Sports Editor

Osceola begins its chase for a sixth consecutive District 9A-7 title on Wednesday; the Kowboys just can’t gameplan for their opponent yet.

They’ll get the winner of Monday’s 7 p.m. game between Gateway and Ridge. The host Panthers have won six straight games to get to 13-10. They took Osceola to overtime on Jan. 8 at OHS before falling, so a matchup with the Kowboys is ideal, but maybe not in the district semifinals with a regional playoff berth on the line, Coach Travis James said.

“We are finally playing pretty well. I was hoping to be opposite of those guys down the road, so that we could have potentially had a in-county Championship,” he said. “ We have to beat Ridge to get to them first and maybe we can upset those guys.”

The championship game is Friday night at Gateway; George Jenkins and Haines City are on the other side of the bracket.

In District 8A-6, St. Cloud (No. 3) is the highest-seeded county team and hosts Liberty on Tuesday at 7. The winner gets the Hagerty-Tohopekaliga winner on Wednesday at 7:30 at Hagerty.

“When we have everyone healthy we play well,” Bulldogs Coach Jeff Bean said. “Last time we had Liberty beat (a 65-64 overtime loss on Jan. 25) but missed 16 free throws, including 9 in fourth quarter and OT. Then I think we match up well with Hagerty.

“Celebration went in hot last year and knocked off Melbourne hopefully we can get that run this year.”

Speaking of Celebration, last year’s 8A-6 runner-up, it hosts Harmony on Tuesday at 7 for the right to play the Melbourne-Viera winner on Wednesday at 5:30.

In District 6A-13, despite wins over all three teams seeded higher than them, Poinciana is the No. 4 seed and hosts Tavares at 7. The winner will take on top-seed Bishop Moore on Wednesday at 7.

The Eagles, 15-7 and winners of seven in a row going into Friday night’s home game against Osceola that settled the Orange Belt Conference championship (check aroundosceola.com this weekend for updates), beat Bishop Moore and No. 2 seed Leesburg, the defending Class 6A state champions, in a span of three days last month.