This is a wonderfully crazy time of the year in the Sunshine State. Spring sports are in full throttle, and south Florida annually boasts of some of the nation's best baseball teams, as well as some outstanding track and field athletes.
But the headliner sport this week is boys basketball, which will be staging its state final four tournament in all six classifications, beginning Wednesday morning and concluding Saturday night at The Lakeland Center in central Florida. Eight teams from the tri-county south Florida region have earned a trip to Lakeland, needing two more wins to hoist a championship trophy.MaxPreps Florida boys basketball playoff brackets
As always, the final four teams in Class 6A, the largest classification based on enrollment, will include a Miami-Dade County representative. This year, it's
that will clash with defending state champion Winter Park
and sensational guard Austin Rivers
, a Duke signee, in one of the 6A semifinals on Friday. It's the first state final four berth for Columbus. The other 6A semifinal will match Miramar
and Dr. Phillips (Orlando)
Broward County will have four teams in Lakeland. Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale)
, Pine Crest (Fort Lauderdale)
and Sagemont (Weston)
will join Miramar for the state's big dance. Gibbons will meet Palatka
in one of the Class 4A semifinals, Pine Crest will face Rickards (Tallahassee)
in a 3A semifinal and Sagemont will take on Port St. Joe
in Class 2A.
The other three teams from the region are from Palm Beach County. Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens)
is ranked No. 15 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 boys basketball national rankings presented by the Army National Guard
and will take a 30-1 record to Lakeland. The Panthers had another stellar performance from 6-foot-4 guard Jacoby Brissett
, the University of Florida-bound quarterback who came close to registering a quadruple-double (17 points, nine rebounds, nine steals, seven assists) in Dwyer's 91-55 rout of Palm Bay (Melbourne) in the Class 5A regional finals last Saturday night. Dwyer's semifinal opponent on Friday is Fort Walton Beach
The other two Palm Beach County teams are in opposite brackets of the Class 1A final four and will meet for the state title on Thursday if they both win their semifinal matchups Wednesday. Grandview Prep (Boca Raton)
will face Florida A&M (Tallahassee)
and Summit Christian (West Palm Beach)
is matched against Orlando Christian Prep
Dwyer, Grandview Prep and Summit Christian each bring impressive resumes to Lakeland, especially the head coaches. Dwyer head coach Fred Ross, 58, has compiled a 537-282 record during his 29 years coaching, all in Palm Beach County. His Panthers teams in 2004 and '05 won state titles and this is the program's third consecutive trip to the state final four tournament.
Summit's Murray Smith, 49, has a 505-172 career mark that spans 21 years and includes state titles in 1999 and 2000 when he was the coach at Cardinal Newman (West Palm Beach). Summit is making its fourth appearance in five years under Smith's leadership.
Grandview's Joe Dawson, 42, has a 365-82 record during his 15-year coaching career that includes a state title in 1996 when he was the head man at Monsignor Pace (Miami). This is Grandview's fifth straight final four appearance, but the Pride still is seeking its first state title.
Ross, Smith and Dawson bring 65 years of coaching experience to Lakeland, have won 1,407 games and have a combined winning percentage of .724.
Steve Dorsey, who covers the South Florida region for MaxPreps.com, is a freelance writer based in West Palm Beach. He has covered the South Florida high school sports scene for the past 29 years. He also is a contributing writer for American Football Monthly and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.