TAMPA – The Robinson Knights play fast and try to catch their defenders off guard while the Jesuit Tigers play tactical basketball and pride themselves on being a scrappy group.
Tonight, the two Class 5A-District 9 rivals will meet for the fourth time this season in the Region-3 semifinal. Jesuit (23-5) won two of three matchups including the district championship, 64-61 on Feb. 5. Robinson (17-9) hung tough in that game, taking a one-point lead into the break.
After Jesuit defeated Lake Wales 51-41 and Robinson went to Sebring to pick up a 67-58 victory in the quarterfinal round, the matchup was set. This is just the second-ever regional game between Robinson and Jesuit. The first came in the same round, region semifinal in 2012 where Jesuit edged Robinson 63-53.
The Tigers are searching for its fourth state title and first since 2013 while the Knights are still hoping to add a state title to its resume. Robinson last appeared in a state final in 1980.
This is Jesuit’s fifth region semifinal appearance in the last six years. After losing to Gibbs 49-48 in overtime in last year’s region semifinal expect the Tigers to come out fired up for this one.
For Robinson, this is just their third region semifinal appearance since 2004. The last came in 2012 against Jesuit.
Robinson has one of the fastest backcourt duos in senior guards Iyan Mitchell and J.J. Henderson. Both Mitchell and Henderson were starters on the Knights’ football team and fly on the court just like they do on the grass.
Mitchell has been the most consistent scorer for this group with a team-high 16 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.4 steals per game. Henderson averages 9.1 points per game and plays with a high-intensity.
Here’s a clip of an impressive Mitchell driving layup that cut the deficit to three in the fourth quarter against Jesuit in the district final.
Also, senior center Francisco Mediavilla can do damage down low with an average of 10.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
Jesuit has four players who averaged eight or more points behind junior riser, forward Stevie Darst’s 16-point per game average. Senior post players Lee Green and Ryan Fleming each average eight or more points while senior point guard D.J. Snyder and junior wing Tyson Dunn average around the same.
Darst makes the tough points count and quite frankly is the best overall shooter on this team. He had 23 points against Lake Wales and 16 versus Robinson in the district final. He plays a poised style of basketball.
Snyder has made big plays throughout the playoffs whether it’s attacking the basket with his layup or on the glass as a crafty rebounder. He has nine and 15 points over his last two outings and against Robinson he added nine points in the fourth quarter alone to help pull out the team’s fifth straight district title.
Green can get into the zone when he finds space down low or on the outside with his jumper while Fleming is a hustler on the boards and Dunn can flat out stroke the triple.
This should be yet another tight fought matchup. Two other guys to keep an eye on are Robinson junior Kris Terry (4.4 PPG) and Jesuit sophomore guard Thierry Moliere (5.0 PPG). Terry added 12 points in the district title game while Moliere gives his team plenty of energy off the bench.
Note: The winner advances to Friday’s region final against either Southeast (20-8) or Mariner (24-3).
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @Jake_Perper.