Thursday, February 22, 2024

Three local wild-card teams join district champ Mainland in FHSAA boys basketball playoffs

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Only one Volusia-Flagler boys basketball team ensured a state tournament berth by claiming its district’s title last week.

Still, four local squads got in, the Florida High School Association announced Sunday afternoon.

Joining Mainland, the top seed in Region 1-5A, in the playoffs are three wild cards: Deltona, Father Lopez and Halifax.

The regional quarterfinals will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday. In all regional rounds, the higher seed will serve as the home team except during the first round when a district champion is facing an at-large team. The district winner will host regardless of seeding.

The Buccaneers (19-6) sit as the only local group in the state’s top 100. They rank 35th. They avoided an upset by launching a second-half comeback to beat St. Augustine 43-39 in the District 4-5A finals Saturday. Now, they’ll bring No. 8 Pine Forest to town for the regional quarterfinals.

Deltona (16-8) will compete in the same bracket as Mainland. The Wolves came into the District 4-5A tournament as the second seed but fell to No. 3 St. Augustine in the semifinals. They secured the region’s sixth seed and will drive to third-seeded Riverside for the first round.

Despite losing to Master’s Academy in the District 4-3A finals, Father Lopez has been scorching lately. The Green Wave (19-6) grabbed nine Ws in a row before the league title game. They will look to reignite some of their momentum as the sixth seed in Region 1-3A, matching up with No. 3 Marianna.

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The area’s only team with 20 wins, Halifax (22-5), will enter Region 2-2A as the seventh seed. The Knights dropped to Mount Dora Christian in the District 6-2A finals but had reigned victorious in their previous five contests. They’ll face No. 2 Orlando Christian Prep in the regional quarterfinals.

After Thursday’s quarterfinals, the semifinals will be set for Tuesday, Feb. 20.

The playoffs will culminate with the state’s final four. Classes 1A-4A will descend on the RP Funding Center in Lakeland from Feb. 27-March 2. Classes 5A-7A will wrap up March 6-9.

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(Note: Game times are subject to change upon agreement by both schools and FHSAA approval.)

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