffs that led to them capturing the championship in an impressive 50 to 40 win versus Belen Jesuit. Pines Charter fell to Northeast 65 to 63 in the district finals. Pines Charter seems to be on a collision course for a rematch with Northeast in the next round as they are the two top ranked teams in the state in 5a. The Jaguars are led by Nova Southeastern commit Dallas Graziani, who is a great scorer and maybe the best shooter in Florida. Javen Smith, Osei Price, and Amarachi Ujagbor are all college prospects and give Pines Charter one of the most talented teams in Florida. This is a David vs Goliath match-up and despite the Bulls hosting it will be a monumental task for them to knock off Pines Charter.
#3 Norland Vikings vs #6 Boyd Anderson Cobras
This is a great regional quarterfinal contest. Norland is playing their best basketball at the right time of the season and looks poised for a playoff run. Boyd Anderson is talented, battle tested thanks to a brutal district, and ready to challenge for a regional championship. The Vikings are led by senior guard Jahvon Smith and talented sophomore wing Cameron Johnson. The Cobras have a dynamic backcourt with seniors Kemari Brown, Caleb Gordon, and Martin Mercedes. Senior big man and FIU football commit Rivaldo Fairweather controls the paint for Boyd Anderson. This game will probably come down to which team protects the basketball and makes open shots and free throws. Norland has home court advantage for this game and it will be interesting to see they can carry that over to a playoff victory.
#2 Okeechobee Brahmans vs #7 Belen Jesuit Wolverines
Okeechobee has had a great season with 24 wins 2 losses and a district championship. They are a talented group with an extremely well rounded offense. They have eight players that have scored over 100 points this season. Belen has a competitive and tough group that suffered an injury to their junior point guard David Fernandez that was a big factor in them losing the district championship to Northwestern. Freshman Danny Fernandez, David’s younger brother, is a knockdown shooter and senior Josh Cecol is a presence in the paint. The teams have not seen each other throughout the regular season and it is a far trip for Belen for a quarterfinal match-up. The first quarter of the game will likely be a feeling out process due to the uncertainty, but it is hard to envision Belen advancing without their point guard against an Okeechobee that has had a phenomenal year.