Leesburg takes over as unanimous #1 team in the all-classification regional rankings following holiday tournament play
GAINESVILLE — As 2017 turns into 2018, there were plenty of holiday tournaments going on around The Prep Zone area. And with all of these games, there was some movement in the top 10 of The Prep Zone Power Poll.
But after the dust settled, one team remained at the top, and it’s unanimous this week.
Defending 6A state champion Leesburg (12-1) went 6-0 over the Christmas break, including winning The Battle of The Villages tournament, defeating Covington Catholic (Kentucky) in the semifinals and winning at #3 The Villages in the championship game, 74-61.
The Yellow Jackets also knocked off defending 7A state champion Dillard (Fort Lauderdale), 41-39, at the Dante Anderson Memorial Classic in Gainesville last Saturday. Leesburg received all five first-place votes this week
One of only two undefeated teams remaining in the poll is Palatka.
The Panthers (13-0) move up four spots to #2 after going a perfect 6-0 over the holidays, including defeating #19 North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville), 72-47, to win the Jarvis Williams Classic on their home court.
Moving up two spots to 3rd is The Villages.
The Buffalo (11-2) went 4-1 over the break with the only loss coming to #1 Leesburg, and they rallied to win a key District 5-5A game in overtime last Friday, 83-76, at #16 Trinity Catholic (Ocala).
Creekside (St. Johns) was the co-#1 team with Leesburg in the last poll, but they dropped to 4th after losing their first two games of the season. The Knights (12-2) lost 72-64 in overtime to Oviedo in the Ocoee Great 8 Tournament, and they also lost to #5 Gainesville, 69-58, at the Bradford Kiwanis Christmas Tournament in Starke.
Gainesville moves up two spots to round out the top five.
The Purple Hurricanes (12-4) won the Bradford Kiwanis Christmas Tournament, beating Creekside and then-#19 Bradford (Starke) to win the title. The ‘Canes dropped two games at the Kingdom of the Sun in Ocala, to eventual tourney champ and defending Georgia 5A state champion Buford, and to defending 3A state champion Orlando Christian Prep.
GHS defeated Buchholz (Gainesville) in overtime, and to Bradford by two points, in the last week.
Eastside (Gainesville) and Providence (Jacksonville) are tied for 6th this week, with the only other unbeaten team remaining, Nature Coast (Brooksville), now 8th.
Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) and Hawthorne round out the top 10.
Moving into the poll this week at #14 is First Coast (Jacksonville).
The Buccaneers (11-2) were 6-0 over the holidays, with wins against #15 Raines (Jacksonville), NFEI, and two teams that were receiving votes in Ribault (Jacksonville) and Fletcher (Neptune Beach).
Trinity Catholic (Ocala) is also new to the poll at #16, and Bolles (Jacksonville) moves back in as they are tied for 17th with Vanguard (Ocala). The Knights stay in the poll despite a 9-6 record as they finished runner-up at the Kingdom of the Sun to Buford (GA).
NFEI also moves in this week at No. 19.
Dropping out from the previous poll is Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville), P.K. Yonge (Gainesville), Bradford (Starke) and Mainland (Daytona Beach).
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.
THE PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2017-18 BOYS BASKETBALL POLL #4
(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, record through 1/9, and total voting points)
1. Leesburg (6A) (5) (12-1) – 100
2. Palatka (6A) (14-0) – 94
3. The Villages (5A) (11-2) – 88
4. Creekside (St. Johns) (8A) (12-2) – 85
5. Gainesville (7A) (12-4) – 79
T-6. Eastside (Gainesville) (6A) (11-2) – 71
T-6. Providence (Jacksonville) (4A) (10-4) – 71
8. Nature Coast (Brooksville) (6A) (15-0) – 66
9. Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (6A) (12-3) – 57
10. Hawthorne (1A) (11-4) – 51
11. Wildwood (1A) (9-3) – 46
12. Atlantic (Port Orange) (7A) (13-3) – 54
13. Englewood (Jacksonville) (7A) (10-2) – 40
14. First Coast (Jacksonville) (8A) (11-2) – 34
15. Raines (Jacksonville) (5A) (10-4) – 25
16. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (5A) (11-4) – 16
T-17. Bolles (Jacksonville) (5A) (12-3) – 12
T-17. Vanguard (Ocala) (7A) (9-6) – 12
19. North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) (2A) (9-5) – 11
20. DeLand (9A) (10-4) – 10
Also receiving votes: Paxon (Jacksonville) (6A) (9-4) – 9; Madison County (1A) (10-2) – 8; Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) (5A) (7-6) – 6; Mainland (Daytona Beach) (7A) (8-3) – 6; Hamilton County (Jasper) (1A) (12-4) – 4; P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) (4A) (5-6) – 3; Father Lopez (Daytona Beach) (7A) (9-5) – 2.