Last year, Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) guard Maddie Millar led Class 4A in 3-point shooting as the Crusaders advanced to the state final four for the second consecutive season, before falling to Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale).
Millar, who made 125 treys last year, helped BK to three state final fours and a pair of runner-up finishes. However, the UNF signee has graduated.
Despite the loss of Millar, the Crusaders (25-5 in 2021-22) return nearly everyone else. That was enough to earn Bishop Kenny top billing in preseason all-classification regional girls basketball rankings.
The Crusaders received five of the seven first-place votes to edge Spruce Creek (Port Orange) for the No. 1 spot in The Prep Zone Power Poll.
Leading scorers Yanija Lawson (12.6 ppg) and Tyja Beans (11.1 ppg) are back for the No. 2 Hawks, who finished 21-8 following a 41-37 loss at 7A No. 2 Colonial (Orlando) in the Region 1-7A Final. Beans also led the team with 8.1 rebounds per game.
Spruce Creek, which received one first-place vote, has had six straight seasons with 18 wins or more.
Orange Park (24-6), which lost to 5A No. 4 Pine Forest (Pensacola), 70-55, in the 5A-Region 1 Final, is ranked third.
Rising junior guard Eris Lester, who has eclipsed 20 points per game in her last two seasons, is among the top 100 prospects for the Class of 2024. They also added Clay (Green Cove Springs) transfer Jaida Griner (11 ppg).
Nease (Ponte Vedra), which received the other first-place vote, is ranked fourth.
The Panthers (25-5) were Class 6A state semifinalists last year, falling to eventual state champion St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale) in the semifinals.
They must replace 2,000-point career scorer and Florida Southern signee Sydney Gomes, who set the St. Johns County scoring record. However, second leading scorer Cami Robinson (14.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game) returns.
Rounding out the top five is Ponte Vedra.
Guard Morgan Gavazzi, who hit 44% of her 3-point shots, is back for the Sharks (19-8) after averaging 12.3 ppg.
Class 1A state runner-up Wildwood is sixth, followed by Mandarin (Jacksonville), St. Augustine, Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville), and Providence (Jacksonville) in the top 10.
Class 2A state semifinalist University Christian (Jacksonville) is ranked 18th, while Class 1A state semifinalist Madison County is 19th.
The highest ranked team in the Main Street Daily News coverage area is No. 12 Hawthorne.
The Hornets (16-6), who lost to Wildwood in last year’s 1A-Region 4 Final, return Jaz’lyn Jackson, who led the team with 10.4 PPG as a junior, and rising sophomore De’Mya Adams (10.3 ppg).
Class 4A Keystone Heights, which finished 19-6 last year, is ranked 20th. The Indians return the inside-outside game of guard Kiley Channell (12.2 points and 4.3 assists per game) and center Dezaray Bright (8 points and 11 rebounds).
Gainesville, which advanced to the 6A state playoffs last year, narrowly missed the rankings but is receiving the most votes outside the top 20. The Hurricanes (14-8) return Leyah Houston (22.6 point per game as a junior) and Ta’Niya Walker (11 points and 10 rebounds per game) this year.
The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, girls basketball, boys basketball, softball & baseball 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 – 2022-23 GIRLS BASKETBALL POLL #1 (PRESEASON POLL)
(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, 2021-22 record, and total voting points
Teams in bold are inside the Mainstreet Daily News coverage area.
1. Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (4A) (5) (25-5) – 133
2. Spruce Creek (Port Orange) (7A) (1) (21-8) – 130
3. Orange Park (6A) (24-6) – 117
4. Nease (Ponte Vedra) (6A) (1) (25-5) – 113
5. Ponte Vedra (6A) (19-8) – 88
6. Wildwood (1A) (19-5) –85
7. Mandarin (Jacksonville) (7A) (17-4) – 84
8. St. Augustine (5A) (23-2) – 80
9. Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) (4A) (16-11) – 77
10. Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (20-6) – 76
11. Mainland (Daytona Beach) (5A) (14-10) – 72
12. Hawthorne (1A) (16-6) – 61
13. Oakleaf (Orange Park) (6A) (12-12) – 59
14. St. John’s Country Day (Orange Park) (2A) (21-6) – 58
15. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (3A) (21-5) – 44
16. Dunnellon (4A) (24-4) – 40
17. Bolles (Jacksonville) (4A) (17-10) – 34
18. University Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (18-12) – 31
19. Madison County (1A) (19-7) – 18
20. Keystone Heights (4A) (19-6) – 14
Also receiving votes: Gainesville (6A) (14-8) – 12; Ribault (Jacksonville) (4A) (12-9) – 11; North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) (2A) (8-12) – 10; Eustis (4A) (16-10) – 5; New Smyrna Beach (6A) (16-6) – 5; Paxon (Jacksonville) (4A) (16-11) – 5; Episcopal (Jacksonville) (3A) (12-11) – 4; Lafayette (Mayo) (1A) (20-5) – 2; Calvary Christian (Ormond Beach) (2A) (21-3) – 1; Fort White (1A) (17-3) – 1.