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Boys basketball district tournament preview

Class 8A-District 7

at Alonso

OUTLOOK: Plant’s lone loss in district play was to Wharton, the defending region champion and a 2013 state semifinalist. Wharton, at one point, was ranked third in the 8A poll, but suffered a four-game losing streak during the final weeks of the season. Bloomingdale, which split with Wharton, is seeking its first region appearance since 2007.

SCHEDULE: Tuesday: Riverview (6) vs. Bloomingdale (3), 5 p.m.; Alonso (5) vs. Newsome (4), 7 p.m. Wednesday: Bloomingdale-Riverview winner vs. Wharton (2), 5 p.m.; Newsome-Alonso winner vs. Plant (1), 7 p.m. Friday: Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.

Class 7A-District 7

at Brandon

OUTLOOK: Strawberry Crest won a coin flip to enter the tournament with the top seed over East Bay. Strawberry Crest and East Bay split during the regular season and have been led by dynamic point guards, Malik Channer and Jon Jean. East Bay and Brandon battled for the district title last year, which the Indians captured.

SCHEDULE: Today: Tampa Bay Tech (5) vs. Plant City (4), 5 p.m.; Durant (6) vs. Brandon (3), 7 p.m. Tuesday: Plant City-TBT vs. Strawberry Crest (1), 5 p.m.; Brandon-Durant winner vs. East Bay, 7 p.m. Thursday: Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.

Class 7A-District 8

at Sickles

OUTLOOK: Senior Bryce Nickels, a 6-8 center who has signed with Youngstown State, led Sickles to another No. 1 seed and a possible 10th consecutive region berth under head coach Renaldo Garcia. The Gryphons, however, will have to get through Gaither or Steinbrenner in the semifinals. Steinbrenner has been led by high-scoring guard Ke’Shawn Ingram, the leading scorer in Hillsborough County. Freedom, enjoying a turnaround season under Cedric Smith, is chasing its second district championship appearance in program history.

SCHEDULE: Tuesday: Gaither (5) vs. Steinbrenner (4), 7 p.m. Wednesday: Wiregrass Ranch (3) vs. Freedom (2), 6 p.m.; Steinbrenner-Gaither winner vs. Sickles (1), 8 p.m. Friday: Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.

Class 6A-District 9

at Hillsborough

OUTLOOK: Jefferson, arguably the most improved program in the county after finishing 7-12 last season, earned the top seed under second-year coach Eric Hayes. Two teams that reached the regions last season, Lennard and Chamberlain, likely will meet in the semifinals.

SCHEDULE: Today: Blake (7) vs. Lennard (2), 6 p.m.; Leto (8) vs. Jefferson (1), 8 p.m. Tuesday: King (5) vs. Armwood (4), 6 p.m.; Hillsborough (6) vs. Chamberlain (3), 8 p.m. Wednesday: Chamberlain-Hillsborough winner vs. Lennard-Blake winner, 6 p.m.; Armwood-King winner vs. Jefferson-Leto winner, 8 p.m. Saturday: Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.

Class 5A-District 9

at Jesuit

OUTLOOK: Despite graduating its entire starting five from last year’s team, Jesuit, the defending 5A state champion, clinched the top seed in the tournament. Though a third seed, Middleton upset Jesuit in the regular season. Robinson’s Cody Brown, who suffered a season-ending injury in the first round of the tournament last season, leads the Knights with 16 points per game.

SCHEDULE: Wednesday: Spoto (4) vs. Jesuit (1), 6 p.m.; Middleton (3) vs. Robinson (2), 7:45 p.m. Friday: Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.

Class 4A-District 10

at Tampa Catholic

OUTLOOK: Berkeley Prep, the second-ranked team in the 4A state poll, went undefeated to earn the top seed. A matchup with second-seed Tampa Catholic in the district final is likely.

SCHEDULE: Wednesday: Sarasota Military (4) vs. Berkeley Prep (1), 6 p.m.; Sarasota Booker (3) vs. Tampa Catholic (2), 7:30 p.m. Friday: Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.

Class 3A-District 7

at Tampa Prep

OUTLOOK: Tampa Prep, the fourth ranked team in the 3A state poll, went undefeated in district play to earn the top seed, led by sophomore Juwan Durham, the county’s leading shot blocker who is averaging a double-double this season. Brooks-DeBartolo, the second seed, is seeking its first region appearance. Seffner Christian has made seven straight playoff appearances under coach Roger Duncan.

SCHEDULE: Tuesday: Carrollwood Day (5) vs. Bishop McLaughlin (4), 7 p.m. Friday: Seffner Christian (3) vs. Brooks-DeBartolo (2), 6 p.m.; Bishop McLaughlin-Carrollwood Day winner vs. Tampa Prep (1), 7:30 p.m. Saturday: Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.

Class 2A-District 7

at Cambridge Christian

OUTLOOK: Cambridge Christian won a coin toss to enter the tournament with the top seed. The Lancers, who are ranked ninth in the 2A state poll, finished 17-8 last season yet missed the playoffs. Academy at the Lakes junior Ethan Haslam was Pasco County’s leading scorer the majority of the season and has led the Wildcats to wins over larger schools. Tampa Bay HEAT and Universal Academy are first-year full members of the FHSAA.

SCHEDULE: Tuesday: Universal Academy (3) vs. Academy at the Lakes (2), 6 p.m.; Tampa Bay HEAT (4) vs. Cambridge Christian. (1), 7:30 p.m. Friday: Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.

Class 2A-District 8

at Bayshore Christian

OUTLOOK: Top-seed Bayshore Christian, ranked eighth in the 2A state poll, has not advanced to the region tournament since 2008. Canterbury, the second seed, advanced to the playoffs as the district runner-up last season.

SCHEDULE: Today: Lakeside Christian (5) vs. Odessa Christian (4), 5 p.m.; Citrus Park Christian (6) vs. Keswick Christian (3), 6:30 p.m. Tuesday: Keswick-Citrus Park winner vs. Canterbury (2), 5 p.m.; Odessa-Lakeside winner vs. Bayshore Christian (1), 6:30 p.m. Friday: Semifinal winners, 6:30 p.m.

Nick Williams

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