TAMPA — Berkeley Prep and Orlando Lake Highland Prep, two of the highest-ranked boys basketball teams in Florida, are expected to meet in the Class 4A state semifinals at the Lakeland Center in March.
Tonight at 8 will simply serve as a prelude.
Both programs defeated their respective opponents rather easily Friday night on the first day of the 11th annual Berkeley Basketball Invitational, setting up tonight’s marquee matchup between the undefeated Buccaneers and defending state champion Highlanders.
Berkeley Prep, which won the prestigious Kingdom of the Sun tournament championship in Ocala on Monday and is the top-ranked team in 4A, beat Pinecrest Gulliver Prep, 63-40, in the final game of the day while Lake Highland Prep defeated Miami Ransom Everglades, 73-50.
Senior guard Craig Bowman led Berkeley Prep with 20 points while Joel Berry, the state’s top-rated player and third-best point guard in the nation who has signed with North Carolina, led Lake Highland Prep with 18 points and five assists.
“At this point in the season, it doesn’t really matter who is ranked what,” said Berkeley Prep coach Bobby Reinhart. “They have the best player in the state and we’re lucky to have an opportunity to play a team like that.”
Lake Highland Prep defeated Berkeley, 76-72, in last year’s invite.
“This is a statement game for us,” said Berkeley Prep senior guard Justin Gray, who was named MVP of the Kingdom of the Sun tournament. “It’s a statement game to show we’re the top team in 4A. To be the best, you have to beat the best.”
Trey Mourning, son of former NBA and Georgetown University center Alonzo Mourning, led Ransom Everglades with 34 points.
Preceding the marquee game will be a matchup between Tampa Prep and Jesuit, which have won state titles the past two years, at 6 p.m.
TAMPA CATHOLIC 71, KATHLEEN 65
Chivarsky Corbett had 21 points, Thomas Dziagwa had 20 and Sam Harris added 16 points as Tampa Catholic handed Lakeland Kathleen its first loss of the season. Kevin Wilson led Kathleen with 19 points.
JESUIT 54, CARDINAL MOONEY 52
Daniel Darst made two throws with six seconds remaining to give the Tigers the win. Christian Whidden led Jesuit with 25 points. Sarasota Cardinal Mooney, led by Justin Najmy’s 19 points, missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
COMMUNITY SCHOOL OF NAPLES 58, TAMPA PREP 48