On paper, the Sebring Blue Streaks shouldn’t have any problem with the Spoto Spartans in tonight’s Class 6A regional quarterfinal game. But games are played on the hardwood and Sebring coach Princeton Harris knows his team has to show up ready to go.
“All year long all we’ve wanted them to do is play hard and to compete,” Harris said.
Spoto sports an 11-10 overall record and finished third in the Class 6A-District 9 standings with a 3-5 record, but pulled an upset over 6-2 Robinson in the district tournament before falling to Jesuit in the finals. While Spoto’s overall record isn’t that impressive, the Spartans lost three games by five or fewer points and another that went to overtime.
Spoto played several strong games on the road, with a 52-50 loss to a pretty good Newsome team an indication the Spartans are capable of playing tough.
Niles Bright is the team’s leading scorer at 21.4 points per game, while the Spartans have several others who average in double figures. Bright averages seven 3-point attempts per game and shot 46 percent from long range, so the Blue Streaks will have to keep a defender in his face.
The Blue Streaks didn’t blow either opponent away in the district tournament, defeating Hardee 61-56 and taking a 56-54 victory over Booker. While Harris likes the defensive effort, he wouldn’t mind seeing a few more points on the scoreboard, but it’s hard to argue too much with a fourth straight district title and a home game to open regional action.
The Blue Streaks can pose plenty of problems for opposing defenses, having the ability to score inside or outside. Big man Joseph Nobles led the Blue Streaks with 14.8 points per game, with CJ Harris next at 14.5 points and Norris Taylor averaged 12.6 points per game. Nobles averaged 13.1 rebounds per game and freshman Eric Brown pulled down 11 rebounds a game to go along with his 9.0 points per contest.
While the Blue Streaks can score, it’s the team’s defense that is the key to making a run in the playoffs. The Blue Streaks average 13 steals and 6.1 blocks per game, while limiting the opposition to just under 55 points per game.
With a victory, the Blue Streaks will advance to play the winner of tonight’s Jesuit vs. Booker game on Tuesday.
“We’d love to see everybody come out and support the team,” Coach Harris said. “We appreciate all of the support we’ve gotten and hope to see a full house again.”
Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.