Jesuit’s winter sports teams - soccer, basketball, and wrestling - all have reached the culmination of fantastic seasons and are seeking State Championships this week.
Thursday (March 4) in Lakeland at 4:00pm at the RP Funding Center, site of the basketball State Tournament, Jesuit (25-4) plays a State Semifinal v. Pembroke Pines Charter (click for tickets to State basketball). The Tigers have been road warriors, winning three straight Region playoff games away from the Tiger Palace, including upset wins at Clearwater (63-49) and, in the Region Final, at Naples (59-56), the state’s No. 2-ranked team in Class 5A.
Jesuit basketball, under head coach Neal Goldman, is making the program's 11th State Semifinal appearance and trying for its 4th State title, which would give it the most boys basketball State crowns of any school in Tampa Bay area history. In the Region Final at Naples, the Tigers led almost from wire-to-wire thanks in large part to Jack Delp ’21 making 6-of-7 3-pointers. With the game tied at 53 with a minute to go, leading scorer Ryan Weir ’21 made a long 3, but after Naples tied it again, Joe Pesansky ’21 drained another 3-pointer to provide the winning margin for Jesuit.
Click here for a story by Scott Purks of the Tampa Bay Times about how the JV basketball team saved the season for the Varsity team during the District Tournament. If the Tigers win Thursday they will play for the 5A title on Saturday at 3:00pm v. the winner of Fort Walton Beach Choctawhatchee-Leesburg. Live stream semifinal coverage will be on the NFHS Network, and the final will be live streamed on Spectrum Sports.
Jesuit soccer, under head coach Eric Sims '95, is having another historic season in the wake of winning its 7th State Championship in 2020. The Tigers are 17-1-2, ranked No. 1 among all schools in Florida by MaxPreps, and adding to their state-record totals for Region-State playoff games played (now 116) and wins (87). They will play for the program’s 8th State Championship on Saturday at 4:00pm at Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand. It will be an all-Jesuit showdown for the Class 5A title v. Belen Jesuit of Miami (17-3-1), which last won a soccer State title in 2016. The Tigers advanced with a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Jacksonville Stanton Prep in a State Semifinal on Saturday (Feb. 26).
A potent defense led by Aiden Miles ’22 , Brandon Robertson ’21, and goalkeeper Phillip Falcon ’23, a strong midfield led by Baylen Young ’22 (12 goals, 19 assists), and a balanced scoring attack – four players with nine goals or more including Aris Pantzalis ’21 (10), Kellan Kirkpatrick-McMullen ’21 (9) and Hyatt Sbar ’21 (9) – have propelled the Tigers and overcome the loss of Christian Fairchild ’22, who had 8 goals in the first 5 games before sustaining a season-ending injury. Jesuit has 13 shutouts and has outscored opponents 63-11. The championship game can be viewed via live stream on Spectrum Sports.
Jesuit wrestling, under head coach Sal Basile, has finished as runner-up for the State Tournament team title the past two years (the Tigers were State Duals Champions in 2020). This weekend, several wrestlers are vying for individual championships on Friday-Saturday at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.
Braden Basile '22 (38-0, 126 pounds) and Tom Crook '22 (37-0, 138) are looking to cap off unbeaten seasons and win their 3rd individual State titles. Both will face very strong competition as they seek to become the first three-time wrestling State Champions from Jesuit.
Five other Tigers advanced to State and will be looking to reach the podium (top 6) and contend for a State title. Jack Crook ’22 (38-0, 145) is ranked No. 1 in his weight class, and Sergio Desiante ’22 (37-1, 160), Danny Vargas ’22 (24-4, 113), Chris Albo ’21 (31-7, 120), and Joey Santana ’21 (28-7, 182) also will be striving for strong finishes.
Please view below a photo slideshow from the soccer team’s 2-1 win over Jacksonville Stanton Prep in the State Semifinal.