Tonight at 7, the Clearwater and Sickles High boys basketball teams, tied for fifth in the final Class 5A state poll, will face off in the 5A-Region 3 championship at Sickles with a state final four berth on the line.
Clearwater, last year's 5A state runner-up, advanced with a 63-46 win over Gibbs. Sickles, making its first region final appearance, defeated third-ranked Punta Gorda Charlotte, 42-37.
Both sides expect an electric atmosphere.
"It will be pandemonium," Sickles junior guard Rashawn Rembert said. "Imagine (Tuesday's semifinal) times three."
"Obviously, it'll be a big game," Clearwater coach Allen Carden said. "I expect a big crowd there. We played over there in the summer and the fall, so we've seen them and they've seen us. It's going to be a real exciting game, and the premier place to be on Saturday night,"
Clearwater (24-6) has been led by its four-star Florida State signee, 6-foot-9 senior forward Okaro White, who scores 17.4 points and grabs 9.4 rebounds per game.
Rembert has led Sickles (27-2) with 23.1 points per game, while senior point guard Jordan Davis, who this week was named the FACA District 13 (Hillsborough County) Player of the Year, adds 15 points and 8.0 assists per game.
"We obviously have a lot of respect for Clearwater's team," Sickles coach Renaldo Garcia said. "A team with that much talent and that much tradition, we're fully aware of the type of team they are. We're excited about the opportunity to play them. They have a really good basketball team."
Class 6A-Region 2
WHO: St. Petersburg (23-6) at Orlando Dr. Phillips (24-5), 4 p.m.
OUTLOOK: St. Petersburg advanced to the region final with a 61-44 win over Wharton. The Green Devils are making their first region final appearance since 1972. ... Dr. Phillips is ranked third in the final 6A poll and has been led by highly recruited junior point guard Shane Larkin.
Class 4A-Region 3
WHO: Fort Myers (25-5) at St. Pete Lakewood (15-7), 7 p.m.
OUTLOOK: Ft. Myers entered the region playoffs ranked No. 1 in 4A. Junior guard Evin Graham, one of the top juniors in the state, leads the Green Wave with 13.5 points and 4.8 assists per game. Senior guard LaDarius Barnes scored 39 points to lead Lakewood against Blake in the region semifinals. The Spartans reached the 5A state title game in 2008.
Class 2A-Region 3
WHO: Tampa Prep (25-4) at Naples Community School (24-5), 7 p.m.
OUTLOOK: For the fifth time this decade, Tampa Prep's road to the state final four will go through Naples Community School. ... In 2007 and 2009, the Terrapins played at Naples in the 2A region final, with the Terrapins winning both contests, 45-35 and 58-42. In 2005 and 2006, Tampa Prep faced its postseason rival in the 2A region quarterfinals. Community School eliminated the Terrapins from the 2A tournament in 2006 with a 43-42 win. ... The Terrapins have sailed through the first two rounds of the regional playoffs this season, outscoring its opponents by an average of 50 points per game. Senior forward Jay Bowie leads Tampa Prep with 16.3 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Senior guard Jamal Cherry adds 13.3 points while sophomore guard Devontae Morgan is averaging 10.8 points per game.