By: Wells Dusenbury
8A: Jupiter @ Deerfield Beach
Neither of their first two playoff wins have been pretty, but the Warriors have emerged unscathed as the only local 8A team still alive in the postseason. While Park Vista and Wellington are both solid teams, Jupiter will have its work cut our for them on Saturday night at Deerfield Beach.
The Bucks are arguably one of the top teams in 8A and pose a serious threat to Jupiter. Last year, Deerfield Beach was denied a berth in the state Final Four by another Palm Beach County team, Spanish River, in the Regional Finals.
Once again, Deerfield has another athletic squad that could cause problems for the Warriors. If big man Grant Pelchen, an FAU signee, can keep the Bucks' guards out of the paint and Jupiter's perimeter players are knocking down open looks, then the Warriors could pull the upset and make their first trip to the Final Four since 2000.
7A: Palm Beach Lakes @ Blanche-Ely
After grinding out a tough one with Royal Palm Beach in the Regional Semifinals, Palm Beach Lakes is just one win away from Lakeland. Much like Jupiter though, the Rams will have to head south to take on one of the state's best teams in Blanche Ely.
The Tigers have won 14 straight fames and are ranked 13th in the country by MaxPreps. Palm Beach Lakes though has he right squad to match up against Ely.
With a group of quick, athletic guards in Quincy Rideau, J.D. Coleman and Kamil Williams, the Rams can get up and down the floor with anybody. Senior center Maxwell Caines ability to run the floor and knock down the outside jumper gives them an added level of versatility. If they can get out and run, Palm Beach Lakes will have a good chance in this one.
7A: St. Petersburg @ Martin County
One point. That's all that came between Martin County and a trip to Lakeland a year ago. The Tigers were denied their first Final Four berth since 1987 with a devastating last-second 77-76 loss at St. Petersburg.
This year, the Tigers are back in the Regional Finals, and as luck would have it, they get another crack against the team that ended their season last year.
On Saturday though, the Tigers get the Green Devils at home. Martin County head coach John Leon says that loss really stuck with this group throughout he season and how they're ready to exact revenge on St. Petersburg. With the way standout guard Jermohn Queen and the rest of the offense is playing, the Tigers have a great chance at making it to Lakeland.
4A: Berkeley Prep @ St. Andrew's
St. Andrew's is probably the most under-the-radar team left in the postseason. The Scots have quietly put together another 20 win season under John O'Connell and are just one win away from their first Final Four berth since 2006, the year they made it all the way to the State Title game.
This season's senior-laden squad may be the best one St. Andrew's has ever had. With eight seniors on the roster, the Scots are a battle tested group with the potential to make a deep postseason run. While the Scots usually run a four-guard offense, the x-factor will be the health of big man Asil Kalkavan. The senior went down late in the Scots' Regional Semifinal win over Bishop Verot with an ankle injury and is questionable for Saturday.
If Kalkavan is out, 6-4 sophomore Jake Bargas, who replaced Kalkavan late in the Verot win, will have to step up if the Scots want to continue their dream season.
2A: Naples-First Baptist @ Grandview Prep
Over the past six seasons, Grandview has been a pillar of consistency in Palm Beach County. The Pride have made it to six straight Final Fours and have put together another stellar guard. Senior guard Ivan Canete is playing as well as any other player in the area and has carried the Pride at point with his dynamic versatility.
Grandview is hardly a one-man squad though. Sean Walsh has really emerged as an explosive number two scorer and big men Windale Glinton and Alex Jones provide the Pride with a legitimate inside presence. The Pride got an additional boost with talented senior guard Eric Mance back in the line-up. Bottom line, Grandview looks well on its way to making its 7th consecutive trip to Lakeland.
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There are no games scheduled for today.