The 2021-22 high school boys basketball season has come to an end with some success stories and some near-misses.
Despite being one of those near-misses, the Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) Tigers did more than enough to finish the season as the top-ranked team in the final Prep Zone Power Poll.
The Tigers (29-3) advanced to the state championship game for the third time in four years, this time in Class 4A. And for the third time in four years, Jackson came up short in the title game, 74-58 to Calvary Christian (Clearwater), who captured their second straight state title.
During the regular season, the Tigers lost just two games—to Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville) and No. 5 Riverside (Jacksonville). Andrew Jackson easily won the District 3-4A title, beating Bolles (Jacksonville) by 29 points in the semifinals and Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) by 36 points in the final.
As the top seed in Region 1-4A, the Tigers slipped past Marianna by three points in the opening round before hammering No. 18T Santa Fe (Alachua) and Bay (Panama City) by a combined 37 points to advance back to Lakeland.
Andrew Jackson slipped past Gibbs (St. Petersburg) in the state semifinal before running into Calvary Christian. The Tigers, who were 5A state runners-up in 2019 and 2020 and advanced to the 3A Final Four last season, received six of the seven first-place votes to once again finish atop the regional rankings.
Ponte Vedra finishes at No. 2. The Sharks (27-4) knocked off No. 7 Fleming Island (Orange Park) to win Region 1-6A and advance to the first Final Four appearance in program history. Ponte Vedra slipped past Winter Haven 57-54 in the state semifinal but came up just short in the state title game, losing 53-49 to Martin County (Stuart).
Providence (Jacksonville) finishes No. 3. The Stallions (25-5) lost by four points in the Region 1-3A final to eventual state champion Florida High (Tallahassee).
Paxon ends up No. 4. The Golden Eagles (25-4), who advanced to the 5A state semifinals in 2019 and 2020, were upset by Bay, 49-46, in the Region 1-4A semifinals.
Rounding out the top five is Riverside (Jacksonville). The Generals (24-5) came up just short of a trip to the 5A state semifinals as they were beaten by Pine Forest (Pensacola), 62-59, in the Region 1-5A final.
North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) moves up four spots to finish at No. 6. The Eagles (24-8) advanced to the 2A Final Four for the third straight year and fifth time overall.
Fleming Island finishes at No. 7, followed by Leesburg at No. 8. Rounding out the top 10 is ninth-ranked Orange Park and Trinity Catholic (Ocala) at No. 10.
Leading off the second 10 is 1A state champion Bradford (Starke), who moves into the poll at No. 11 and receives the final first-place vote. The Tornadoes won their first boys basketball state title, winning their four state playoff games by a combined 87 points.
Bradford (16-10), who sported an 8-10 record late in the regular season, got hot at the right time as they knocked off Bell and Madison County to win Region 3-1A. Once in Lakeland, the Tornadoes hammered 2020 1A state champion No. 14 Hawthorne, 53-35, in the Final Four and then easily defeated Paxton, 64-44, for the state title.
Bradford only trailed once against Hawthorne and never trailed against Paxton in the state championship game.
Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) moved into the rankings at No. 20 after beating Trinity Catholic in the opening round of the 3A playoffs and losing to Providence by one point in the second round.
Dropping out from the previous poll are Mainland (Daytona Beach) and Central (Brooksville).
The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, girls volleyball, 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 – 2021-22 BOYS BASKETBALL POLL #6 (FIINAL POLL)
(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, final record, and total voting points)
1. Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) (4A) (6) (29-3) – 137
2. Ponte Vedra (6A) (27-4) – 130
3. Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (25-5) - 118
4. Paxon (Jacksonville) (4A) (25-4) - 113
5. Riverside (Jacksonville) (5A) (24-5) – 103
6. North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) (2A) (24-8) - 102
7. Fleming Island (Orange Park) (6A) (16-14) - 87
8. Leesburg (5A) (19-8) - 84
9. Orange Park (5A) (23-5) - 72
10. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (3A) (21-6) - 68
11. Bradford (Starke) (1A) (1) (16-10) - 67
12. The Villages (4A) (21-8) - 48
13. Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (6A) (19-11) - 41
14. Hawthorne (1A) (11-5) - 40
15. Nease (Ponte Vedra) (6A) (19-8) - 39
16. Springstead (Spring Hill) (5A) (22-6) - 33
17. DeLand (7A) (21-7) - 31
18T. Mount Dora Christian Academy (2A) (26-2) - 29
18T. Santa Fe (Alachua) (4A) (16-8) - 29
20. Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) (3A) (14-13) - 25
Also receiving votes: Ribault (Jacksonville) (5A) (16-10) – 23; Central (Brooksville) (4A) (25-5) - 21; Mainland (Daytona Beach) (5A) (15-10) - 9; Trenton (1A) (18-11) - 9; Mainland (Daytona Beach) (5A) (15-10) - 6; St. Joseph Academy (St. Augustine) (2A) (21-8) – 6; Pine Ridge (Deltona) (4A) (19-8) - 3; P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) (3A) (18-10) - 1; Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (7A) (18-8) - 1.