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South Florida Regional Playoff Preview: 4A

305 Sports is analyzing all of South Florida’s regional playoff tournaments by providing intel on each team, along with offering our favorites to advance into state semi-finals.

The FHSAA 4A Boys basketball regional bracket opens on February 18, with winning teams advancing to the semi-finals on February 23rd and finals taking place on February 26th.

Below is what to expect in Region 4:

Pine Crest Panthers

Headlined by the 2022 duo of Amen and Ausar Thompson, the Panthers are overwhelming favorites to reach the 4A Final Four. They’ve possessed a 16-1 record in the midst of the troubling pandemic, hinting that they don’t plan on cooling down anytime soon. Wins over Pembroke Pines Charter (77-62), Coral Gables (66-54) and Saint Andrew’s (74-46) shows everything about this team, and why they won’t be easy to upset.

Along with the brothers is senior guard Eros Carpio, who’s used his strength and sneaky athleticism to propel past opponents with ease. Together, the triad accumulates 53.3 points per game on average – Amen (22.6), Ausar (19.1), Carpio (11.6).

They’ll open up regionals with a contest versus Hallandale after recently defeating North Broward Prep 62-35 to capture the 4A District 13 championship.

North Broward Prep Eagles

The Eagles overcame an 0-4 start to the 2020-21 season to 13-6 entering regionals, showcasing their potential with wins over Saint Andrew’s (48-42), S.L.A.M (75-38) and Cardinal Gibbons (48-45).

Junior Justin Abson is the commander in chief of coach Wohlleb’s squad, garnering 16.2 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. With offers from FGCU, Troy and Stetson, the pressure’s on Abson and his group to defeat Somerset Academy in the opening round to likely take on Pine Crest in the semi-finals.

Somerset Academy Panthers

Even after losing Nathan Montaque – now at Indian River State College – their leading scorer last season (21.0 PPG), the Panthers were able to take down Carol City (61-50), Mater Lakes Academy (79-73) and Hallandale en route to a District 14 title.

Thanks to the contributions of seniors Jonathan Renois and David Delancy IV, coach Andrew Scott’s 7-12 squad will now host North Broward Prep in the regional quarter-finals. They open as underdogs, but could very well pull in another upset to their resume.

Hallandale Chargers

The Chargers, now 12-9 on the season, look to get past the hump of falling in the quarter-finals, having lost to Gulliver Prep 83-74 (OT) last year. However, it’ll be very unlikely, as they take on Pine Crest this upcoming Thursday.

Hallandale has been on the winning side as of late, having won five of their last seven games. That said, they’ll have their biggest challenge yet this week.

Miami Sunset Knights

Sunset’s journey to the 4A District 16 title was nowhere near easy, but they got it done. After defeating St. Brendan 71-38 in the opening round, they took on Keys Gate in a thriller that took a last-second floater to determine a victor. Versus La-Salle, a group they had lost to earlier in the season, they came back down three points at halftime to ultimately force overtime, winning 57-55.

Entering regionals, the 13-7 Knights will have home-court advantage against Miami Edison. Depending on if they can continue their streaky shooting, Sunset’s season can end at any given moment.

Immaculata La-Salle Royal Lions

Coach Derrick De La Grana’s squad wasn’t expected to make it this far, considering La-Salle’s 3-12 record entering district play. But after convincing victories over Gulliver Prep (58-39) and Key West (76-57), the Lions found themselves competing for their first championship since 2012. However, they fell two points short, but with a chance of redemption.

La-Salle’s quarter-final contest will be against North Miami Beach, a team they haven’t played this season. A victory opens the door to a potential rematch versus Miami Sunset, and an opportunity to fight for a regional championship. They’ll need senior guard Emilio Ramirez to continue dominating offensively, having averaged 27.3 points during the Lions’ district-run.

North Miami Beach Chargers

The Chargers come off a 68-48 win over Edison, giving them the 4A District 15 championship. At 8-11, their quarter-final game versus La-Salle can go either way, with both having similar wins and losses through the season.

North Miami Beach is lucky to be on the bottom part of the Region 4 bracket, meaning that their shot at going for the regional title is easier for them than others.

Miami Edison Red Raiders

Edison, 6-8, will have their own shot at vindication, starting with a trip to Miami Sunset this week. Like NMB-ILS, that game could go down to the wire, with the best of both teams put on display.

Junior Anthaurio Fredrick leads the Red Raiders in scoring this season (18.0), while senior Corey Holmes racks in 13.7 rebounds a night. They look to get the best of that duo versus the Knights.

Prediction: Pine Crest

I see the bottom-side of the bracket – featuring La-Salle, Sunset, North Miami Beach – up for grabs, while Pine Crest likely cruises past Hallandale and North Broward Prep.

Ultimately, the region will belong to the Panthers, who fell short of doing so last season versus Gulliver Prep. There’ll be a lot to learn from each team in the region, with many returning players for the 2021-22 season.

Michael Yero covers all of South Florida’s major pro teams, along with high school sports for 305 Sports. He also covers sports for Immaculata-La Salle High School’s student newspaper, the Royal Courier.

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