By STEVE JACKSON
A major milestone is playing out this week in high school basketball. Opening rounds of the FHSAA state playoffs started Feb. 7 or Feb. 8 with a second round of games for the winners on Feb. 10. Losers pack it in for the 2022-2023 season. Winners of the district finals on Feb. 10 continue action in regional quarterfinals playoff games the week of Feb. 16. Winners then clash in regional semi-final games Feb. 21 with regional finals set for Feb. 24. State championships for the FHSAA are March 1 and 2.
Sumner High split two games last week to run its outstanding season mark to 19-6. The #2 seed Stingrays start Region 7A District 11 hoop play versus 10-15 Strawberry Crest, a #3 seed, on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at Sumner at 7 p.m. Sumner has already conclusively beaten Strawberry Crest twice this season.
Another of the five South Shore boys basketball squads with a pretty good opportunity, at least in its first round game, is the 7 win-15 loss Riverview High Sharks. Coach Anthonie Corpening’s team won its season finale, 58-57, over Tampa Bay Tech last Thursday after dropping a 69-66 game to Sickles last Monday. The Sharks have a great chance to advance in the first round of the district playoffs. Their opening opponent Feb. 7 was Lakewood Ranch High with a dismal 2-20 season record. If Riverview topped Lakewood Ranch, it has a mammoth district hurdle Feb. 8. in the Newsome Wolves at 7 p.m. in Lithia. The
Wolves tout a 22-3 record and are the #1 seed in the District 11 first round playoff..
Coach Waymon Reed’s Spoto Spartans had an opening round playoff match against the 7-12 Middleton Tigers Feb. 7. If 10-13 Spoto got by Middleton, then its real playoff test comes against the bracket’s top seed, powerful Jesuit High of Tampa, sporting a regular season record of 20-5. That game is set for Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. at Jesuit if Spoto survived Middelton the previous night.
Under Head Coach Chris Putnam, Lennard High split two games last week to run its season mark to 7-12. This week in opening round state playoffs, the Longhorns played a tough opening foe in Tampa Bay Tech. The Titans are 10-15 on the season and a #3 seed in District 10, while Lennard is 7-13 and a #6 seed. The winner tangles Feb. 8 with the winner of the prior evening’s game between Manatee High and East Bay.
East Bay brings a disappointing 0-18 record into the Feb. 7 playoff game with 12-13 Manatee Hurricanes in Bradenton. The Indians, under Head Coach Marcus Ludwig, lost to the Jefferson Dragons, a 3-20 team, last week. Earlier last week, the Indians fell 62-49 to the 3-19 Freedom Patriots.
As far as boys basketball outside of the five South Shore teams in Hillsborough County, it appears that two squads, 19-5 Wharton High and 18-6 Leto High, have the best shot at advancing in the state playoffs. Another smaller classification school in Hillsborough County to watch is Bell Creek Academy. The small charter school opens its playoff versus 7-8 New Dimension School of Kissimmee.