JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The path to the state semifinals in Lakeland continues for boys high school basketball teams this week.
Eleven area teams are in action in the second round of the state playoffs on Tuesday night, including four all-local clashes.
Should teams win on Tuesday night, the regional finals on Friday would determine who advances to next week’s state final four at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.
Tuesday, all games 7 p.m.
Bartram Trail (14-13) at Seminole (15-7): Not even a hint of difficulty for the Bears in their playoff opener, a 55-25 blowout of Lake Mary. Seminole knocked off Oakleaf (69-44) to end the Knights’ season. C Alijah Kuehl (16 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks) is a difference-maker all over the court. G DJ Fowler had a team-best 17 points in the playoff opener. The Bears have never been past the second round of the state playoffs, losing in their only two trips (2003, 2018). A win would send Bartram on to face either Orlando Dr. Phillips or Olympia in the regional final.
Columbia (19-5) at Tallahassee Lincoln (13-6): The Tigers butchered Tate (96-73) in the playoff opener and stayed on path towards a return to the state semifinals. They reached the final four last season. This is rematch of the district championship game on Feb. 12, won 64-57 by Lincoln. F Marcus Peterson had a career-best 32 points against Tate. The winner here will face either Fletcher or Ocala Forest in the regional final.
Fletcher (19-9) at Ocala Forest (16-6): Seven consecutive wins for the Senators, including a 60-52 victory over Mainland in the playoff opener that ended a postseason drought that stretched back to 1996. If teams focus too heavily on the area’s leading scorer, G Zyhir Sims (25.3 ppg), the Senators have options to take advantage of that. F Lajae Jones had 21 points in the first-round win, the 25th time this season that he’s reached double figures in a game. Can Fletcher win two playoff games in the same season? It would mark the first time since that season in 1996 that the Senators have done that. Fletcher would face either Lincoln or Columbia if it beats Forest.
Lee (18-9) at Ponte Vedra (22-4): The Generals have won five in a row going into this one. G Tarence Guinyard had 16 points in a playoff-opening rout of St. Augustine, a game that showcased Lee’s depth. F Dominick Smith, G Antonio Harrison and F Jarrion Smith also reached double figures in that game. F Luke Pirris had 16 points for the Sharks in their comfortable win over Parker in the opener, which featured a fast start defensively and balance as well. G Nathan Bunkosky, F Jack Polian and G Rory Mayer were all in double figures in scoring in that game. The winner will face either Choctawhatchee or Mosley in the regional final on Friday.
Paxon (20-7) at West Nassau (18-11): An excellent second-round game. The Golden Eagles outlasted Bolles 71-65 in an OT classic, with Jakobe Williams draining a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into the extra period. Paxon and coach Toby Frazier have reached the state semifinals the last two seasons. The Warriors hadn’t won a playoff game since 2013 until last week’s 57-44 victory over Bishop Kenny. They enter this one on a tear, winners of 12 straight games. In that streak is a 64-49 win over Paxon on Feb. 12 in the district title game. Star G Deebo Coleman is averaging 24.3 ppg and is currently at 2,454 career points, a mark that ranks third in area history. He’s just 51 points away from tying former Nease star Chet Stachitas. A win would mean a game against either Pensacola or Marianna on Friday.
Jackson (17-6) at Bishop Snyder (20-8): The game of the night in the area is a district championship rematch, won in a 66-60 classic by Snyder. The playoff openers for both told different stories. The Cardinals, perhaps showing a bit of nerves, had to grind out a win over Maclay (63-58). On the other hand, the Tigers went on the road and had no difficulty in clocking a one-loss Florida High (82-65). The winner here is a very good bet to reach the state semifinals, a place that Jackson has gotten familiar with under coach James Collins. The Tigers have finished as state runner-up the past two seasons.
University Christian (16-11) at Impact Christian (17-8): The Lions are positioned well to reach another state semifinal, although this could be their most challenging remaining game before then. Impact has played a tough schedule for a 2A program and is built for the postseason. The Lions were state runner-up both 2018 and last season and are realistic contenders for Lakeland annually. They had no trouble with Christ’s Church (68-44) in the first round. G Kobe Denmark had 18 points for the Christians in a 45-41 win over North Florida Educational in the playoff opener. The winner will face Florida A&M or St. John Paul II in the regional final on Friday.