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The Prep Zone Power Poll powered by Strive Fitness – 2017-18 Boys Basketball Poll #10 (FINAL)


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Strive Fitness – George Koziara

Leesburg finishes as unanimous top-ranked team after defending 6A state title

GAINESVILLE — As the 2017-18 boys’ basketball season has drawn to a close, there can be no doubt who will be the #1 team in The Prep Zone Power Poll’s final ranking.

Leesburg was the wire-to-wire top-ranked team, and capped off a 29-1 season with their second consecutive Class 6A state title. The Yellow Jackets, whose only loss came to West Oaks Academy (Orlando) in the fourth game of the season, finished the year with a 26-game winning streak.

They romped over their three Region 4 opponents by a combined 114 points to advance back to Lakeland. The Yellow Jackets had to rally from a nine-point deficit to hold off Booker (Sarasota), 62-61, in the state semifinal game.

In the championship game against Rickards (Tallahassee), Leesburg never really pulled away but also never trailed in a 71-62 win that gave the Yellow Jackets their 3rd state championship since 2011.Leesburg Yellow Jackets

Leesburg received all seven first-place votes and finishes as the unanimous top-ranked team in the final all-classification regional rankings.

Finishing 2nd is 8A state runner-up Creekside (St. Johns).

The Knights (27-5) finally got over the hump of Lincoln (Tallahassee) in the Region 1-8A final, winning on the road 51-47 to advance to Lakeland for the first time in school history. After pulling away for a 78-59 win over Winter Haven in the state semifinal, Creekside ran into foul trouble in the state title game and came up short, 77-54, to Blanche Ely (Pompano Beach).

Palatka finishes third.

The Panthers (28-3) advanced to the 6A state semifinals for the second consecutive year after winning 64-51 at Ridgewood (New Port Richey) in the Region 2 final. Unlike their 2017 trip to the state semifinals, Palatka was in the game until the final minute before falling to Rickards, 55-51.

Gainesville is fourth. The Hurricanes (24-6) came up one game short of their third trip to Lakeland since 2013, dropping a heartbreaker, 54-52, to Choctaw (Fort Walton Beach) in the Region 1-7A final.

Rounding out the top five is 1A state champion Wildwood.

The Wildcats (23-7) climbed up 11 spots from the previous poll to finish in the top five after their first boys’ basketball state title since 1953. Wildwood, which was the 1A state runner-up in 2017, rallied past #T-7 Madison County, 65-63, in the state semifinals and held off Blountstown, 62-56, in the state championship game.

Eastside (Gainesville) leads off the second five. The Rams (23-6) stay put at 6th after being eliminated in the Region 2-6A semifinal, 48-45, by Palatka, which made back-to-back state semifinal appearances.

In a tie for 7th are two teams who both advanced to Lakeland.

Madison County (25-5) advanced to its first state semifinal in school history, but the Cowboys let a double digit second half lead slip away in a two-point loss to eventual 1A state champion Wildwood.

Tied with Madison County is 5A state runner-up Trinity Catholic (Ocala). The Celtics (22-9) won three Region 2 playoff games at home against Windermere Prep, Lake Highland Prep (Orlando), and Melbourne Central Catholic to advance to their first state semifinal appearance.

In Lakeland, Trinity Catholic held off Pensacola Catholic, 55-54, to advance to the state championship game. There the Celtics ran into a buzzsaw, losing 80-40 to University (Fort Lauderdale), which has been ranked as high as 3rd nationally by Max Preps.

The run to the state title game allowed Trinity Catholic to move up 12 spots from the previous poll.

Class 4A Providence (Jacksonville) and 7A Mainland (Daytona Beach) round out the top 10. Both the Stallions (23-6) and the Bucs (21-8) lost in their respective region finals.

New to the poll this week and leading off the second 10 is 4A state semifinalist P.K. Yonge (Gainesville).

The Blue Wave (18-12) knocked off Providence, 43-42, at home in the Region 1-4A final to advance to their first state semifinal appearance in 10 years. P.K. Yonge came up short in Lakeland, losing 52-48 to Master’s Academy (Oviedo), but it was enough to move the Blue Wave all the way to #11 to finish the season.

Also new to the poll is 2A state runner-up Impact Christian Academy (Jacksonville).

In only their second season with a varsity boys’ basketball program, the Lions (16-14) struggled through the regular season with a schedule that included many higher classification teams in Jacksonville. They really made an impact in the 2A playoffs, advancing to Lakeland after winning their two regional playoff games by a combined score of 132-66.

After knocking off fellow Duval County foe North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) in the state semifinal, the Lions came up short in the championship game, falling 59-46 to Miami Christian, which repeated as state champs.

The only team to drop out from the previous poll is Raines (Jacksonville).

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. It is powered by Strive Fitness.

(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, final record, and total voting points)
1. Leesburg (6A) (7) (29-1) – 140
2. Creekside (St. Johns) (8A) (27-5) – 131
3. Palatka (6A) (28-3) – 127
4. Gainesville (7A) (24-6) – 113
5. Wildwood (1A) (23-7) – 106
6. Eastside (Gainesville) (6A) (23-6) – 96
7T. Madison County (1A) (25-5) – 91
7T. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (5A) (22-9) – 91
9. Providence (Jacksonville) (4A) (23-6) – 90
10. Mainland (Daytona Beach) (7A) (21-8) – 65
11. P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) (4A) (18-12) – 62
12. Nature Coast (Brooksville) (6A) (26-3) – 57
13. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (8A) (20-8) – 53
14. Hawthorne (1A) (23-6) – 46
15. Bolles (Jacksonville) (5A) (23-8) – 31
16. DeLand (9A) (22-7) – 30
17. The Villages (5A) (20-8) – 28
18. First Coast (Jacksonville) (8A) (20-5) – 26
19. Impact Christian Academy (Jacksonville) (2A) (16-14) – 23
20. Englewood (Jacksonville) (7A) (23-5) – 20
Also receiving votes: North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) (2A) (20-8) – 18; Raines (Jacksonville) (5A) (20-8) – 9; Deltona (7A) (20-8) – 4; Ribault (Jacksonville) (6A) (14-14) – 3; Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (6A) (19-9) – 1; North Marion (Citra) (6A) (17-9) – 1.

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