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The Prep Zone Power Poll powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville – Boys’ Basketball FINAL POLL

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anytimefitness_gainesvilleDespite state championship game loss, Providence (Jacksonville) finishes #1 in final regional boys’ basketball rankings

GAINESVILLE — Only one boys’ basketball team from the Prep Zone area brought home a state title to finish the 2016-17 season.

But the team at the top of The Prep Zone Power Poll final rankings lost in their bid for a state title.

ProvidenceDespite losing 57-43 to Westminster Academy (Fort Lauderdale) in the 4A state championship game, the Providence (Jacksonville) Stallions finish as the #1 team in the final regional rankings.

Providence, which had a 16-game winning streak snapped in the title game, still received six of the eight first place votes as they finished their season just short of a fourth state title and with a final record of 25-6.

Leesburg, the only state champion in the area, finished second.

The Yellow Jackets (23-6) captured the 6A state title, the third in school history, with a 57-53 win over Mariner (Cape Coral) in the championship game at the Lakeland Center. Leesburg defeated fourth-ranked Ribault (Jacksonville), 70-64 in the state semifinal game, to advance to the championship against Mariner.

With the state title, their first since 2011, the Yellow Jackets received the other two first-place votes and moved up 11 spots from the previous poll which was taken after the opening round of the regional playoffs.

Class 7A Vanguard (Ocala) finished third following their best season in decades.

The Knights (24-7) advanced to the state semifinals for the first time since 1982, as they won three regional playoff games at home, including a 76-62 win over Gainesville in the region semifinal and 66-52 against Choctawhatchee (Fort Walton Beach) in the Region 1-7A final. Vanguard was within a point of eventual 7A state champion Dillard (Fort Lauderdale) in the state semifinals in Lakeland before eventually losing, 79-54.

Ribault is 4th after advancing to its first state semifinal appearance since 2014. The Trojans (24-7) committed 38 turnovers in the loss in Lakeland to eventual 6A state champion Leesburg.

Rounding out the top five is The Villages, which made its first state semifinal appearance in school history. The Buffalo (28-3) won at defending 3A state champion Windermere Prep in the region semifinal and held off Melbourne Central Catholic 68-63 in the Region 2-5A final.

In Lakeland, they ran into red-hot Kevin Knox and eventual 5A state runner-up Tampa Catholic, and their season ended with a 92-67 loss in the state semifinals as Knox scored 40 points, including 7-for-7 from three-point range.

Leading off the second five is Creekside (St. Johns).

The Knights (26-4) lost to eventual 8A state runner-up Lincoln (Tallahassee) for the second straight year in a region final game. After losing on the road in Tallahassee in last year’s Region 1-7A final, Creekside lost a heart-breaker, 62-61 in overtime this year at home, to bring their season to an end one game short of Lakeland. The Knights were ranked 2nd in the previous poll.

State semifinalist Hawthorne finishes seventh. The Hornets (24-6) advanced to their fourth state semifinal appearance in six years but were eliminated 55-38 in Lakeland by eventual 1A state champion West Gadsden (Greensboro).

Finishing tied for 8th is Nature Coast Tech (Brooksville) and Gainesville.

For Nature Coast Tech (27-2), their season came to an end in the Region 2-6A final 50-43 at Palatka. They didn’t lose their first game of the season until the district championship game, falling to No. 20 Central (Brooksville), 67-59, in the 6A-District 7 championship game and sending the Sharks on the road for the postseason, where they finally fell to the Panthers one game shy of the state semifinals.

Gainesville (25-4) was eliminated in the 7A region semifinal round at Vanguard. Three of the four losses for the Purple Hurricanes in the 2016-17 season came against the Knights.

Rounding out the top 10 is 1A state runner-up Wildwood. The Wildcats (25-4) defeated Dixie County (Cross City) 85-69 in the Region 4-1A final to advance to Lakeland, where Wildwood slipped past Graceville, 69-62 in overtime, to advance to the state title game.

Wildwood came up short in the 1A state championship game 68-48 to West Gadsden.

Among the highlights of the second 10 are Palatka, which finished tied for 12th with P.K. Yonge (Gainesville). The Panthers (21-9) advanced to the 6A state semifinals where they were beaten by Mariner. But that didn’t stop Palatka from moving up eight spots in the previous poll to their final ranking of T-12.

Finishing 14th is 3A state runner-up Trinity Christian (Deltona). The Eagles (22-9) got 43 points from 3A Player of the Year Amorie Archibald in an 80-71 win over Champagnat Catholic (Hialeah) in the state semifinals, before being blown out, 78-48, by Orlando Christian Prep in the 3A state championship game.

Moving in to this final poll are two 2A state semifinalists, North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) at #18 and Temple Christian (Jacksonville) at #19. It was the second state semifinal appearance for NFEI and first for Temple Christian, but both were beaten by a running clock in their respective state semifinal games.

Dropping out from the previous poll is Deltona and Atlantic (Port Orange).

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 FINAL POLL
(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, final record, and total voting points)
1. Providence (Jacksonville) (4A) (6) (25-6) – 158
2. Leesburg (6A) (2) (23-6) – 149
3. Vanguard (Ocala) (7A) (24-7) – 147
4. Ribault (Jacksonville) (6A) (24-7) – 129
5. The Villages (5A) (28-3) – 121
6. Creekside (St. Johns) (8A) (26-4) – 115
7. Hawthorne (1A) (24-6) – 94
T-8. Gainesville (7A) (25-4) – 90
T-8. Nature Coast (Brooksville) (6A) (27-2) – 90
10. Wildwood (1A) (25-4) – 88
11. Terry Parker (Jacksonville) (6A) (22-4) – 78
T-12. Palatka (6A) (21-9) – 71
T-12. P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) (4A) (19-8) – 71
14. Trinity Christian (Deltona) (3A) (22-9) – 66
15. Raines (Jacksonville) (5A) (20-10) – 60
16. Madison County (1A) (22-5) – 33
17. Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville) (8A) (17-8) – 25
18. North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) (2A) (21-9) – 19
19. Temple Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (25-4) – 18
20. Central (Brooksville) (6A) (20-10) – 16
Also receiving votes: Atlantic (Port Orange) (7A) (23-5) – 12; Santa Fe (Alachua) (6A) (18-11) – 6; Deltona (7A) (16-11) – 4; Flagler Palm Coast (9A) (17-12) – 2; Bell (1A) (22-6) – 1; First Coast (Jacksonville) (8A) (21-5) – 1; St. Francis Catholic Academy (Gainesville) (3A) (18-8) – 1.

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