Gainesville – With no state titles for the north central Florida region, the top overall team in the Prep Zone Power Poll remained the same.
A total of seven area teams advanced to the FHSAA Boys’ Basketball Finals in Lakeland, but none of them brought back a state title, including Providence (Jacksonville), which has been ranked #1 all season long in the poll and has been nationally-ranked for much of the season too.
However, it was still a banner year for many programs.
The Stallions (26-5) lost to unbeaten & eventual 3A state champion Sagemont, 78-59, in the state semifinals. The defending 3A state champions finished first in the final poll and received six of the seven first-place votes.
Previous No. 3 Lake Minneola lost to Miami Norland, 60-44, in the 6A title game, but moved up one spot in the final poll to finish second. The state runner-up Hawks (28-4), playing in their first-ever postseason, received the other first-place vote.
Another state runner-up, Ribault (Jacksonville), finished third. The Trojans (30-4) lost to two-time state champion Lake Highland Prep (Orlando), 58-53, in the 4A title game. It was their first state championship game appearance since 2005 when the late Bernard Wilkes was the head coach.
Ed White (Jacksonville) advanced to its first state semifinal in school history where it lost to eventual state champion Miami Norland, 68-40. The 6A Commanders (25-5) moved up one spot to fourth in the final poll.
Sandalwood (Jacksonville) rounds out the top five. The Saints (26-3) actually dropped three spots from second after losing to eventual 8A runners-up Evans (Orlando), 67-41, in the 8A-Region 1 Final. However, it was their first regional final in school history.
Following their first state semifinal appearance since 2006 when they won the 5A state title, the Eastside (Gainesville) Rams moved up three spots to finish sixth. The Rams (24-7) lost to eventual 6A state runner-up Lakewood (St. Pete), 60-46, in the 5A state semifinals, and they defeated #7 Citrus (Inverness) and #15 Nature Coast (Brooksville) (22-8) in the postseason to get there.
Citrus (26-3) is followed by 1A semifinalist Chiefland (26-2), Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (21-9) and Gainesville (21-8) in the top 10. It was Chiefland’s first-ever trip to the state semifinals in program history.
Vanguard (Ocala) (19-10), which made its first postseason since 2004, begins the next 10 at No. 11, followed by Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (23-5), 1A state runners-up Hamilton County (Jasper) (19-8), Bolles (Jacksonville) (26-1), which got upset in the 4A regional quarterfinals, and No. 15 Nature Coast, which moved up four spots in the final poll.
Fort White (26-3), which won its first district title in program history, is ranked No. 16, followed by The Villages (25-3), Eustis (22-8), and Santa Fe (Alachua) (18-13) & Hawthorne (22-6), who are tied for 19th.
Forrest (Jacksonville) (18-10), which won its first postseason game since 1982, is receiving votes, along with 6A Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (22-6) and 8A DeLand (21-9).
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, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, Sumter, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union & Volusia counties). It is voted on weekly by sportswriters and sportscasters.
PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2013-14 BASKETBALL POLL #10 (FINAL)
(School, followed by first-place votes, classification, final record and total voting points)
1. Providence (Jacksonville) (6) (3A) (26-5) – 139
2. Lake Minneola (1) (6A) (28-4) – 132
3. Ribault (Jacksonville) (4A) (30-4) – 128
4. Ed White (Jacksonville) (6A) (25-5) – 116
5. Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (8A) (26-3) – 112
6. Eastside (Gainesville) (5A) (24-7) – 105
7. Citrus (Inverness) (5A) (26-3) – 88
8. Chiefland (1A) (26-2) – 87
9. Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (5A) (21-9) – 77
10. Gainesville (6A) (21-8) – 71
11. Vanguard (Ocala) (6A) (19-10) – 55
12. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (5A) (23-5) – 51
13. Hamilton County (Jasper) (1A) (19-8) – 50
14. Bolles (Jacksonville) (4A) (26-1) – 47
15. Nature Coast (Brooksville) (5A) (22-8) – 46
16. Fort White (4A) (26-3) – 43
17. The Villages (4A) (25-3) – 31
18. Eustis (5A) (22-8) – 30
T19 Santa Fe (Alachua) (18-13) – 17
T19 Hawthorne (1A) (22-6) – 17
Also receiving votes: Forrest (Jacksonville) (6A) (18-10) – 11; DeLand (8A) (21-9) – 10; Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (6A) (22-6) – 7.