JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The girls high school basketball state playoffs begin on Thursday night. Here’s a glance at the first-round games. All games are 7 p.m. unless indicated.
(5) Oak Ridge (13-12) at (4) Oakleaf (11-11)
(7) Mandarin (17-3) at (2) Spruce Creek (19-6)
Region glance: The Knights reached the state semifinals last season and played a beefed-up schedule this year. Oakleaf’s rugged schedule no doubt prepared it for the postseason. Fantasia James (18.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg), Kaylah Turner (14.3 ppg, 6 rpg) and Kamiya Jones (10.8 ppg) lead the Knights, who should see a tough Spruce Creek team next round. The Mustangs had an excellent regular season, with Nykeria Thomas (13.7 ppg) and Ellie Jackson (11.3 ppg) leading the way. But Spruce Creek has aspirations for the state semifinals, so the road is steep for Mandarin.
(5) St. Augustine (21-1) at (4) Gainesville (14-7)
(6) Nease (22-4) at (3) Ponte Vedra (19-7)
Region glance: The Sharks took the long way to a top four seed in the region. Ponte Vedra lost to both St. Augustine and Nease in the regular season, then turned around and beat those teams in the district tournament. Morgan Gavazzi (12.7 ppg) and Kennedy Rosendahl (11 ppg) pace Ponte Vedra, which gets rival Nease again in arguably the game of the night. Can the trio of Sydney Gomes (19.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg), Camryn Robinson (14.7 ppg) and Allison Fifeld (11.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg) win the rubber match? St. Augustine, No. 1 in the Super 6 all season, saw its unbeaten season end in the district final. Janiyah Jackson (14.0 ppg, 13.6 rpg) and Emily McIntosh (12.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg) lead a team that reached the state semis last season.
(8) Choctawhatchee (10-11) at (1) Orange Park (22-5)
(5) Tallahassee Rickards (13-5) at (4) Ribault (12-8)
(7) Ridgeview (16-10) at (2) Pensacola Pine Forest (14-7), 8 p.m.
Region glance: The Raiders, a steady Super 6 team, have lived up to the hype this season. They enter on an 11-game winning streak, with Eris Lester (20.5 ppg, 8 rpg) and Nia Brown (13 ppg, 9.9 rpg) one of the area’s top — if not the top — duo in the area. How about the Trojans? They are loaded with underclassmen and don’t have a senior on their roster yet won a district title. Tough opener for Ridgeview with a Panhandle trip. Nia Blocton (16 ppg, 11.9 rpg) is one of the few area players averaging a double-double.
(8) Keystone Heights (19-5) at (1) Bishop Kenny (22-4)
(5) South Walton (20-3) at (4) Paxon (16-10)
(7) Bolles (17-9) at (2) Rutherford (22-3), 8 p.m.
(6) Jackson (15-10) at (3) Dunnellon (24-3)
Region glance: Good local region here. Kenny, with Maddie Millar (16.8 ppg), leading the way, enters on a 14-game winning streak and eyeing a fourth straight trip to Lakeland. The Crusaders are conditioned for a tough regional stretch but would get all three games at home. Can the Golden Eagles get their first playoff win since 2017? Ansley Hicks (15 ppg) and Kennedy Waymer (13.2 ppg) lead Paxon. Gateway champ Jackson, led by Jazmine Jackson (11.6 ppg), gets a tough, tough assignment right out of the gate. Same with Bolles, which opens up with a lengthy road trip. The Bulldogs — looking for their first playoff win since 2019 — are paced by freshman Abby Knauff (17 ppg).
(8) Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (17-7) at (1) Florida High (17-3)
(7) Episcopal (11-10) at (2) Ocala Trinity Catholic (21-4)
(6) Daytona Beach Father Lopez (16-9) at (3) Providence (18-5)
Region glance: How about the Dragons, who reached the state playoffs for the first time ever? Olivia Brown (18.1 ppg) and Kayla Debrow (11.4 ppg, 10.7 ppg) have pushed Florida Deaf into a history-making position. Episcopal is in the hunt for its first playoff victory since 2003. The Stallions have been sneaky good this year, with underclassmen shining. Freshman Janie Boyd (15.2 ppg) and junior Ella Ortman (11.6 ppg) have paced Providence.
(8) St. Joseph (13-12) at (1) Florida A&M (13-3)
(5) St. Johns Country Day (20-5) at (4) North Florida Educational (8-11)
(7) Aucilla Christian (20-6) at (2) University Christian (15-11)
Region glance: UC cooled off red-hot St. Johns to win the district tournament and potentially put those two on a collision course for the regional final. Seniors Taijshiah Baldwin (17.9 ppg) and Monique Cepeda (11.2 ppg) lead UC. St. Johns’ Taliah Scott (32.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg) remains one of the most electric players in the country to watch. She’s got help from Mary Kate Kent (12.2 ppg), but the Spartans will need some more to get through this region as teams work to shut them down. Tough opener for the Flashes, but Kelly Cramer (19.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg) is one of the area’s top scorers.
(4) Hilliard (13-13) at (1) Madison County (17-6)
(3) Lafayette (19-4) at (2) Fort White (17-2)
Region glance: The Red Flashes visit the Cowboys in a tough opener. A win nets them a district championship rematch against Lafayette, or a Fort White team led by Jacovya Major (17.2 ppg).