Seffner Christian's boys basketball program has been to the playoffs 10 of the past 11 seasons. That postseason consistency has hardly been noticed.
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After all, the boys play at a school where the girls program is a fixture in the state semifinals with six appearances at the Lakeland Center in the past seven seasons, including its latest one last week.
This season was different. After years of obscurity, Seffner Christian's boys finally have the spotlight. The Crusaders are in the state semifinals for the first time and will play Westminster Christian at noon on Wednesday in Lakeland.
"The boys have been trying to reach that same level of success as the girls," said Seffner Christian coach Sam Moorer, who played at the school and was part of the school's first boys district championship team in 2007. "The girls have had incredible success. There's no jealousy. It's something we all admire and wanted to take that next step to get to the state tournament.
"We're glad we're finally here."
During the girls' run, the boys team has made the trek to the Lakeland Center to cheer them on. Reid Walker has been there for all of them. The senior forward's sister is Peyton, a stalwart for the girls program who was the state finals MVP in 2014.
The two often would play one-on-one. There was some banter during those sessions but Walker insists he received little teasing from his older sister about not being able to match her in state semifinal appearances.
"My parents are extremely happy. We're living up to our potential. At least now, I'll have even ground with my sister if we ever start to trash talk."
There are eight seniors on the boys team this season, some of whom have played together since middle school. So there was a sense of urgency to play on high school basketball's biggest stage in what was the last shot for many of them.
Moorer put together a schedule that yielded few easy nights. The Crusaders played eight games in the regular season against teams that made the playoffs. They also played in tournaments in Georgia and North Carolina against tough competition.
That experience helped Seffner Christian in last week's region final win against Orlando First Academy, which was ranked No. 1 in the state and had several Division I-A recruits.
"That was such an unbelievable feeling to win against First Academy and make it to states," senior forward Derek Webster said. "It was kind of depressing, watching the girls be the only ones to make it. We knew we had something special this year. Our schedule was the main reason we got there. We were prepared for anything."
The euphoria of getting there is over. Now the focus is on winning. The boys have leaned on the girls for advice on what it's like to play in the state semifinals.
"The girls have told us not to be nervous," Webster said. "We just have to go out there and play."
On Wednesday, it will be the girls' turn to yell for the boys.
With two more wins, the boys can supplant the girls by bringing home the school's first state title in any sport.
"That's the goal now," Walker said. "We don't just want to be here. We want to win it all."
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