CAPE CORAL – Playing the role of the underdog against Cape Coral Mariner, the Jesuit Tigers will attempt to get back into the state tournament for the first time since 2013. That season marked Jesuit’s third and most recent state championship. Winning on the road is never easy especially in the Class 5A regional final.
The Tigers (24-5) are averaging 53.5 points per game in four playoff wins, but will face a Tritons (25-3) team that is allowing a school best 44 points per game. Mariner is a stingy defensive group that prides themselves on grabbing rebounds on both ends of the floor and attacking the paint at will.
Led by senior guard Isaiah Darrett (10.5 PPG), the Tritons can shoot from anywhere on the floor and pounding the inside is their strategy throughout. Junior Amari Haynes and sophomore Jahmel Myers stand at 6’8″ and 6’7″ respectively and cause matchup nightmares for most teams. Haynes averages 10.3 points per game and Myers adds 10.0 points per game.
Jesuit will have to do everything and more to hang around in this one considering Mariner is 10-1 on its home floor and 22-2 since last season. Centers, senior Lee Green and junior Will Anderson are the tallest players on the Tigers roster at 6’6″. Neither player is a dominant post player, but can make shots from outside. Senior Ryan Fleming (6’4″) is the best inside piece head coach Neal Goldman has.
For Jesuit, this is their first region final since 2013 as they put together a season-long winning streak of 10 games earlier this season. Mariner is back in the region final round for the third time in five years, losing its last two. The Tritons won a whopping 20 games in a row this season and are a tough out for anybody.
Averaging a team-high 17.5 points per game in the postseason and 15.9 points per game this season, Jesuit junior Stevie Darst has to knock down his jumpers and attack the paint to keep this team’s state dreams alive.
Senior point guard D.J. Snyder hustles on both ends of the floor, but has only scored 11 points in two region games after adding 25 in the district round. He needs to dictate the pace of this game as he sets up Darst, Fleming and Green.
Also, Junior wing Tyson Dunn can be a mismatch from long range where he excels. His favorite shot comes in either corner, so if Jesuit was smart they’d attack all night long.
Coach Goldman has been very savvy with his halftime adjustments. This game he’ll most certainly have to make halftime adjustments and possibly a big time pep talk.
They might not view themselves as the underdog and rightfully so because Jesuit has been here before, but to go on the road and beat a Mariner team that is not only lengthy but disciplined won’t be easy. This one will be a tough battle for the road Tigers.
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @Jake_Perper.