Eight area teams open state playoffs Thursday, including Gainesville, Eastside, P.K. Yonge and Newberry
(all games Thursday at 7 p.m.; $7 admission)
Rankings according to MaxPreps (maxpreps.com)
Class 7A, Region 1
Who: St. Augustine (16-9) at No. 7 Gainesville (21-7)
What’s next: Gainesville would host Ocala Forest or travel to No. 2 Ponte Vedra Nease in Tuesday’s regional semifinals; St. Augustine would travel to either school
Free throw: The host Hurricanes are in their ninth straight playoff under coach David Gordon and are looking for their first regional semifinal berth in two years. Gainesville fell to Nease (57-51) in overtime in last year’s regional quarterfinals. The visiting Yellow Jackets are in their 10th playoff in last 12 years and have advanced to regional semifinals in nine of those years.
Class 6A, Region 2
Who: St. Augustine Menendez (16-8) at Eastside (15-9)
What’s next: Eastside would host Belleview or travel to No. 5 Ponte Vedra in Tuesday’s regional semifinals; Menendez would travel to either school.
Free throw: The visiting Rams, under second-year coach Lonnika Thompson, are in their sixth straight state playoffs and 15th in last 17 years. Eastside last advanced to regional semifinals in 2015, when it reached for fifth time in six years. The visiting Falcons, under second-year coach Kerri Robison, are in their third playoff in six years and have yet to reach regional semifinals.
Class 5A, Region 1
Who: Jacksonville Bolles (16-9) at Newberry (19-6)
What’s next: Newberry would host Bradford or travel to No. 7 Fernandina Beach in Tuesday’s regional semifinals; Bolles would travel to either school.
Free throw: The host Panthers, in their first season moving up to 5A from 1A, are in their second straight playoff and fourth in six years (lost to Ponce De Leon in 1A final in 2012). With Ray Parrish, who coached Newberry to 1A state finals in 2012 and regional finals in 2011, back and he has one of the top young area talents in sophomore guard Courtney Moore. The visiting Bulldogs are in their fifth straight playoff and has advanced to at least the regional semifinals in each of the previous four years, falling in 4A regional finals in 2016. Bolles lost back-to-back regional 4A semifinals to multi-state champion Ribault in 2015 and 2014.
Who: Bradford (11-12) at No. 7 Fernandina Beach (23-4)
What’s next: Bradford would host Bolles or travel to Newberry in Tuesday’s regional semifinals; Fernandina Beach would host either school.
Free throw: The visiting Tornadoes are in their third straight playoff and fourth in five years, last advancing to 4A regional semifinals in 2016 and 2013. Bradford won the 4A state title in 1995. The host Pirates, winners of 12 straight games, are in their third straight playoff, falling at Florida High in 2017’s regional finals (53-49).
Class 4A, Region 1
Who: St. Augustine St. Joseph (10-8) at No. 4 P.K. Yonge (18-7)
What’s next: P.K. Yonge would host No. 8 Jacksonville University Christian or Tallahassee Maclay in Tuesday’s regional finals; St. Joseph would host Maclay or travel to University Christian.
Free throw: P.K. Yonge, which has four state championships, are in its 20th state playoff in last 22 years and won its 13th straight district title. The Blue Wave advanced to the 4A regional finals previous three years, losing to state champion Lake Highland Prep in 2015. Coach Willie Powers has led P.K. Yonge to seven final fours and won state titles in 2010 (2A) and 2012 (3A). The visiting Flashes are in their first playoff since 2015 and haven’t advanced past the first round since 2007.
Class 1A, Region 3
Who: Hilliard (10-15) at No. 8 Lafayette (19-7)
What’s next: Lafayette would host Hawthorne or Hamilton County in Tuesday’s regional finals; Hilliard would host Hamilton County or travel to Hawthorne.
Free throw: The host Hornets, which reached its fourth state tournament in 2017 (losing to South Walton in semifinals, 40-31), are in their fifth straight playoff and 17th in last 18 years, all under coach Jimmy Blankenship. Lafayette has never won a state title but played in 2A state final in 2008, losing to North Florida Christian 54-44. The visiting Red Flashes last reached the state playoffs in 2015, when they made their seventh trip to the state tournament, losing to Wildwood.
Who: Hamilton County (8-12) at Hawthorne (12-8)
What’s next: Hawthorne would host Hilliard or travel to Lafayette in Tuesday’s regional finals; Hamilton County would travel to either school.
Free throw: The host Hornets are in their fifth playoff in six years and 14th in last 20 years. Hawthorne made its first trip to the final four in 2014. The visiting Trojans are in their second straight playoff, losing to Williston in semifinals in 2017 (63-54).
Class 1A, Region 4
Who: Frostproof (15-7) at No. 3 Trenton (24-2)
What’s next: Trenton would host No. 1 Wildwood or Branford in Tuesday’s regional finals; Frostproof would host Branford or travel to Wildwood.
Free throw: The host Tigers, under coach Bryant Frye, are in their third straight playoff, reaching state finals in 2016 and losing at state champion Wildwood in 2017’s regional finals. Prior to this run, Trenton’s last playoff was in 2010. In 2015, the Tigers seemed poised to make a deep playoff run but lost in the district semifinals to Hawthorne, snapping a 17-game win streak. Between 1976-81, Trenton went to five final fours. The visiting Bulldogs are in their first playoff since 2008.