Eastside boys climb to No. 1 in basketball power poll

Basketball
Basketball

With only two weeks left in the regular season for high school boys’ basketball, there’s a change at the top of The Prep Zone Power Poll powered by Anytime Fitness.

And the hottest team is now the top-ranked squad for the first time in 2020-21.

The Eastside (Gainesville) Rams went a perfect 5-0 over the last two weeks, including wins over No. 13 The Villages and city rivals Gainesville and Buchholz (Gainesville). That was enough to move Eastside to No. 1 in this week’s all-classification regional rankings.

Eastside (16-1), which has won 13 in a row and hasn’t lost a game since December 10, is ranked No. 2 in the state in 4A according to Max Preps. The Rams received seven of the nine first-place votes and move up from third in the previous rankings.

Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville), which held the top spot in the four previous polls, drops to second.

The Tigers (11-4) dropped a 73-43 decision to undefeated and nationally ranked Orlando Christian Prep, the defending 2A state champion, at the Wally Keller Classic in Punta Gorda last weekend. That was enough to drop Andrew Jackson one spot, although the Tigers are favored to win the Gateway Conference Boys Basketball Tournament in Jacksonville this week.

The Tigers also defeated No. 5 Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) 54-42 on January 12.

Jackson received the other two first-place votes.

Providence (Jacksonville) is third.

Despite losing 42-39 at Bishop Snyder on January 15, the Stallions (17-3) also picked up wins over No. 7 Ponte Vedra 45-36 and beat No. 8 Bolles 46-44 at the buzzer last Friday. Providence only drops one spot from the previous ranking.

Paxon (Jacksonville) is fourth in The Prep Zone Power Poll.

The Golden Eagles (14-5) picked up wins over No. 16 Robert E. Lee at the Duel in Duval last weekend and against No. 16 Forest (Ocala) at the MLK Classic on January 16th, with their only loss over the last two weeks by two points to No. 20 First Coast (Jacksonville).

Bishop Snyder, which drops one spot from the previous poll, rounds out the top five.

The Cardinals (14-5), ranked No. 5 in 3A according to Max Preps, defeated Providence and Mainland (Daytona Beach) but also picked up losses against Jackson and 2A No. 3 Central Florida Christian Academy (Ocoee) at the Duel in Duval.

Columbia (Lake City) makes a big move, up four spots to sixth. The Tigers (11-4) have won eight of nine games since the beginning of 2021, with their only loss coming to the No. 1 team in 6A, East Lake (Tarpon Springs), at the MLK Classic at Forest (Ocala) on January 16.

They also picked up wins over then-No. 20 P.K. Yonge (Gainesville), RV Madison County, Gainesville, and RV West Nassau over that span.

The Ponte Vedra continues to roll, improving to 17-2 after winning three of its last four games.

The Sharks move up two spots, with their only loss over the last couple of weeks coming at No. 3 Providence.

Bolles is up three spots to No. 8 as the Bulldogs (13-4) won six of seven games over the last two weeks with the only loss coming at the buzzer at Providence.

The ‘Dogs also picked up wins over No. 9T Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville), RV Fleming Island (Orange Park) and Orange Park during that span.

Rounding out the top 10 are two teams tied for ninth, Bishop Kenny and Nease (Ponte Vedra). The Crusaders (10-5) lost at Bolles and to then-RV Impact Christian Academy (Jacksonville), but also knocked off then-No. 7 Palatka and then-No. 8 Episcopal (Jacksonville) to move back into the top 10 after being tied for 11th in the previous poll.

Nease (13-4) was 4-0 over the past few weeks and is in the top 10 for the first time this season. Bishop Kenny and Nease edged No. 11 Episcopal by only one point.

Moving back into the rankings this week is No. 18 Impact Christian Academy (Jacksonville), which has won six in a row, including victories over Bishop Kenny as well as RV Fletcher (Neptune Beach) and IMG Academy Blue (Bradenton).

Williston moves into the poll for the first time this year as the Red Devils (12-4) are ranked 19th. They beat No. 15 Hawthorne along with RV Newberry to get them into the rankings this week.

Moving out from the previous poll are North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) and P.K. Yonge (Gainesville).

The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, volleyball, 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 and it is powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville.

THE PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2020-21 BOYS BASKETBALL POLL #5

(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, record through 1/24, and total voting points)

1. Eastside (Gainesville) (4A) (7) (16-1) – 176

2. Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) (3A) (2) (11-4) – 170

3. Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (17-3) – 160

4. Paxon (Jacksonville) (4A) (14-5) – 155

5. Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) (3A) (14-5) – 150

6. Columbia (Lake City) (6A) (11-4) – 125

7. Ponte Vedra (5A) (17-2) – 124

8. Bolles (Jacksonville) (4A) (13-4) – 109

9T. Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (4A) (10-5) – 92

9T. Nease (Ponte Vedra) (7A) (13-4) – 92

11. Episcopal (Jacksonville) (3A) (16-4) – 91

12. Forest (Ocala) (6A) (10-4) – 80

13. The Villages (4A) (10-6) – 66

14. Palatka (4A) (11-5) – 50

15. Hawthorne (1A) (10-5) – 44

16. Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville) (5A) (12-7) – 42

17. Santa Fe (Alachua) (4A) (10-4) – 41

18. Impact Christian Academy (Jacksonville) (2A) (10-6) – 34

19. Williston (1A) (12-4) – 23

20. First Coast (Jacksonville) (6A) (9-4) – 17

Also receiving votes: Lecanto (5A) (16-2) – 11; Madison County (1A) (9-3) – 9; Mount Dora Christian Academy (2A) (15-4) – 8; West Nassau (Callahan) (4A) (10-11) – 8; Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (6A) (11-7) – 5; Leesburg (5A) (10-3) – 5; Newberry (1A) (10-5) – 5; Fleming Island (Orange Park) (6A) (12-8) – 3; Wildwood (1A) (12-7) – 3; Flagler Palm Coast (7A) (9-4) – 2; Taylor County (Perry) (1A) (10-3) – 1.

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