Four area boys basketball teams prepping for state playoffs

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  • | 8:45 p.m. February 11, 2015
Four area boys basketball teams prepping for state playoffs
Four area boys basketball teams prepping for state playoffs
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Here is the schedule for Thursday’s regional quarterfinal action (all games to tip at 7 p.m.):

Class 8A

Dr. Phillips at Evans; West Orange at Boone

Class 3A

Windermere Prep at The Master’s Academy

Class 2A

CFCA at Meadowbrook (Ocala)

Winners advance to their respective regional semifinal contests on at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17.

The action on the hardwood is about to amp up a notch. Four coverage-area boys basketball teams are set to begin play in the state playoffs for their respective FHSAA classifications.

Central Florida Christian Academy (Class 2A District 4), Dr. Phillips (Class 8A District 4), West Orange (Class 8A District 3) and Windermere Prep (Class 3A District 6) all finished as runner-up in their respective district tournaments and, in doing so, secured berths in their respective regional tournaments.

Regional quarterfinal matchups for all four programs are set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12, with all four also going on the road.

The following is a team-by-team look at how these teams got there — and what lies ahead.

CFCA (22-6)

Amid a breakout season under first-year head coach Jonathan McClintock, the CFCA Eagles secured a berth in the Class 2A State Playoffs with district tournament wins over Calvary Christian and Trinity Christian last week in the 2A-4 quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.

The Eagles fell to Agape Christian, 47-41, in the district championship, but if they can get past Meadowbrook on the road in Ocala, they could get another shot at the Saints in the regional semifinals on Feb. 17. Agape plays Cornerstone (Gainesville) in its own quarterfinal.

Meadowbrook is 19-8 and enters the playoff opener on a six-game winning streak. 

Dr. Phillips (19-8)

The Dr. Phillips Panthers, who started the calendar new year on a 13-game winning streak after ending 2014 at a 6-7 mark, lost for the first time in 2015 Feb. 6 to the Boone Braves in the Class 8A District 4 Final, 44-43.

Fortunately for coach Anthony Long’s Panthers, who secured a berth in the state playoffs with a win earlier in the week, it was the one game left on the schedule they could afford to lose. Unfortunately, by finishing as runner-up, Dr. Phillips is now charged with the unenviable task of going on the road to take on the No. 1 team in the state in Class 8A — the Evans Trojans (22-6).

The Panthers defeated the Trojans at Evans on Jan. 13, 61-51, in one of their signature victories. Still, replicating that feat — and keeping the program’s streak of 20-win seasons alive — will be a tall task.

The winner of Thursday’s game will face the winner of West Orange at Boone on Feb. 17.

West Orange (16-10)

Don’t count out the West Orange Warriors.

The Warriors, who have had trouble with inconsistency at times this season, overcame a double-digit deficit — and, later, a two-possession deficit in the game’s waning moments — to force overtime against Ocoee in the Class 8A District 3 Semifinals. 

West Orange defeated the Knights in overtime, 81-75, to secure its berth in the state playoffs.

Afterward, coach Eric Jones praised his team for fighting through adversity when other teams might have packed it in.

“I’m excited for the kids — they gave their all,” Jones said. “Perseverance … these guys have just been doing a fantastic job the last few weeks in terms of preparation, and I feel like that was the difference.”

The Warriors, who fell in the 8A-3 Final to Evans, 77-66, will take to the road to face the Boone Braves. West Orange fell big to the Braves before the holidays, 63-41, but has shown vast improvement since then.

Senior forward Quinton Forrest, who led the Warriors in scoring all season and scored the bucket that sent last week’s semifinal into overtime, said his message to his teammates has been about proving those who would doubt them wrong.

“My favorite quote is, ‘Be phenomenal or be forgotten’ — so I just tell the guys, ‘If we lose, they’ll forget about us, but if we win, West Orange is going to be on people’s mouths forever,’” Forrest said. 

The winner of this game faces the winner of the Dr. Phillips- Evans semifinal.

Windermere Prep (17-9)

To this point, at least, The First Academy Royals just seem to have the Lakers’ number.

Windermere Prep fell for a third time to the Royals (25-4) in the 3A-6 Championship on Saturday, 66-56. This happened despite the Lakers hitting nine of their first 11 attempts from the field and leading by as many as 15 points early in the second quarter.

“We got away from doing what we were doing,” Windermere Prep coach Ben Wilson said. “The defensive pressure and intensity was great, the shot selection was great — and I think we got away from all that.”

With the loss, the Lakers will be tasked with traveling to The Master’s Academy (22-4) on Thursday to take on the upstart Eagles — a program energized since first-year coach Reggie Kohn came over after a memorable run at Orlando Christian Prep. If Windermere Prep can be successful against The Master’s Academy, though, it could get a fourth shot at TFA, which hosts Mount Dora Bible in its quarterfinal game.

“(The Royals have) had our number three times, but the good news is that the two times we’ve played them really well have been in this gym (at TFA),” Wilson said. 

Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].


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