By: Wells Dusenbury
After one round of action, the playoff field has shrunk from 22 to 10. Following Thursday's Regional Quarterfinals, just 10 teams across Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast remain alive in the quest for a basketball state championship.
While there were some mild upsets in the first round, the heavy favorites managed to survive and advance to the Regional Semifinals.
With the second round kicking off on Tuesday, let's break down five of the biggest match-ups in the area.
8A: Wellington @ Jupiter
For the 4th time this season, the District 9-8A rivals will meet again. Jupiter held off a fierce Park Vista rally in the first round to advance to this point, while Wellington went on the road and throttled Boca Raton.
While the Warriors have won the previous three games versus the Wolverines this year, it's in no way a cake walk for Jupiter. Two weeks ago, the Warriors eeked out 36-35 win against Wellington in the District Championship.
Both teams like to play a slower, grind-it-out type of game, so there's no reason to expect that to be any different this go-around.
8A: Orlando-University @ Treasure Coast
Treasure Coast is quietly in the midst of a potential dream season. Not only did the Titans capture their first District Title, but they also won their first playoff game last week. Treasure Coast is 19-5 this year and is peaking at the right time. Since dropping a three-point game to Suncoast in December, the Titans have rolled off 14 straight wins.
The Titans have a shot to keep that dream alive on Tuesday. While University is no push-over, Treasure Coast has a realistic shot at advancing the Regional Finals, especially with the Titans at home.
7A: Royal Palm Beach @ Palm Beach Lakes
Much like Wellington and Jupiter, these two teams will also be meeting for the 4th time this season. Palm Beach Lakes has taken two of the three meetings, with the Wildcats' lone win coming at Royal Palm Beach. This time, they'll have to face the Rams on the road, though.
In their last meeting, the Rams came away with a 51-43 win in a back-and-forth game. Palm Beach Lakes is really hitting its stride right now and looks like a legitimate contender to head to Lakeland. Royal Palm Beach though plays everyone tough and could pull off the upset if they come to play.
7A: Charlotte @ Martin County
Charlotte must be getting sick of Martin County. Jermohn Queen especially. The past two seasons, the Tiger football team has upset Charlotte on the road to end their season. This past season Queen played the role of hero as Tigers' 5-7 speedster torched the Tarpons for 353 yards rushing en route to a 35-32 win.
Charlotte will get a chance at revenge against Queen and the Tigers on the hardwood. At guard, Queen is the Tigers' top offensive threat and has been an absolute terror for teams to stop. If Charlotte has any chance at knocking off Martin County, they'll have to shut down the Tigers' diminutive guard. That's easier said than done though. Queen dropped 30 points in Martin County's opening round win against Port Charlotte.
4A: Bishop Verot @ St. Andrew's
This is a revenge game for St. Andrew's. Last season, the Vikings put an abrupt end to the Scots season with a 23-point thumping in Fort Myers. While St. Andrew's had to make the nearly three-hour trek to Bishop Verot last year, the Vikings will have to make that drive this time around.
Home-court advantage doesn't mean a whole lot in high school basketball (no teams have the Cameron Crazies or Rowdy Reptiles cheering them on), except when a team has to make a long drive. Sitting in a bus for three hours will wear on anyone and that could give SA a big-time advantage this go-around.
3A: Community School of Naples @ Pahokee
Pahokee is clearly the most surprising team to still be alive in the postseason. After a 9-7 regular season, the Blue Devils won back-to-back games in the District Tournament, including a one-point win over Benjamin in the Championship, to nab the title. Then on Tuesday, they followed that up with another one-point over Naples-Neumann to advance to the Regional Semifinals. The road gets a lot more difficult this round though as they have to take on the 26-2 Seahawks, who handed Benjamin a 15-point loss on Thursday.
2A: Lake Worth Christian @ Grandview Prep
It's hard to envision Grandview dropping this game. The Pride have squared off against the Defenders two times this season, with Grandview winning by 7 and 15 points, respectively. LWC is certainly capable of pulling off an upset, but with a 7th consecutive trip to Lakeland in sight for Grandview, the Pride won't be looking past their District rivals.
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