The Prep Zone Power Poll powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville – 2020-21 Boys Basketball Poll #8 (FINAL)

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Santa Fe (Alachua) finishes No. 1 in final boys’ basketball regional rankings after narrowly missing first state title

GAINESVILLE — The 2020-21 boys high school basketball season during the COVID-19 pandemic had plenty of twists and turns. Some teams had to shut down, some for a few games, some for a few weeks.

One team in the final all-classification regional rankings unfortunately couldn’t play its regional playoff game due to contact tracing.

The team which finishes at the top of The Prep Zone Power Poll, the Santa Fe (Alachua) Raiders, missed five games and two weeks at the end of January as well due to the virus.

But once they got back to playing, the Raiders (20-6) nearly won their first state boys basketball title in Class 4A.

Santa Fe defeated #5 Eastside (Gainesville), 41-40, for the District 5-4A title, then defeated Central (Brooksville) 58-37 in the opening round of the playoffs for a rematch with Eastside in Alachua.

Eastside was declared the winner of their Region 2-4A quarterfinal at #17 The Villages after The Buffalo were found to have COVID-19 issues. The Raiders knocked off Eastside for the third time this season, 41-31, in the region semifinal, then headed to Orlando and knocked off Lake Highland Prep 51-49 to advance to Lakeland and Santa Fe’s first state semifinal appearance since 2002.

In Lakeland, the Raiders survived foul trouble from NC State signee Ernest Ross and 33 points from West Nassau’s (Callahan) Deebo Coleman, who is headed to Georgia Tech, to win the state semifinal game, 64-63, and advance to their first-ever state championship game matchup, against Pine Crest (Fort Lauderdale).

Santa Fe trailed by 16 late in the third quarter but rallied to force overtime and led by eight points with a minute to go in the OT period. But Pine Crest rallied to force a second overtime and handed Santa Fe a heartbreaking 90-83 defeat.

Despite the loss in the state championship game, Santa Fe receives six of the nine first-place votes and moves up from 7th in the previous poll taken before the postseason to finish as the top-ranked team in the final rankings for boys basketball in 2020-21.

Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) ends up 2nd.

The Tigers (19-7), who were the 3A state runner-up in 2020, won three regional playoff games on the road, including at 58-37 win at No. 9 Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) in the Region 1-3A semifinal to advance to Lakeland for the third straight year.

Unfortunately, Andrew Jackson fell victim to a bad second quarter in the 3A state semifinal against Bishop McLaughlin (Spring Hill) and lost 79-71. The Tigers receive two first-place votes.

Class 1A state champion Wildwood finishes 3rd.

The Wildcats (22-7) captured their second state title in three years, winning four playoff games by an average of 17.5 points a contest. Wildwood defeated Williston and defending 1A state champion Hawthorne to win Region 4-1A, then blew out No. 16 Madison County 62-41.

They finished off the state championship with a 66-46 romp over previously undefeated Central (Milton) to take home another 1A crown. Wildwood received the final first-place vote in the poll.

West Nassau ends up 4th.

The Warriors (20-12) started the season 6-11, but led by Coleman, rolled off 14 wins in a row, including wins over No. 6 Paxon (Jacksonville) and Marianna to win Region 1-4A and advance to the final four for the first time in school history.

West Nassau played a classic game with Santa Fe in Lakeland, going back-and-forth before Santa Fe pulled it out with three seconds left. Despite that West Nassau moves up 12 spots from the previous rankings and into the top five of the final poll.

Eastside rounds out the top five. The Rams (20-3) lost all three games this season to Santa Fe, including 41-31 in the Region 2-4A semifinal.

Paxon (20-8) finishes sixth.

The Golden Eagles, who were a 4A state semifinalist a year ago, knocked off then-#1 Bolles (Jacksonville), 71-65, in the opening round of the 4A playoffs before being eliminated in a controversial ending in the regional semifinal at West Nassau, as an apparent buzzer-beater for Paxon was waved off.

Forest (Ocala) moves up a couple of spots to finish 7th after the Wildcats (18-7) advanced to their first state semifinal appearance since 1973. They knocked off #19T Fleming Island (Orange Park), No. 18 Fletcher (Neptune Beach), and Lincoln (Tallahassee) with a three-pointer at the buzzer to win Region 1-7A for their first final four trip in 48 years.

The Wildcats’ season ended with a loss to Bartow, who won their second straight 6A state title, but it was a historic season at Forest.

Following Bolles at No. 8 and 9th-ranked Bishop Snyder is #10 Ponte Vedra.

The Sharks (22-5) dropped their second-round game, 53-44, to No. 12 Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville). The Generals were eliminated in the Region 1-5A final by eventual 5A state runner-up Choctawhatchee (Fort Walton Beach).

Among the second 10 is No. 11 Impact Christian Academy (Jacksonville), which finished as the 2A state runner-up to Orlando Christian Prep for the second year in a row.

Leesburg moves into the final poll at No. 13 as they captured Region 2-5A with a win at Fivay (Hudson) and won a home game over Rockledge in the region final to advance back to Lakeland. The Yellow Jackets (16-5) were also eliminated by Choctaw with a 59-58 loss in the 5A state semifinal at RP Funding Center.

Class 1A state semifinalist Madison County moves into the final poll at No. 16, while Hawthorne is new to the rankings and is tied for 19th with Fleming Island (Orange Park).

Dropping out from the previous poll were Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville), Nease (Ponte Vedra), and Episcopal (Jacksonville).

The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, volleyball, girls basketball, boys 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 and it is powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville.

THE PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2020-21 BOYS BASKETBALL POLL #8 (FINAL POLL)
(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, final record, and total points)
1. Santa Fe (Alachua) (4A) (6) (20-6) – 176
2. Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) (3A) (2) (19-7) – 167
3. Wildwood (1A) (1) (22-7) – 134
4. West Nassau (Callahan) (4A) (20-12) – 128
5. Eastside (Gainesville) (4A) (20-3) – 127
6. Paxon (Jacksonville) (4A) (20-8) – 121
7. Forest (Ocala) (6A) (18-7) – 116
8. Bolles (Jacksonville) (4A) (20-5) – 111
9. Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) (3A) (20-9) – 103
10. Ponte Vedra (5A) (22-5) – 100
11. Impact Christian Academy (Jacksonville) (2A) (20-9) – 97
12. Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville) (5A) (19-10) – 96
13. Leesburg (5A) (16-5) – 90
14. Columbia (Lake City) (6A) (19-6) – 80
15. Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (21-5) – 41
16. Madison County (1A) (13-8) – 40
17. The Villages (4A) (19-7) – 34
18. Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (6A) (19-10) – 32
19T. Fleming Island (Orange Park) (6A) (17-11) – 20
19T. Hawthorne (1A) (13-10) – 20
Also receiving votes: Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (4A) (13-11) – 19; Episcopal (Jacksonville) (3A) (19-6) – 15; Williston (1A) (15-6) – 8; Nease (Ponte Vedra) (7A) (17-6) – 6; Mount Dora Christian Academy (2A) (21-7) – 5; University Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (16-12) – 3; St. Joseph Academy (St. Augustine) (3A) (17-8) – 1.