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Prep Sports Report

Girls basketball region finals preview

All games at 7 p.m. Friday

Class 8A

Naples Gulf Coast (25-2) at Tampa Bay Tech (25-3): The Titans are coming off a 62-44 win over Countryside. They are clearly playing some good basketball at the right time. Junior Jalyn Spurlin scored 12 points against the Cougars, and top scorers K'Nisha Godfrey and Janae Thomas each had 13 points. With that kind of balance, the Titans could reach their first state semifinal. But Gulf Coast is no slouch. The only two losses were to Miami Country Day and Tallahassee Lincoln, both of which are still in the playoffs. Junior Yasmeen Chang is the player to stop with 19.5 points per game. Senior Jordan Cloutier averages 14.2 points and Mya Giusto 12.2. Gulf Coast lost in overtime to Winter Haven last season in the Class 8A state final.

RELATED: Tampa Bay Tech pulls away late

Class 7A

Sunlake (19-7) at Dayton Beach Father Lopez (27-3): This could be a tough task for the Seahawks. They did knock off Mitchell twice in both the district final and the region semifinal, but Father Lopez is in a different class. The Green Wave has won five straight since a loss to a very good Orlando Bishop Moore. They don't score a bunch of points but get enough production from junior Taylor Williams (17.6 ppg) and sophomore Tiera White (13.5 ppg) to be competitive. The Green Wave made the state final last season.

Fort Myers (11-15) at Clearwater (21-2): Don't let the record fool you; Fort Myers is much better than 11-15. The Green Wave had to forfeit its first 14 games due an ineligible player. That player, freshman Chaniya Clark, regained her eligibility by the district tournament and has been a factor. She scored 18 points in a 75-43 win over Fort Myers Dunbar in a region semifinal. And Fort Myers is the defending Class 7A state champ, so the Tornadoes have a lot to deal with. They started slowly before getting past Northeast last round. Top players Carrie Lee, Olivia Jones and D'Mya Ferguson will have to be at the top of their games.

RELATED: Tornadoes get hard earned win over Northeast

Class 6A

Fivay (25-3) at Ponte Vedra (22-5): The Falcons will not forget this season any time soon. They had never made the playoffs before this season and here they are in a region final. Of course, it's against a team that made the state semifinals last year, but no team is a pushover at this stage. Defense got them here, as the 36-29 win over River Ridge proves, so that will be the key in this one. India Lewis is Fivay's top player at 21.9 points per game. Ponte Vedra ended the regular season with two losses but turned it around in the playoffs. The top scorer is sophomore Channing Chappell with 15.2 points per game.

RELATED: Fivay gets past rival River Ridge

Lakewood (25-4) at Robinson (22-2): This is a rematch of last year's region final, which was also at Robinson. Lakewood won en route to the Class 6A state final. Kaliah Henderson was the top player for Robinson last year and she sure is again this season. She scored 35 of her team's 59 points on Tuesday in a win over Sarasota Booker. Expect the Spartans to guard her tightly and dare others to score. At least that was the plan last season. Lakewood has Toi Smith, Paris Williams, Diana Rosenthal, Macey Zeh-Arndt and Jaylynn Presley, all of whom can score. The Spartans' break-neck pace and full-court press could be too much to deal with.

RELATED: Kaliah Henderson propels Robinson

Class 5A

West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy (24-5) at Tampa Catholic (21-5):  The Crusaders got the rematch they wanted. Tampa Catholic edged Brooks DeBartolo 30-26 in the region semifinals to get another crack at the ThunderWolves. They beat the Crusaders in this round by 20 points last season. Tampa Catholic plays good defense and Ashley Sieper has been a key scorer all season. Oxbridge is led by junior Aaliyah Stanley and her 14.3 points per game.

RELATED: Tampa Catholic hangs on to beat Brooks DeBartolo

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