R.M.F. Road to Lakeland: Regional Finals (5A-9A) Preview and Predictions

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By: Jesse Nadelman (Staff Writer) and Jean Dubuisson II (Co-founder)

Just like that, we’re in the last two weeks of the 2016-2017 season. The regional finals for 5A-9A on Friday, February 24th is all that is left until the FHSAA state championships in Lakeland.

On Tuesday night, we saw plenty of action in the regional finals for 1A-4A in South Florida. Grandview Prep – the defending 2A state champs – made a late run but were unable to top Miami Christian, which advances to Lakeland, while Champagnat Catholic overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to beat Village Academy to get to states. In 4A, Westminster Academy returns to Lakeland courtesy of a buzzer beater by freshman Dudley Blackwell to beat Sagemont – which ralled from a 16-point hole to tie it at 66 – as the Lions hope to avenge last year’s loss in the state title game.

The 5A-9A semifinals were just as fun. Coral Springs and Wellington each rallied late to advance to the 9A regional finals, in which they will meet for the second straight year, while Palm Beach Lakes became the first Palm Beach County team since Dwyer in 2010 to knock off back-to-back champion Blanche Ely in regionals. Calvary Christian avenged its district final loss to University School to advance, and Dillard, South Miami, North Miami, Oxbridge Academy, Hallandale, and Miami Norland all won, as well.

Dillard and Coral Springs are the only defending state champions still alive.

Friday night will be all 5A-9A regional finals. Winner goes to Lakeland, loser goes home.

May we remind you that R.M.F. Magazine will has you covered the entire way on the road to the FHSAA state championships in Lakeland, with predictions and previews for each round of regionals.

For each regional game including a South Florida team, R.M.F. Magazine’s Jean Dubuisson II and Jesse Nadelman will predict the winner, and give reasoning.

We also have South Florida regional brackets here, which will be updated throughout regionals.

Playoff basketball is the best basketball.

Enjoy.

Prediction Records:

Jesse Nadelman (37-11 overall; 9-7 last round)

Jean Dubuisson II (36-12 overall; 10-6 last round)

CLASS 5A-9A Regional Finals

*All games Friday, February 24th, at 7:00 P.M.

CLASS 5A 

Region 3 

Game 28- teamPic1151023-6173-vhwkegOxbridge Academy at TCTampa Catholic

Jesse Nadelman (Staff Writer):

Tampa Catholic wins by 10

First-year coach Brandon Strassburger has done a fine job at getting Oxbridge a district championship, and back to the regional finals this year. It’s the same spot the Thunderwolves lost in last year, on the road against Tampa Catholic. I think the game comes down to what Strassburger can come up with to slow down five-star Tampa Catholic wing Kevin Knox. I see the young Thunderwolves putting up a fight, but in the end, beating Knox and a senior laden Crusaders club will be too much of a feat for Oxbridge on Friday night. 

Jean Dubuisson II (Co-founder):

Tampa Catholic wins by 15 

Region 4

Game 26- photo1825Calvary Christian at teamlogo_1398_1337268769933Gulliver Prep

Jesse Nadelman:

Calvary Christian wins by 20

The Eagles went on the road in the regional semifinals and avenged a district championship loss to University School by beating the Sharks to advance to the regional finals to face Gulliver. Although coach Manny Bloom will have his team ready, a senior laden – and far more talented – Calvary squad shouldn’t have much trouble with the young Raiders. Calvary 7-footer Victor Uyaelunmo should have a big day in the paint going against his former school as the Eagles head to Lakeland for the first time in school history.

Jean Dubuisson II:

Calvary Christian wins by 15

Gulliver Prep has had a great season this year in spite the transferring of several players from last years team. Now they will square off with a trip to Lakeland on the line. I say this again: it’s always hard to beat senior teams in the playoffs. Calvary Christian has been battle tested all season; going into University School and getting a victory was tough enough. Gulliver Prep will put up a fight but look for Calvary Christian to use its size to dominate the game.

CLASS 6A

Region 4

Game 26- ic7G8ilX_400x400Hallandale at 602E39EC130FF8D90F7D9ABC3A9E45C6.leesburghs-mascot-contextLeesburg

Jesse Nadelman:

Hallandale wins by 9

The Chargers made a statement in the regional semis by whooping a good Suncoast team by 37 to advance. This Hallandale team is not to be overlooked. They’re talented, senior laden, athletic, and hungry. Although the Chargers have to travel nearly four hours up to Leesburg for the regional finals, I think Hallandale gets it done to punch its ticket to the state semifinals in Lakeland. 

Jean Dubuisson II:

Hallandale wins by 5

Hallandale has to travel to Leesburg to get to Lakeland. Both teams are athletic, will apply pressure, will turn you over, the difference will be which team will be able to slow each other down? Look for The Chargers to continue there run to Lakeland.

CLASS 7A

Region 4 

Game 26- logoDillard at miami-norlandMiami Norland

Jesse Nadelman:

Dillard wins by 14

What’s better than two of the best coaches of all time – Darryl Burrows and Lawton Williams III – going at it with a trip to Lakeland on the line? Burrows and Dillard beat Williams, Dewan Huell, and Norland last year, and I think Dillard gets it done against this year. After Huell graduated, Norland is still talented, but very young. Williams has done a great job getting the Vikings to this point and his team will put up a fight on their home court, but Dillard, featuring all five starters signed to play division one, will be too much to handle.

Jean Dubuisson II:

Miami Norland wins by 2

The Grandaddy of them all is finally here. Two heavyweights. The defending state champions have to travel to Miami Gardens to “The Ship” to secure there return to Lakeland to defend their state championship and to achieve back-to-back championships. The focus will be on the two living legends that will put there basketball Legacies to battle. Darryl Burrows (Dillard) has six state titles and Lawton Williams III (Miami Norland) also has six state titles. Who will come out on top? Dillard has steamrolled through the second half of the season, while Norland has been slowly coming to form. The Panthers have a senior group that is trying to leave their mark in thePpanthers history books. The young Vikings group is trying to make history by up ending the Panthers but it will be a hard task; since Lawton Williams III has been at the helm of the vikings have only lost five times at “The Ship” during regular season as well as playoffs in 11 years. If any team could pull off a victory in “The Ship” the Panthers can. This will be a closer game then most people think. In the end, it’s tough to beat Norland on its home court.

CLASS 8A

Region 4

Game 26- mustang7.jpgMcArthur at images-1Palm Beach Lakes

Jesse Nadelman:

Palm Beach Lakes wins by 5

Coach Warren Gale has done a tremendous job with McArthur yet again, taking an inferior Mustangs team back to the regional finals. But just as it did last year against Blanche Ely, I think the road ends here. Palm Beach Lakes is a team on a mission this year, dethroning back-to-back state champion Ely in the semifinals. Senior Player of the Year candidate Lavorris Givens has a big day as the Rams punch a ticket to states.

Jean Dubuisson II:

McArthur wins by 1

Palm Beach Lakes defeated the defending state champions Blanche Ely on the Tigers’ home floor which is a feat in itself. Now they face the Mustangs who are trying to make it back to Lakeland for some unfinished business from there last trip to Lakeland (2015). This game is about matchups. The Mustangs have size, athleticism and depth and the Rams have defense, shooting and the home court advantage. This will go down to the wire.

CLASS 9A

Region 3

Game 28- CoralSprings1Coral Springs at wellington logoWellington

Jesse Nadelman:

Coral Springs wins by 2

Round two. Coral Springs travels to Wellington with a trip to Lakeland on the line for the second straight year. Last year, it was the Colts dethroning the defending state champion Wolverines in double overtime. This year, can Wellington get revenge and dethrone defending state champ Coral Springs? The game will come down to if Coral Springs can contain Illinois signee and one of the top players in the state, Trent Frazier. I think Colts coach Devin Barta – one of the top young coaches in Florida who has taken Coral Springs to three regional finals in his four years as coach – has something up his sleeve. The Colts, somehow after losing 11 of its 14 players from last year including all starters, get back to Lakeland in a close one. 

Jean Dubuisson II:

Wellington wins by 1

Devin Barta has made himself one of the top young coaches in South Florida in his short time with the Colts. No one in South Florida believed this team would get back to this Regional Finals game including myself! Job well done, Coach Barta! With that being said look for both teams to be ready for this game. The last time these two teams meet for a Regional Finals championship, the Colts won. Revenge will be on the Wolverines minds. Illinois signee Trent Frazier would like to end his career on a high note. This will be another barn burner in Palm Beach!

Region 4

Game 26- LfBe_x0qNorth Miami at huii_fTXSouth Miami

Jesse Nadelman:

South Miami wins by 17

Kudos to North Miami. The Pioneers lost the district title game but have on the road twice and won to advance to the regional finals. Their reward? A date with defending regional champ South Miami, armed with Oklahoma State signees Zack Dawson and Latravian Glover. Give me those two to have big days at home and send the Cobras back to states, where they look to get to conduct some unfinished business after being ousted in the state semis last year.

Jean Dubuisson II:

South Miami wins by 10

The Pioneers have had a season for the books. This North Miami team is young, scrappy and athletic but in the counter part, the Cobras are as well, with the exception of young. This South Miami team is lead by Oklahoma State signee (Sr) (Pg) 6’2 Zach Dawson. This kid can SCORE! It will be a tough task for the Poineers to win down in the “Snake Pit” and contain Dawson.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Jesse Nadelman

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Jesse Nadelman is a 17-year old reporter for R.M.F. Magazine who currently is a senior at North Broward Prep. Growing up in South Florida, Jesse has grown an intense passion for sports media. He covers all of South Florida’s top high school basketball teams and events for R.M.F. In addition to contributing to R.M.F, Jesse also writes for FloridaHSFootball.com, covering South Florida High School Football, and contributes to a variety of other outlets.

You could follow Jesse on twitter: @Jessenadelman

Jean Dubuisson II

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Jean is the co-founder of R.M.F. Magazine and the head coach for ASA Miami College.

You could follow Jean on twitter: @DoobieRMF

You could follow R.M.F. Magazine on twitter: @RMFMagazine

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