The Prep Zone Power Poll – 2018-19 Boys Basketball Poll #8 (FINAL POLL)

PZ - square(white)University Christian (Jacksonville) finishes on top of regional poll as four different schools receive first-place votes

GAINESVILLE — Nine boys basketball teams in The Prep Zone coverage area advanced to the FHSAA Boys Basketball state championships in Lakeland for the 2018-19 season.

But only one of those teams, Madison County in 1A, brought a state title home from the games at the RP Funding Center last week.

Because of that, the final voting in the regional all-classification rankings were mixed, with four difference schools, including the state champion Cowboys, garnering first-place votes.

However, in the end, it is University Christian (Jacksonville) which finishes on top. The Christians (26-4) advanced to their first state semifinal appearance in school history but were beaten in Lakeland by Westminster Academy (Fort Lauderdale), 64-57. Westminster Academy won its third consecutive 4A state title the following day.

University Christian received two of the seven first-place votes and finish #1 after moving into the top spot for the first time this season in the previous poll.

U.C.S. barely outpointed 5A state runner-up Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville). The Tigers (25-7) moved up six spots from the previous poll and also received two first-place votes. Jackson won 20 of its last 23 games and advanced to the state semifinals for the first time since 2002.

The Tigers knocked off Tampa Catholic 69-55 in the state semifinal game before being beaten by nationally-ranked University (Fort Lauderdale) in the state title game. This was University’s second consecutive 5A state title.

Paxon (Jacksonville) finished 3rd. The Golden Eagles knocked off Rickards (Tallahassee) 62-59 in a Region 1-6A final to advance to the state semifinals for the first time since their only boys basketball state title in 1965. Paxon (26-4) was knocked off in Lakeland 61-49 by eventual 6A state runner-up Lakewood (St. Petersburg).University Christian

Another team making its first state semifinal appearance finished 4th. Fleming Island (Orange Park) entered the regional playoffs as a district runner-up after losing the District 4-8A title game at Oakleaf (Orange Park). But the Golden Eagles (22-3) won three regional playoff games – at #20 First Coast (Jacksonville), Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville), and Lincoln (Tallahassee) to advance to Lakeland for the first time in school history.

Fleming Island was knocked off in the 8A state semifinals 60-38 by eventual 8A state runner-up Lakewood Ranch (Bradenton), but stays put at 4th in the final poll.

Rounding out the top five is Palatka. The Panthers (25-5) just missed out on advancing to the state semifinals for the third straight year, losing 60-53 in the Region 2-6A final to #9 Nature Coast Tech (Brooksville). Despite this, Palatka receives two first-place votes and finishes in the top five.

Leading off the second five is 1A state champion Madison County. The Cowboys (26-3) knocked off #12 Hawthorne in the Region 4-1A final for the second straight year to advance back to Lakeland. Once there, Madison County defeated Paxton 63-51 in the state semifinals and rallied from a double-digit deficit in the first half to defeat defending 1A state champion #16 Wildwood 62-60 in overtime in the state title game.

Madison County, which won both the 1A football and boys basketball state title in the 2018-19 school year, received the other first place vote as they captured their first boy basketball state title.

The Villages finished 7th. The Buffalo (23-8), behind University of Florida signee Tre Mann, advanced to the 5A state semifinals for the second time in three years. But The Villages’ season ended there with a 91-53 loss to the eventual state champion University.

Mainland (Daytona Beach) falls three spots to #8. The Bucs (27-2) were the #1 team most of the regular season and through the district tournaments, but saw their season come to a premature end with a 49-47 loss at Auburndale in the Region 2-7A semifinals.

Coming in 9th is another Final Four team, Nature Coast Tech (Brooksville). The Sharks (24-7) knocked off Palatka in the Region 2-6A final to advance to Lakeland for the first time since 2012. Nature Coast Tech saw their season end there, 76-45, at the hands of eventual 6A state champion Stranahan (Fort Lauderdale), but still moves up six spots and into the top 10 of the final poll.

Rounding out the top 10 is Eastside (Gainesville). The Rams were considered a favorite to make it to the 6A state semifinals, but they lost, 61-60, to Palatka in the Region 2-6A semifinals. This was the third year in a row Eastside was eliminated in the regional playoffs by Palatka, but the Rams (26-3) still end up with a top 10 finish.

Among the highlights in the second 10 is Columbia (Lake City), which finishes 13th after advancing to the Region 1-8A final. The Tigers (17-13) won their first district title and first regional playoff games since 2000.

Class 1A state runner-up Wildwood finishes 16th after just missing back-to-back state titles. And 2A state runner-up North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) moves up two spots in the final poll to 18th. The Eagles advanced to their third straight state semifinal appearance and fourth overall, and made it to their first state championship game before coming up just short 71-67 to Central Florida Christian (Ocoee).

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.

THE PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2018-19 BOYS BASKETBALL POLL #8 (FINAL POLL)
(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, final record, and total voting points
1. University Christian (Jacksonville) (4A) (2) (26-4) – 129
2. Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) (5A) (2) (25-7) – 127
3. Paxon (Jacksonville) (6A) (25-4) – 124
4. Fleming Island (Orange Park) (8A) (22-3) – 118
5. Palatka (6A) (2) (25-4) – 107
6. Madison County (1A) (1) (26-3) – 104
7. The Villages (5A) (23-8) – 98
8. Mainland (Daytona Beach) (7A) (27-2) – 95
9. Nature Coast Tech (Brooksville) (6A) (24-7) – 73
10. Eastside (Gainesville) (6A) (26-3) – 72
11. Providence (Jacksonville) (4A) (23-5) – 65
12. Hawthorne (1A) (25-2) – 63
13. Columbia (Lake City) (7A) (17-13) – 60
14. P.K Yonge (Gainesville) (4A) (23-5) – 57
15. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (5A) (21-7) – 35
16. Wildwood (1A) (18-13) – 34
17. Eustis (6A) (20-9) – 26
18. North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) (2A) (16-14) – 22
19. Bolles (Jacksonville) (5A) (23-7) – 21
20. First Coast (Jacksonville) (8A) (20-7) – 20
Also receiving votes: Impact Christian Academy (Jacksonville) (2A) (20-5) – 10, Atlantic (Port Orange) (7A) (19-8) – 8; Santa Fe (Alachua) (6A) (19-9) – 4; Hilliard (1A) (20-7) – 2; Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) (4A) (16-9) – 1; Christ’s Church (Jacksonville) (3A) (19-7) – 1.