The 2022 FHSAA boys basketball brackets are set and Hillsborough County is rolling into the postseason strong.
Sixteen schools are preparing for first-round games Thursday, including eight hosting as district champions.
Staying home will be Alonso (Class 7A Region 2), Newsome (7A-2), Wharton (6A-3), Bloomingdale (6A-3), Gaither (6A-3), King (5A-2), Tampa Catholic (3A-2) and Cambridge Christian (2A-3).
Qualifying with at-large bids are Sickles (7A-2), Plant City (7A-2), Sumner (6A-3), Leto (6A-3), Jesuit (5A-2), Berkeley Prep (3A-2), Brooks-DeBartolo (3A-2) and Universal Academy (2A-3).
Hillsborough’s deepest regions, in terms of qualifiers, are 6A-3 (five of eight) and 7A-2 (four of eight).
The former, 6A-3, is led by one of the county’s two No. 1 seeds: Wharton (25-2). The Wildcats dominated Hillsborough in the District 6A-10 title game, 69-32, and will host No. 8 Leto (17-9). The Falcons were upended in the District 6A-9 semis by eventual champ Gaither. The Cowboys (14-13) beat Largo in the title game 61-55 to earn the region’s No. 3 seed and a home date with No. 6 Sumner (15-8). The second-year Stingrays are playing in their first-ever postseason and qualified despite losing 57-46 to eventual District 6A-11 champion Bloomindale (17-11). The Bulls’ 64-52 title win over Manatee secured the No. 2 seed and a first-round meeting with No. 7 Wiregrass Ranch.
Hillsborough produced two district champs in Region 7A-2. Alonso (22-6) sped past East Lake in the District 7A-6 title game to earn the No. 3 seed and a battle against No. 6 Windemere (19-6). The Wolverines lost in the District 7A-5 semis against eventual champ and No. 1 seed Olympia, which beat Dr. Phillips in the title game. According to MaxPreps.com and FHSAA ratings, those three 7A-5 teams are among the top four in Class 7A. Newsome (18-7) edged Plant City (20-7) in the District 7A-7 title game 49-45 to claim the regional No. 4 seed. The Wolves now get to host No. 5 Dr. Phillips, ranked as the No. 1 team in Class 7A and the state (FHSAA programs), and 14th nationally (MaxPreps.com). Sickles (19-7) enters at No. 7 and will head to No. 2 Sarasota Riverview (20-7). Plant City opens with a date at No. 1 Olympia (20-7).
In Region 5A-2, it was a semifinal upset by King (17-10) over Jesuit (21-6) that shook up the bracket. The Lions went on to beat Blake 61-38 in the District 5A-8 championship to secure the No. 3 seed and a home game against No. 6 Auburndale (14-12). Jesuit enters as the No. 5 seed and will head north to District 5A-6 champ Zephyrhills (19-6). The bracket features another Tampa Bay area qualifier in No. 7 Springstead (22-5). The Eagles dropped a low-scoring District 5A-5 title game against Leesburg, 34-33, and the teams will play a Thursday night rematch at Leesburg (18-7).
The Region 3A-2 field features Hillsborough’s other No. 1 seed, Tampa Catholic. The Crusaders (19-7) won the District 3A-5 title 74-68 over Brooks-DeBartolo, setting up a home rematch against the No. 8 Phoenix (17-6). Another first-round rematch of a district final will be No. 6 Berkeley Prep (18-8) heading to No. 3 Admiral Farragut (11-8). The Blue Jackets beat the Buccaneers 64-51. This bracket features six Tampa Bay area programs, rounded out by two more Pinellas County squads in No. 5 Calvary Christian and No. 7 Northside Christian.
Earning a Hillsborough home date in Region 2A-3 was Cambridge Christian. The Lancers (14-13) upended top-seed Universal Academy (20-5) in the District 2A-10 final, 56-47. That win allows Cambridge to host No. 6 Canterbury (16-11), yet another Tampa Bay area program. No. 7 Universal Academy will head from Tampa to No. 2 Bradenton Christian (22-5). Giving the Tampa Bay area another representative in this bracket is No. 4 Zephyrhills Christian Academy. The Warriors (9-11) won the District 2A-9 title and get to host No. 5 Fort Myers Southwest Florida Christian (13-11).
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