The Prep Zone Power Poll powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville – Boys’ Basketball Poll #1 (PRESEASON RANKINGS)

anytimefitness_gainesvilleFour teams receive a first-place vote in regional preseason hoops rankings

GAINESVILLE – It’s the usual suspects at the top of The Prep Zone Power Poll in the first regional basketball rankings of the season.

Tradition-rich Ribault (Jacksonville), which has won four state titles and is third all-time with 20 consecutive postseason appearances, received one of the six first-place votes to edge No. 2 Creekside (St. Johns) for the top spot.Ribault Trojans

The Trojans (6-0), ranked 10th overall in Florida by MaxPreps, have gotten off to a good start under first-year coach Claude Harold with wins against Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville), which is ranked 7th, Raines (Jacksonville), and Tri-Cities (GA), ranked 26th in Georgia by MaxPreps.

Last year, the Knights (7-0) made a run to the 7A regional finals before falling at Lincoln (Tallahassee) by three and finishing with a 24-6 record. They received two of the first-place votes and narrowly missed top-billing by just three voting points overall, 114-111.

Creekside may not have the tradition of top-ranked Ribault, as their school wasn’t founded until 2008, but the 2016-17 season is off to a great start with wins over Flagler Palm Coast, at Ponte Vedra, at Fleming Island (Orange Park), and Oakleaf (Orange Park). They are seeking their sixth state playoff appearance since the school opened.

Defending 4A state champion Bolles (Jacksonville) is ranked third. Despite losing their top two scorers, the Bulldogs (7-1), who won their first title since 1989 last season, are off to another good start under new coach Jason Hughes.

Bolles, which received one first-place vote, has wins at Wolfson (Jacksonville) and at North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville), along with home wins against Bradford (Starke) and Trinity Christian (Jacksonville). They finished No. 1 overall in the final regional rankings last year.

Unbeaten Vanguard (Ocala) lost four seniors from last year’s 21-8 team that lost to Gainesville in overtime in the 6A regional semifinals.

The Knights (4-0), ranked 4th in the preseason rankings, defeated GHS in overtime on Dec. 9. They are loaded with talent, returning leading scorer Quez Clayton and county assist and FT leader Phillip Ortiz, along with newcomer Devontae Bynes of Lake Weir, who led Marion County last year in scoring (20 PPG) and rebounding (9.5).

Rounding out the top five is perennial power Providence (Jacksonville), which lost in the regional finals last season but has won two states in the last four years.

Both of the Stallions’ (4-2) losses have been to unbeaten & 3A Runner-up Westminster Academy (Ft. Lauderdale), 62-60, and by only eight to Montverde Academy, considered one of the top teams in the country. Providence received the other first-place vote.

Gainesville, which lost its first game of the season in overtime at No. 4 Vanguard, is ranked sixth. The Purple Hurricanes (5-1) have been a regular in the postseason and a threat to make a run at the FHSAA final four under coach Kelly Beckham with three appearances, a state runner-up and one state title since 2009.

Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville), last year’s 5A state runners-up, is ranked seventh. The Crusaders (6-2) lost plenty of talent, including all-time leading scorer Christian Caryle, who is now at Florida Gulf Coast, but their only losses have been to top-ranked Ribault by three and to unbeaten Godby (Tallahassee).

The next team in the rankings, at No. 8, may not have the marquee name when it comes to hoops as some of the other teams have, but Atlantic (Port Orange) was ranked third in the state when it lost in the second round of the 6A state playoffs to eventual state semifinalist Deltona, finishing the season with a record of 27-3.

The Sharks (4-2), who have just one state semifinal appearance (2007) in their 20-plus years of existence, have wins over New Smyrna Beach and Mainland (Daytona Beach), with their only losses to 4A state-ranked The First Academy (Orlando) and 9A state-ranked Oak Ridge (Orlando).

Another Volusia County team, New Smyrna Beach, is ranked ninth. The Barracudas’ (6-1) only setback was an 8-point loss at Atlantic.

Rounding out the top 10 is The Villages. The unbeaten Buffalo (9-0) have rushed out of the gate with wins against No. 17 P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) and 7A Columbia (Lake City).

The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, basketball, baseball & softball teams (regardless of FHSAA classification) across 26 counties in North Florida (Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Madison, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, Sumter, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union & Volusia counties). It is voted on weekly by sportswriters and sportscasters.

PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2016-17 BOYS BASKETBALL POLL #1 (PRESEASON)
(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, record through 12/12, and total voting points)
1. Ribault (Jacksonville) (6A) (1) (6-0) – 114
2. Creekside (St. Johns) (8A) (2) (7-0) – 111
3. Bolles (Jacksonville) (5A) (1) (7-1) – 100
4. Vanguard (Ocala) (7A) (4-0) – 92
5. Providence (Jacksonville) (4A) (2) (3-3) – 91
6. Gainesville (7A) (5-1) – 82
7. Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (6A) (6-2) – 77
8. Atlantic (Port Orange) (7A) (4-2) – 59
9. New Smyrna Beach (7A) (6-1) – 53
10. The Villages (5A) (9-0) – 51
11. Nature Coast Tech (Brooksville) (6A) (4-0) – 47
12. DeLand (9A) (6-2) – 41
13. Hawthorne (1A) (5-1) – 34
14. Trinity Christian (Deltona) (3A) (8-1) – 33
15t. Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) (5A) (4-3) – 30
15t. Fernandina Beach (5A) (6-1) – 30
17t. Bell (1A) (8-0) – 26
17t. P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) (4A) (5-4) – 26
19. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (8A) (5-2) – 23
20. Wolfson (Jacksonville) (6A) (3-2) – 20
Also receiving votes: Terry Parker (Jacksonville) (6A) (4-0) – 16; Eastside (Gainesville) (6A) (2-0) – 16; Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) (4A) (5-2) – 13; Spruce Creek (Port Orange) (9A) (4-2) – 12; East Ridge (Clermont) (8A) (6-3) – 11; Forest (Ocala) (7A) (4-2) – 11; Williston (1A) (4-1) – 9; Hamilton County (Jasper) (1A) (4-2) – 7; Ponte Vedra (6A) (2-2) – 6; Bradford (Starke) (5A) (5-2) – 5; St. Francis Catholic (Gainesville) (3A) (6-2) – 4; Wildwood (1A) (6-0) – 3; Fort White (1A) (6-2) – 3; Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (6A) (3-1) – 2; First Coast (Jacksonville) (8A) (5-2) – 2.