No matter the time of year or venue, basketball powerhouses and cross-town rivals Dillard and Blanche Ely never pass up an opportunity to one-up each other.
Although it's only the preseason, a playoff-type atmosphere is expected Thursday inside the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Hollywood when the longtime rivals open the High School Eligible Fall League playoffs.
Since league rules mandate players cannot play under their high school names, Dillard players are entered as the Roadrunners and Ely as the Tigers.
It will be another intriguing matchup between a Roadrunners' frontcourt anchored by 6-8 junior Stephon Blair and 6-5 bookend wings Fred Landers and Jeremiah Eason against a quicker Tigers squad that features 6-6 forward Clide Geffrard, 6-5 Germain Decoste and 6-3 guard Anterio Smith.
That Smith has created a buzz in league play is welcome news to a Tigers team that lost two All-Broward first-team selections, including 2009-10 Broward Player of the Year Fredrick Conner, to graduation.
The Roadrunners seeking to avenge a loss to the Tigers on Sept. 30 sets the stage for what should be a highly entertaining playoff series split between the MLK Center and Washington Park Community Center. In the fourth and final opening game at MLK, rising 6-4 guard Terence Johnson and the Bucks (Deerfield Beach) face the Flying L's (Fort Lauderdale) at 8.
The other side of the bracket at Washington Park features several other top prospects. Miami Lakes' Maurice Williams and 6-11 center Adrian Diaz face Florida Bible at 5 and McArthur 6-6 wing Angel Desiderio squares off against Hallandale 6-8 power forward Zuberi Floyd at 6.
Under league director Richard Walker, who has been part of six state championships as South Broward girls' coach, the City of Hollywood Police Athletic league-sponsored league has offered a sneak peek at some of the state's top prospects and teams.
On Oct. 20, the girls' playoffs begins with Dr. Krop and Ieshia Small facing Ely at 7, followed by a prime-time matchup of the reigning 5A state champion Dillard (Roadrunners), led by Memphis commit Lauren McGraw and T'Keyah Williams against six-time state champions South Broward (Eagles) with Danielle Robinson and Kiara Shoats.